Channing Tatum was planning on playing Gambit for years. News of his involvement with the popular X-Men character began in 2014, and eventually it seemed all but certain the 21 Jump Street star would bring the Cajun to the big screen — until Disney bought Fox and the movie was cancelled. In a new interview, Tatum and producing partner Reid Carolin opened up about the whole scenario.
“We were right on the one-yard line,” Carolin told Variety about Gambit. “We had cast the film. We’d opened up a production office. We were on our way to shoot in New Orleans.” But the road to that moment wasn’t exactly smooth. Tatum and Carolin wrote a script they loved so much, they wanted to direct it. But according to the pair, Fox didn’t want them to direct it, which is where names like Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski came in. Looking back at it now, Tatum makes it seem like Fox didn’t quite get what made the character so special.
“They would call him ‘flamboyant’ in his description,” Tatum said. “I wouldn’t — he was just the coolest person. He could pull anything off. Most superheroes, their outfits are utilitarian. Batman’s got his belt. Gambit’s like, ‘No, this shit’s just fly, bro! This shit walked down the Paris runway last year.’ He’s just wearing the stuff that’s so dope because he loves fashion.”
Coming off Fox’s success with Deadpool, Gambit was planned as a more mature, R-rated take on the character and his world. “We wanted to make a romantic comedy superhero movie,” Carolin said. “The thesis was the only thing harder than saving the world is making a relationship work.”
But once Disney bought Fox the relationship that didn’t work was Marvel and the X-Men. The film got shelved and the loss hit Tatum hard. “Once Gambit went away, I was so traumatized,” Tatum said. “I shut off my Marvel machine. I haven’t been able to see any of the movies. I loved that character. It was just too sad. It was like losing a friend because I was so ready to play him.”
Tatum says he’d still be open to playing the character and would love to make the movie he and Carolin wrote, though he now understands they shouldn’t direct it. Now they, like us, will just sit and wait until we find out what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have planned for the X-Men.