When you see the preview for Step Up you may like all the hot bodies and fly moves you see, but you may also wonder, “Who the hell are these kids?” You’ve seen Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan as supporting characters in other teen-interest movies, but Step Up is the starring vehicle for both of them.
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Talk Step Up Auditions
Dewan was a dancer and already working as an actress in Take the Lead. Her manager sent her the script for Step Up and went for it immediately. “I thought it was such a really good story, a love story and a great dance movie. I literally got off the plane and the next day auditioned for it and tested for it and then about three weeks later I got the part.”
They tested her both for line reading and feet moving. “I went in and first I auditioned the acting and screen tested with Channing because he had already gotten the part. It was like a chemistry test with him and then I did a dance audition the next day where there’s a choreographer, they taught me something and I danced and they put me on tape. After that, it was various different callbacks, going to this thing and that thing and talking to this producer and changing my hair color. So many things. Then, after about three weeks, they said, ‘Okay, you’ve got the part’ and I screamed and jumped up and down and was very relieved.”
Before acting, Dewan danced for high school competitions and conventions. “Conventions were the biggest deal because you could audition for scholarships and scholarships would take you to L.A. or different places and get you some experience. One that I remember right off the bat was I had to perform and they picked two people to go to L.A. and be on this team together. I was pretty intense and you are competing with the best of the best and I was picked so I got to go. That was one of the major ones.”
As the first on board, Tatum just had to sell himself as a dancer. “I try to block it out of my mind whenever I can,” he joked. “I'm sure there's the audition tape floating around somewhere, but I hope it never makes the light of day. I'm not ashamed of it by any means, but I've come a long way since then. The dancing audition was different than I thought it was going to be, but it was still nerve racking, because you never know.”
His intimidation came from director Anne Fletcher. “She's the elite of the elites in this whole industry, and even in the dance world. Not even just in the film. Everyone knows her. She's mama. That's what everyone knows her as in the industry. And going in and auditioning for her dancing was a huge thing for me, because I'm pretty insecure about my dancing, because I had never been trained before. But I know what I like to do, and it's kind of like you painting and someone looking at your work.”
Tatum auditioned with many candidates for his costarring role, Nora, but Dewan blew the others away. “Tyler's a little easier to find. I don't know, in my mind. Maybe it wasn't for them, I don't really know. But in my mind, you can find an actor that knows how to dance or freestyle a little bit. But as far as like an actor that has done professional, technical stuff that you have to learn from six and on up, that was like huge, huge thing.”
Tatum’s dance education was simply the movies of the ‘80s. “I've definitely taken moves but
I've only taken them in like sections. Some of the hat stuff in Breakin' 1, I totally [did] that. And a lot of the breaking windmills and there's stalls that you always take. And that's how I kind of learned how to dance. You watch movies and [TV], and you just like mimic them.”
Step Up opens to theatres this Friday, August 11th.
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