Channing Tatum had those dance moves down a long time ago, well before he took on the title role of the male stripper Mike Lane in the hit 2012 film “Magic Mike.” During interviews for that film, he candidly told stories about his pre-acting days, of earning his keep as, yes, a male stripper or dancer or, as his screen pals in the sequel “Magic Mike XXL” prefer, a male entertainer. He went by the name Chan Crawford back then, and now, looking back on it, he says, “Everything was pretty different when I was 19. The world in ‘Magic Mike’ is a better world than the one I lived in.” About the only thing that’s the same now for the hunky, press-friendly guy who has since starred in his share of hits (“Dear John,” “21 Jump Street”) and misses (“Haywire,” “Jupiter Ascending”) is that his friends still call him Chan. And things are looking up. He’s got a lead – with blond hair – in the next Joel and Ethan Coen film “Hail, Caesar!” and he’ll then star as the red-eyed Marvel Comics character “Gambit” with Rupert Wyatt (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) directing. Tatum spoke briefly about “Magic Mike XXL” last week in Hollywood.

Q: How did the sequel come about? Did you know right after the first one that you would do another?

A: Well, people have to go to the first one to even merit making a second one. We couldn’t have any idea that the first one was going to do what it did. That’s why we made it for so little money. We were just kind of making a little independent movie, but we somehow won the lottery with it. After that the only thing creative that was left on the table was the stripper convention [which was supposed to be in the first one but ended up not being filmed] and a few other stories. And we knew Matt Bomer was going to sing in this one. Then we had to fill in the rest.

Q: You did some pretty impressive dance moves in the first one, and you get to do quite a bit more in the new one. Was there a lot of rehearsal time before shooting?

A: Actually, we had a big CGI budget, so that was my face on Twitch’s [dancer-actor Stephen Boss] body. (laughs) Yes, we had a good amount of time to rehearse on this. I don’t remember how many days, but everybody showed UP. Everybody said we’re DOING it this time. There was a little bit of an oversight on the first one in that we couldn’t fit all the dance routines in the movie. So we kind of designed the way we filmed the dancing this time a little better, so we could show them all. Because, you know, after you see one person go onstage and take their clothes off, the next one is less interesting because they all end the same way. As far as the dancing goes, I just wanted to blow it out of the box. The first one was kind of tethered to reality. And the real world of the male revues isn’t all that interesting. So each of these guys really brought their own thing to it.

Q: Toward the end of the film, you and the other guys are completely surrounded by female extras. Did they all behave or did things get crazy?

A: In the first film, they ripped Matthew McConaughey’s thong off of his body. And that was less than a hundred of them. I thought, with this one, a crowd of a thousand people was going to be uncontrollable. But everybody was really well behaved. I wish I had a crazy anecdote. We didn’t rehearse onstage, so they didn’t know what was coming. They got to see everything for the first time when we shot it. We had fun and we had fun with them.

Q: Are you allowed to say anything about what you’ll be doing with “Gambit?”

A: We’re still early on that [film], but I do have some ideas at this point. I believe that Rupert [Wyatt] and I have the exact same vision of what we want to do. We want it to be different. I think Gambit is specifically a character who’s set up to not do some of the things that some of the other superheroes have to do, because that’s who they are. But his character lends itself to doing something slightly different.

“Hail, Caesar!” is being billed as a comedy-drama-musical. Would you ever consider doing a full-fledged musical?

I’m not exactly a singer. Maybe one day, if I ever get better at singing. Yeah, for sure.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.