When America’s first home is attacked by mercenaries, a wannabe Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) becomes an ad hoc bodyguard for the president (Jamie Foxx) while trying to keep his own daughter (Joey King) out of harm’s way. The premise sounds as over-the-top as past Roland Emmerich disaster blockbusters, such as Independence Day and 2012 — and that’s just how Tatum likes it. ”People can scoff at it and say Roland only makes big popcorn movies,” says Tatum, who did many of his own action-hero stunts for the film, including falling nine feet onto a glass roof. ”But I think the world is begging for stuff like this. I want to eat popcorn on the Fourth of July.”
Foxx drew on firsthand knowledge to play the leader of the free world: The actor is acquainted with President Barack Obama, whom he supported in the last two elections. But his performance is no impersonation. ”We’re not mirroring President Obama,” says Foxx, who, according to Emmerich, can do a spot-on impression when he wants to. ”But you will feel [him] a little bit, especially when my character makes a speech at the beginning of the movie.”
Despite scoring hits with 21 Jump Street and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Tatum says he isn’t keen on playing shoot-‘em-up heroes on screen. ”I’m always telling my reps, If there’s a gun in my hand in the first 30 pages, unless it’s the best script you’ve ever read, if I play a cop or a Secret Service agent, don’t send it my way,” he says. ”But this was one of those things I looked at and I was like, ‘Roland really never strikes out on this level.”’
And for the record, Emmerich is aware you may already have seen a White-House-invasion movie this year. But the success of last month’s R-rated thriller Olympus Has Fallen hasn’t dimmed his hopes for White House Down. ”I’m not nervous,” he says. ”Our movie [will hopefully be] PG-13 and can be a four-quadrant movie,” meaning it can attract all ages and both sexes — especially one in particular. ”I think we will have a little more women’s appeal because of Channing.” Magic Mike would undoubtedly agree.