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Tatum embraces fatherhood, roles

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Fatherhood has done a number on Channing Tatum.

The actor and his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, met on the 2006 dance flick “Step Up.” Their daughter, Everly, was born on May 31 in London, where Tatum is working. And unlike the permissive, absentee dad he plays in the thriller “White House Down,” Tatum is besotted and deeply protective when talking about his daughter.

“I knew my life was going to change, and I was excited about that,” he says. “Everything else you're stressed about goes way away. Whenever anything gets weird or tough, I think about her. Nothing else is that serious.

“I get excited when I get to change a diaper or after Jenna has fed her, I get to hold her.”

Adorable as that sounds, Tatum is nowhere near retirement. And he credits his wife, whom he calls his “other half,” with his professional winning streak.

“I found someone who wants love and a family, exactly like I do. But we're very different people when it comes to it, so it's odd that we link up so well. I probably would not be as out there — especially in the beginning of my career, I would have been just as happy doing a movie a year and living out on a ranch away from people,” he says. “But being with Jenna has made me realize that I want to produce and direct and stay around. It's made me start a career and do the things I would have never done.”

Tatum, 33, never envisioned himself co-headlining one of summer's biggest releases with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, 45, who's the pacifist president to Tatum's indefatigable warrior. While touring the White House, Tatum's John Cale and his daughter are separated, and she's trapped by seemingly unstoppable domestic terrorists. He's left to rescue the rather-hapless president and try to find his precocious child.

“There's not a lot of people who can play the president, and it doesn't feel dusty,” Tatum says. “I couldn't see anyone else playing it.”

The two actors met while on a press junket two years ago and hit it off. In person, Tatum is loquacious, while Foxx comes across as more self-contained. But, says “White House Down” director Roland Emmerich, the two are truly tight.

“On set, I'd never seen two actors look out for each other more. They liked each other. You felt it,” he says. “They'd have discussions about politics. They like each other because they're both humble, easygoing guys.”

“You go home and close your door, and you're still a normal person,” Tatum says. “I still stink when I work out. I'm no different than what I started out as. On set, there's a reason why there are people to get you coffee. You need to work. ... I was lucky enough to live a normal life before this.”

Donna Freydkin is a staff writer for USA Today.

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