That Kind of Movie: Reid Carolin on Magic Mike

The screenwriter's plans for the Magic Mike broadway musical, what scenes got cut from the finished film and how it originally ended.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


Sure, Magic Mike is full of abtastic guys, but we wanted to talk to the real stud. Reid Carolin is the screenwriter who gave all the boys something to do. Of course the male strip club movie is based on star Channing Tatum’s real experience. He plays Mike, the headliner of Club Xquisite, who brings on The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) to share the stage. Mike hopes to get out and start his own business, but he has no collateral in the bank’s eyes. He finds some hope in romancing The Kid’s sister (Cody Horn), especially since his other girlfriend Joanna (Olivia Munn) is purely a sexual hookup, by her own rules. Carolin took us through the themes and structure of the script, including characters like Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Ken (Matt Bomer.)

Spoilers follow.


CraveOnline: Did you think about what difference there is between female strip clubs for a male audience and male strip clubs for a female audience?

Reid Carolin: Definitely. I think having been to both [laughs] I find the experience of going to a male strip club much more interesting in that a female strip club is really polarizing. In the sense of there’s a sex object up on stage and people who are essentially either wanting to live as close to, or maybe even if they’re lucky, cross the line into this becoming a brothel. I think either you’re looking for the fantasy of getting that close to something that you would never invite into your life full time, or you’re hoping that maybe the night gets crazy and that happens. I think at a male strip club, it’s more show. There’s theatrics. You want to participate. You want to yell and scream and have fun and laugh and watch people do things that are silly, but at the same time show some degree of sexuality that’s both embarrassing and also a turn on. I think it’s one of the reasons why we’re so keen on doing this on Broadway is because I think it lends itself to a theatrical experience and being participatory in something that’s got a little bit of story to it, not too much but a little bit, but also the degree of sexuality that you can have fun with.


Is it also real that the girls who go to a male strip club are really attractive, as reflected in the movie? And maybe the guys who frequent a female strip club, maybe not so much?

The girls at the clubs we went to, there were a lot of really attractive girls and then there were a lot of not so attractive girls. At the male strip clubs, I think it’s an equal mix at both to be honest with you. Both sort of have the bachelor and bachelorette party culture in them, but I think on a typical night at a female strip club, it’s a pretty seedy crowd. At a typical night at a male strip club, you could have any number of kinds of people in there. A female strip club, you go at a certain time of day, you’re just depressed.


So you already have Broadway plans?

We’re putting it together right now. Very excited about what hopefully this can be. I’m getting into writing the book for it. It’s going to be more about the club and less about the world outside of the club, but I think it’s the perfect way for girls to go to a show and feel like they’re at a strip club and yell at the stage and scream and throw things and dollar bills and all that sort of stuff, and also at the same time, get more of a story than they would at some Chippendale’s show that hopefully can really resonate. I think it will be cool to walk into a theater in New York and you’ve stepped into a Tampa Bay strip club. I think that would be hilarious.


Is it original music for that?

Original music, yeah.


That you’re writing or collaborating with a musician?

We haven’t gotten to that point yet but I don't know how we’ll do it exactly. Maybe we’ll take pop songs and redo them, like in the Moulin Rouge way.


Because that’s a thing now.

Yeah, it is but I’m up for whatever. Part of me thinks it would be funny to take typical male strip songs and kind of rework them. So we’ll see.


Is Mike unaware of people’s nature, that Joanna obviously is not going to be someone he can count on, and Adam is obviously a f*ck up from the beginning who’s going to get him into trouble?

I think the thing is Mike intuitively is aware but he doesn’t really want to be aware. Life, if you just coast and don’t really think about things, if you don’t really want to deal with who you are, I’ve done this and a lot of people I know do this. If you don’t want to deal with who you are, then you don’t have to in a way. You can keep making money and stripping and partying and “I don’t want to think about the rest. I don’t want to think about are Joanna’s intentions with me weird or could I really be screwing up this kid’s life? I kind of just want to let it be.” The fact that he meets Brooke and that he gets the kid into so much trouble I think really exposes that intuitive truth that he knows about himself. He’s not happy.


What trouble does he get The Kid into? I was more worried that The Kid was screwing Mike over.

