It won’t be long now until the X-Men franchise sets a new record for onscreen mutants with Days of Future Past, a movie about future X-Men and past X-Men and perhaps even some present-day X-Men. Beyond lies Apocalypse and another Wolverine and a mysterious spin-off movie that might be X-Force, with the implicit promise that they’ll keep making X-Men movies until X-Men 2099 is considered a period piece. (Remember X-Men 2099? Skullfire!) But a new dark horse has entered the X-Men Spin-Off Showcase sweepstakes: Channing Tatum told MTV’s Josh Horowitz that he has spoken to X-producer Lauren Shuler Donner about essaying the role of Gambit, the card-tossin’, lady-killin’, New Orleans-bein’-from superhero beloved by children of the ’90s and generally loathed by the older siblings of the children of the ’90s. (Speaking as the former: He’s our Dazzler.)
Tatum has been linked to the character in the past. Shuler Donner has said she’d love to have Tatum play Gambit, and Tatum has expressed interest in the role before. When EW’s Tim Stack spoke to the producer about the possibility for our recent Future Past cover story, she explained: “I did that interview last year, and Channing gave one like a couple of years before last year, and then all of a sudden, boom, it surfaced. There’s a want to see … I have it in my head.” And once-and-future X-director Bryan Singer told Stack that he is exploring the idea of reintroducing Gambit into 2016’s Apocalypse.
Still, what’s new here is the fact that Tatum and Shuler Donner have actually met. It appears to be early days yet: Tatum states, “If the stars align, I would play it.” (He’s also already working on his accent.) But he seems invested in the character. “Gambit’s the only X-Man I ever loved,” he says, noting his own Southern heritage. “He’s the most un-X-Man X-Man that’s ever been an X-Man … he loves women and drinkin’ and smokin’.” (Lest your inner-X-fan should riot, Tatum also notes that that kinda describes Wolverine — although in fairness, Movie-Wolverine is much less of a hedonist rascal than his comic book incarnation.)
Of course, there was a time not too long ago when a handsome up-and-coming actor played Gambit onscreen. The actor was Taylor Kitsch, the movie was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the result was a bit of a wash. Tatum is already a much bigger star right now than Kitsch was at the time, so it seems a bit strange that he’d join the franchise as a member of the (presumably expansive) Apocalypse ensemble. Maybe it would make more sense to launch him as a sidekick/antagonist-turned-friend in 2017’s Wolverine movie? Although again: We’ve been down this route before.
You can watch the video below — the Gambit stuff starts around 4:25.
— Additional reporting by Tim Stack