By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 12, 2011 at 12:03PM
Um, wow. The idea that Steven Soderbergh was sneaking one more film in before his long-promised retirement, other than the previously announced "Liberace" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E," was a surprise. The idea that the bonus picture would be a drama about male strippers, starring part-man, part-tree trunk Channing Tatum, was an even bigger surprise. But further casting's been announced for the film, and it's a real eyebrow-raiser: the director has landed the young star of "I Am Number Four," Alex Pettyfer, to play opposite Tatum. Not only that, but it emerges that Pettyfer will essentially be playing a younger version of the real-life Channing Tatum.
Deadline report that the 21-year-old British actor has been cast in Sodebergh's "Magic Mike," playing a young dancer, a character based on Tatum's experiences as a 19-year-old, who is tutored by an older stripper, played by Tatum himself. Reid Carolin, the producer of Tatum's passion project "Ten Year," is writing the script and Soderbergh has drawn comparison to "Saturday Night Fever," calling his film "sexy, funny and shocking."
It's a pretty smart move for Pettyfer, all things considered. The actor briefly seemed to have used up his fifteen minutes of fame -- having been labeled one of Hollywood's hottest young prospects, things took a turn when both his vehicles this year, "I Am Number Four" and "Beastly," underperformed. Perhaps more importantly, evidence started to mount up of a bad attitude from Pettyfer: rumors circulated about bad attitude on set from the actor, he managed to negotiate his way out of lead roles in not one, but two potential young adult franchises, "The Seventh Son" and "Mortal Instruments," and he gave a deeply unpleasant interview in which he revealed he has the words "thank you" tattooed above his crotch, among other things.
So the idea of picking up credibility by working with a hall-of-famer like Soderbergh is a clever one, and together with his role in Andrew Niccol's latest sci-fi, which Deadline reveal has changed title from "Now" to "In Time," he could manage to pull things back from the brink. We'd be lying if we said that we didn't have some doubts, but both leads certainly look the part, and Soderbergh's consistently examined sexuality in interesting ways, so we're inclined to trust him for the moment: Tatum seemingly continues to impress top-notch auteurs from Kimberley Pierce to Michael Mann, and the director already worked with him on the imminent actioner "Haywire," so he's clearly got reason to believe in him. The low-budget film is currently being sold at Cannes, and a September/October shoot is planned.