Jada Pinkett Smith admitted she had a tough time keeping a straight face while filming sexy male stripper scenes in “Magic Mike XXL,” the sequel to the hit 2012 film “Magic Mike.”
“There certainly were a number of moments when I cracked up,” said Smith during a Chicago visit last week. “But I would say the Michael Strahan [stripping/dancing] scene for sure was the toughest one for me to hold it in, because that was up close and personal. But, boy, did we have a good time!”
In the film (opening Wednesday), Smith plays Rome, the take-charge, no-nonsense owner of a VIP club for women in Savannah, Georgia, where great-looking male strippers entertain with some creative, highly athletic and sexually infused dance moves.
Smith, the wife of megastar Will Smith and mom to their talented kids Jaden and Willow, laughed as she remembered the dancing of Channing Tatum, whose own background as a male entertainer — before he found fame in Hollywood — led him to create both “Magic Mike” and this “XXL” sequel.
“To be honest, I don’t know how he did some of that stuff in the film. I kept trying to get the real answer about where he comes up with those dance moves. I almost tortured him to find out,” Smith said with a smile. “But he kept claiming they were just natural moves. I guess I have to believe him now, since I was there and saw him doing it all for real.”
Her dedication to empowering women that was key to Smith signing on for “Magic Mike XXL.”
“One of the things Channing said to me, when he called me for this role, was, ‘I really want to bring a sense of responsibility to this movie.’ When I got the script, it was written for a guy, so it was my conversation with Channing that roped me in, because he thought up the change to make Rome a woman.
“That led me to think about this whole area of eroticism and sensuality. Women don’t necessarily get to feel empowered and feel like they are in charge in those situations. Women are usually merely objectified.
“It doesn’t need to be that way. I think that often we, as women. are so afraid to participate in these stories because we’re afraid of how we’ll be seen or thought about. I just wanted to create a character that would project the true essence I believe every woman has inside her. I wanted every woman, when they see Rome, to see some aspect of herself.”
The set of “Magic Mike XXL” was unlike many of the movie sets she’s worked on. “There often is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ on movie sets, but we didn’t have the time for hurry up and wait. I believe we shot the whole thing in 28 days. So it really had the pace of television. You went there and were shooting all day. There was very little sitting around. It was very fast, which I liked.”
Another thing Smith liked about filming “Magic Mike XXL” was the opportunity to work with Elizabeth Banks. “I adore her. I hope they do a director’s cut of the film for the DVD release, because there was more to that big scene we share than actually ended up being put in the movie.”
Getting behind the camera and directing a movie is something Smith looks forward to doing eventually, “but first I would love to get in front of the camera with Elizabeth behind the camera,” noting Banks’ recent success helming the box office hit “Pitch Perfect 2.”
However, Smith said that her own directorial debut will come “sooner, rather than later. … I’ve wanted to do it for some time. Something will come down the road and I’ll know it when the right project reveals itself. Then I will get behind the camera and direct!”