I think he feels responsible in that he said, “Hey, here’s the keys to this world and I’m going to open it up for you. And then I promised your sister that I would keep an eye on you, and then I kind of didn’t. I kind of just let you run wild, and that’s not my fault” but I think another part of him was like, you know what, I think this girl is really something interesting and she’s something different and I really believe she’s a good person and I want to honor that thing that I said to her. So I think he’s conflicted about that.


How much darker could this story have gotten?

A lot, and there were moments in the script where we took it much darker and pulled back. We had that scene with a foursome. That at first was much, much darker and many more things happened at that party, that we pulled back on.


That were shot and taken out later or cut from the script?

Some that were shot, most not. We had a scene where they climb up this massive radio tower over the water, over this bridge in Tampa and The Kid tries to jump off and Mike pulls him back. They’re both high. So we wrote these things that really pushed that, and then we ended up pulling them back for various reasons. We didn’t want to make a movie that was dark to the point that audiences would have complete trouble accessing the fun of the stripping but we didn’t want to make a movie that was just like, “Hey, come throw dollar bills at the screen.” I think it was important for us to have this not feel like a comedy or a drama or any type of genre really. I think it’s the way that movies like Saturday Night Fever or Shampoo feel like that. Those were the movies, and a lot of Robert Altman’s movies, we just looked at this and said, “We want to make that kind of movie, the type of movie that you can’t go oh, that’s a this or that.”


Did Tarzan and Ken have bigger subplots?

Yes. Tarzan not too much more. There were many more scenes of the guys, all the various things they were doing. Like Tito was starting this frozen yogurt stand chain in malls that wasn’t going to work out, so there was a backstory with him doing that. There was a backstory with Ken talking about how he makes these videos about how to shave your chest, and he’s very into spirituality and all that type of stuff. There’s some stuff with Big Dick Richie about he actually tends the greens at a minor league baseball field and he pulled out his back and that’s why he’s not a professional baseball player. There’s all these subplots with these guys and we wrote all that stuff and tried to interweave it into the narrative. Ken winds up in there a little bit because he is someone that tempts The Kid a little bit and there’s a little bit more of that in the original script as well, but all the stuff to make a 90-100 minute movie all gets cut.


Is any of that shot so it can be on the DVD?

Yeah, I think so. Yeah.


What was Tarzan’s problem that took him out of commission?

So he took too much GHB. He’s a GHB addict. You call it G’ing Out, so he G’s out and passes out and this is something Channing experienced in the world when he was living in it. Sometimes before people would even go out on stage, they would have taken too much G and you’d have a moment where it’d be like, “All right, who’s going out on stage and what act are you doing?” We turn it into obviously a plot point that ends up creating the inciting incident in the movie. [The Kid goes on in Tarzan’s place.]


Did you want to have the opportunity to call out the bankers too?

I really did. We did it more in the script and I think we pulled it back. Steven, rightfully so, I don't think he wanted to make a movie that was totally a statement about the American economy. Really for me, Tampa, FL is this place where people did anything to keep their house. Chan at one point in his life sold mortgages to old people, cold calling them, at 17 years old. People just prey on people and they hire young kids to go and do stuff they don’t, stuff they don’t even know what they’re doing. I just thought what better world to express that conflict, because a stripper is somebody that will do anything for a buck. They’re just having the best time of their life, doing whatever it takes to just make money and have fun. But look at all the people that you hurt and now you have to atone for it. Our original ending of the movie actually didn’t have them kissing and getting together. It was much more about them just looking at each other and Mike admitting he wants to be someone different and her saying, “I accept that.” That’s not an ending that people like to see in cinema but it’s something that metaphorically I love.


You’re producing the next Channing Tatum movie, White House Down?

Yes, yeah. I think it’s going to be like Die Hard in The White House. I say that and I know it’s a silly way of saying what a movie’s going to be, but it’s going to be a movie that you can have a lot of fun in. Part of me loves the idea of using the White House as a symbol and watching it getting taken over, people storming in because I think all of us have an angst towards that. So if we can make a fun movie, a popcorn movie that goes all over the world, that taps into that angst, I’m really excited to do that.


They haven’t done a Die Hard in a Something Else movie in at least 10 years!

No, I agree. Certainly you have Speed and things like that.


That was my favorite subgenre, Die Hard in Somewhere Else.

I love Die Hard, man. It’s the best.