How Channing Tatum Became the Sexiest Man Alive

Few were surprised when “People” magazine named heartthrob Channing Tatum as Sexiest Man Alive. The 32-year-old actor has a knack for turning on the charm. His chiseled physique and the natural way he plays romantic roles combined with his integrity on and off the big screen made him a favorite for the magazine’s popular yearly award.

Tatum’s latest characters definitely turn up the heat. His role as an exotic male dancer in “Magic Mike” was even more alluring when audiences discovered that the story was partially based on the actor’s life. It wasn’t until after Tatum dropped out of school and joined an all-male review that he stumbled into his first roles in music videos.

However, Tatum’s role in the big screen adaption of the 1980s TV show “21 Jump Street” may have made an even bigger impression on audiences. Tatum played Greg Jenko, a struggling police officer forced to return to high school undercover in order to stop the spread of a dangerous new drug. The cocky and confident former jock quips and dips his way through the action-packed comedy. Tatum proved he was talented, sexy, and capable of making audiences laugh-a surefire ticket to landing on the cover of “People” magazine’s November issue.

That isn’t to say the actor wasn’t on the magazine’s radar before 2012. Though he had earlier on-screen roles, his acting career kicked off in 2006 with the release of “Step Up.” The dancing drama was an instant hit among tween and teen audiences and inspired an entire series featuring Tatum as Tyler Gage, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who stumbles on success after breaking into the Maryland School of the Arts. Shortly after filming, the actor began dating his onscreen love interest, Jenna Dewan, and the two were married in 2009. Their off-screen love story helped to fuel the series’ success and increased Tatum’s appeal to women.

A series of action and romance roles, which emphasized both Tatum’s physical abilities and his good guy image, took his career a step farther. In 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” Tatum portrayed a military man for the first time. He played the role well, and gained a chance to play a similar role in the 2010 romantic drama “Dear John.”

In this movie, Tatum played the role of John Tyree, a soldier who falls in love while on leave and struggles to maintain a relationship once he’s back in action. Perfectly timed to tap into the real plight of many Americans in the same situation, the story linked Tatum to the ultimate male ideal of being a strong, selfless, gentle, and courageous young man. After “Dear John,” Tatum was in high demand.

The following year, Tatum appeared in a whopping five full-length feature films. In “The Dilemma,” he played a strange and overwhelmingly sentimental sleaze ball who is cheating with a married woman, but the bizarre twists and turns of the plot made him one of the best characters in the movie. Critics also called him one of the funniest actors in the bunch, even though he starred alongside genre favorite Kevin James.

In the crime thriller “The Son of No One,” Tatum played a tragically troubled young police officer who is forced to wrangle with a dirty detective and tackle horrors from his childhood past. While the movie was not critically acclaimed, it reinforced Tatum’s leading man image and placed him in the spotlight with A-listers such as Al Pacino.

Tatum increased his reputation by starring in the Roman-era epic “The Eagle” with Donald Sutherland, and again with Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Ewan McGregor in the modern military drama “Haywire.” The same year, he also played a starring role in the comedy “10 Years.” While none of these movies did exceptionally well, they demonstrated how comfortable the young actor was sharing the screen with first-rate talent and showed his ability to fill a wide range of roles.

With audiences sold on Tatum’s acting abilities, all he needed was to get people’s hearts racing. His project lineup for 2012 fit the bill perfectly. His first movie to hit theaters that year was an adaptation of the bestselling Nicholas Sparks novel “The Vow.” Tatum’s portrayal of a husband dealing with his wife’s amnesia was gut-wrenching and emotional, and it fused his image with that of the dedicated and determined spouse many women dream of.

Considering Tatum’s acting in “The Vow” alongside his roles as the swarthy Greg Jenko of “21 Jump Street” and the blazingly sexual lead in “Magic Mike,” “People” magazine really had to choose him for Sexiest Man Alive. He earned the title through physical dedication to keeping in shape, talent enough to place him on screen with the industry’s top names, and a continually-reinforced image as a model male partner.