How Channing Tatum found himself unexpectedly singing (again) in 'Smallfoot'

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·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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Channing Tatum and James Corden obviously knew they were making an animated comedy when they signed up for Smallfoot, the upcoming crowd pleaser that reverses the myth of Bigfoot so that it’s a community of yetis shocked to discover that humans exist. They didn’t know they were making an animated musical comedy, though.

“It was a shock to me,” Tatum told us during a Facebook Live interview, where he was joined by co-stars Corden, Yara Shahidi, Danny DeVito, and Common, along with director Karey Kirkpatrick (watch in full above).

“It was a shock to quite a few of us,” added Corden. “I can distinctly remember [Kirkpatrick] saying to me, ‘There might be some music, but we don’t think you’re going to sing.’” The filmmaker told Tatum something similar: “He said, ‘Well, maybe you sing the first sentence, and then the whole village [joins in].’”

Kirkpatrick confirmed that the film wasn’t initially designed as a musical: “Here’s what happened. We had cast most of it, and as we were looking at it with Courtenay Valenti, who’s the president of Warner Bros., and Allison Abbate, who’s the head of WAG [Warner Animation Group], we started talking about what really elevates animated movies. And music can elevate things emotionally, satirically, dramatically in a way that sometimes a scene can’t. And particularly in animation.” Since Kirkpatrick had already dabbled in song and dance, having co-written the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Something Rotten!, he and the higher-ups decided to give Smallfoot full-blown musical numbers.

At least Corden, the talk show host and “Carpool Karaoke” master, is a seasoned vocal performer — though he was still thrown into a, ahem, pressure-filled situation when he was asked a few recording sessions into the process to cover the David Bowie/Queen classic “Under Pressure” (called “Percy’s Pressure”). Suddenly Tatum, who has scant musical background (stepping up aside), was going to be sharing the official soundtrack duties with the likes of co-stars Zendaya (the soon-to-be inescapable “Wonderful Life”) and Common (“Let It Lie”).

It’s the second time in two years that Tatum says he was prodded into singing in a film. We last saw him crooning “No Dames” in the Coen brothers-directed Hail, Caesar! (2016), where he played the sailor star of a stage musical. “They got me the same exact way,” he said. “I gotta start doing my homework.”

Make no mistake, though: Tatum is not angling to be the next Hugh Jackman. “Absolutely not. I can promise that is not gonna happen,” he insisted. “That’s what I said when I went into the recording session. I said, ‘No matter how this turns out — if somehow this turns out to be good enough to be in the movie, you must promise me that you will never ask me to sing live.’”

Smallfoot opens Sept 28. Watch an exclusive clip from the film:

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