By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—“Magic Mike XXL” is all about muscular guys showing off their well-oiled six-packs and mad dance moves, right? Well, sort of. There is also a substantial infusion of female power in this much-anticipated sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit.
Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard and Andie MacDowell add a feminine touch to the mix in this continuing tale about a closely bonded team of male strippers, loosely based on star Channing Tatum’s real life prior to his career shift to heartthrob Hollywood actor.
Smith, 43, plays the proprietor of an exclusive club in Savannah, Ga., that caters to women seeking entertainment from exotic male dancers. She also is, it turns out, an old pal of Tatum’s titular character. When he and his dance pals turn up one night looking for transportation to reach a male stripper contest in Myrtle Beach, S.C., after their previous ride is destroyed in an accident, she agrees to provide the wheels in exchange for a performance her clients won’t forget. Sure enough, the Kings of Tampa are ready and willing to step up and strip down. Heard, 29, plays Zoe, a pretty photographer who catches Mike’s eye, while MacDowell,57, plays Nancy, an uninhibited Southern Belle who hooks up for a memorable night with Mike’s pal BDR (Joe Manganiello, reprising his role).
The actresses recently spoke about joining the cast of this testosterone-fueled exotic dance extravaganza, directed by Gregory Jacobs (“Behind the Candelabra”) and written by Reid Carolin, who also wrote “Magic Mike.”
Q: It looked like it was fun making this film. Do you have a special memory from the set?
MacDowell: We were shooting nights and they had been shooting quite a while when I came in. I was terrified but pretending that I wasn’t. I came in acting in the role of this crazy woman and I think Amber thought that that was who I really was. (She laughs.)
Heard: I learned yesterday that she wasn’t a crazy person. I thought Andie was out of her mind, but she’s great. This movie is funny because the energy between everyone is palpable in the room and on set and you can see it on the screen in everyone’s personalities.
There’s a strange truth represented in the characters and you pick up on everyone’s personalities coming through in amazing ways even though it’s actually scripted.
Smith: During rehearsal time, I got to give a special lap dance to Matt (Bomer, reprising his role as stripper Ken) and I think I got set up because I just wanted to watch his rehearsal. I had heard about how well he sings. I said (to the director), “Gregory, can I just stay, I just want to see Matt,” and he was like, “Yeah, yeah. Just sit in this chair.” And he started his routine and came up to me and we had a little special moment. It was awesome.
Q: This summer there are few big Hollywood movies opening targeted primarily to women. For all the bromance going on in “Magic Mike XXL,” it seems like the “girls’ movie.” Is that how you see it?
MacDowell: First of all there are a lot of sexy, hot women in this movie. I think it’s a great date movie because the guys are going to go with their ladies and be inspired, and hopefully they have it all set up and have their costumes prepared (at home afterwards). I was slightly embarrassed when I went to see the movie with my man and a bunch of strangers because I found it a little arousing. I think the best thing to do is take a woman to see this movie and have some plans for after the movie because it’s already warmed up. (She laughs.)
Q: Jada, did you use any of your lines that you say in this on (your husband) Big Willie?
Smith: Oh no, that won’t work on him. There’s a whole different technique with Big Daddy!
Q: Amber, can you talk about that epic dance scene climax when you become part of Channing’s sexy dance number and what the experience was like of shooting that scene?
Heard: I wish I could take credit and say that it was a skill but it wasn’t. When I first talked to Channing on the phone about this, he was so apologetic and cautionary and polite. “Would you be okay with this? It’s like a lap dance. Is it a big deal?” And I said, “So I’m not taking my top off, right?” And he said, “No, just the male strippers” And I said, “So I’m just sitting there?” And he said, “Well, yeah.” So I thought, “How bad can it be?” (She laughs.) So a lot of my (embarrassed) reaction was genuine. I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed the entire time, when I wasn’t scared. It was all in good fun.
Q: Channing said they actually filmed your reaction the first time they showed you what the dance was going to be with the choreographer. He called your reaction “epic.”
Heard: And it was like half-speed, the polite, half-speed version of that. I didn’t see it for real until I was in hair and makeup with a thousand screaming extras around me.