Channing Tatum Saves His Daughter, the President and the World in ‘White House Down’

One of today's hottest leading men, Channing Tatum (“G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra,” “The Vow”) plays John Cale, an ex-soldier and divorced father who’s trying to put his life back on solid footing, in director Roland Emmerich's new action-thriller “White House Down.”

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Ex-military, now a Capitol policeman, Cale is a father struggling to bond with his estranged daughter. And as “White House Down” begins, it looks like Cale still hasn’t quite figured it out. “But his heart is good – he’s always wanted to be his daughter’s hero,” says Tatum. “And now that he’s realizing that he can’t be that, due to mistakes he’s made, he thinks, ‘Well, she idolizes the president – if I can’t be her hero, maybe I can help protect the guy who is.’”

In the film, Cale’s just been turned down by the Secret Service – despite his heroic career, he has been deemed unqualified to protect the president. But everything will change for him when that same day, on a chance visit to the White House, the unimaginable happens: a paramilitary group attacks the building, and only Cale is in a position to protect the president.

“It’s the perfect motivation for the character,” says producer Harald Kloser. “He wants nothing more than to protect the president. And that’s partly because his daughter wants that so badly, too – the president is her hero. But the person from the Secret Service who is doing the interview – the person who holds his future – doesn’t feel he’s up for the job. He doesn’t get it. And then all hell breaks loose – he has to save his daughter, the president, and the world. He has to earn the job about 20 times throughout the course of the movie.”

“The thing Cale really cares about is repairing his relationship with his daughter,” says Tatum. “He’s a guy who ran away from a lot of his problems, and even though he’s stopped running now, he’s wondering if it’s too late. If it takes saving the leader of the free world to get the love and respect of his daughter, then that’s just what he’s going to have to do.”

“Cale is a very ordinary guy,” says Emmerich. “He’s one of those characters who just wants to do the right thing, but whatever he does, it’s not quite working. And then, with the events that happen in this story, he gets his chance. He has a very strong motivation, but a lot to overcome.”

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Part of the attraction to “White House Down” for Tatum was the chance to work with Emmerich. “I’ve had so much fun on this movie,” adds Tatum. “One morning we were shooting at five a.m. – it was a long day and he was the only one chipper as he could possibly be. He leads from the front, and I like that.”

For Emmerich, the feeling was mutual – the chance to work with Channing Tatum was the last piece of the puzzle that sealed the deal. “When I met him, I immediately realized that I would only make the movie with him – if he didn’t do it, I wouldn’t, either,” says the director. “I realized he was exactly that character – a very good-looking guy, but with a strong ‘everyman’ feeling about him. He’s funny and smart, he knows what he wants.”

Opening across the Philippines on July 3, “White House Down” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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