After displaying his ample talents in last summer's hit movie "Magic Mike," it's easy to hypothesize why director Roland Emmerich enlisted him to save the president in his new film "White House Down." But Emmerich told MTV News that he really only decided to hire Tatum as his leading man after meeting him, because the only thing more appealing than a good-looking, physically capable actor is a good-looking, physically-capable actor who's genuinely nice.
"Channing did two very successful movies with Sony so he was on top of their list. And I said 'I like the guy, I really, really like him but I have to meet him'," Emmerich told MTV News' Josh Horowitz. "So I met him, and it was one of these moments where you meet somebody and you immediately hit it off with somebody. He's the nicest guy — totally down to earth, super smart and he looks like a million dollars."
Emmerich said Tatum demonstrated how effortlessly appealing he was by charming the waitress who attended to them during that first meeting. "When we were sitting in this restaurant he was super friendly to the waitress, which I always love when guys do that. She was gushing over him and then she [said] we didn't have to pay.... And he wanted to pay. I said, 'Let it go — you made her day'."
Meanwhile, "White House Down" has faced multiple comparisons to other action movies, particularly "Die Hard," as critics and audiences get an opportunity to see it. But Emmerich insists that the 1988 containment thriller did not in fact exert much influence over his new film. "I think the influences came more from other action movies," he insisted. "I'm a big fan of 'Lethal Weapon' — just the chemistry between two people."
Emmerich also said that he responded to the material in James Vanderbilt's script for "White House Down" because it already had a great foundation for drama and character development. "I was actually attracted to this movie because it has such a strong emotional core," he said. "The lead character does everything to reconnect with his little girl, but his little girl's biggest hero is the president.
"And as it happens to be, he has to protect the president, or wants to protect the president to please her," he continued. "[He] gets denied and then ends up protecting the president, to only learn that his daughter is one of the hostages. So it's a very complex and interesting situation at heart."
"White House Down" opens in theaters nationwide June 28.
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