Channing Tatum, Tom Holland, Christian Bale and More Celebrity Men Who Got Their Start on the Dance Floor
There’s been much ado in the dance world recently over comments Good Morning America cohost Lara Spencer made about Prince George’s affinity for ballet (she has since apologized and interviewed male ballet stars about the stigma that often comes with their profession). Perhaps she didn’t know that some of the hottest guys in Hollywood got their start on the stage – whether in pointe shoes, tap shoes or a G-string (hi, Channing Tatum).
Before they were your favorite superheroes, Oscar-winners and Hollywood heartthrobs, did you know that these actors actually got their start shaking what their mamas gave them? These videos of your favorite male celebs dancing must be seen to be believed. What are you waiting for? A-five, six, seven, eight!
Holland may be Spider-Man now, but before he was flying through the air with the aid of a web, he was on the West End performing in Billy Elliot and doing his own dang stunts. Holland’s introduction to dance was through hip hop classes that he took at Nifty Feet, a dance studio in England. At 10, Holland was spotted at a performance by talent scouts, who scooped him up to audition for the West End production about a boy who loves ballet in secret – then out loud. (Has he maintained his chops? We’ll let you watch his performance of “Umbrella” from Lip Sync Battle and decide for yourselves.)
The Magic Mike star got his start exotic dancing at a Miami club, Male Encounters. Tatum “doesn’t regret a thing” about his dancing beginnings, and who can blame him: his breakout role in the dance movie Step Up made him a household name and introduced him to his (now ex-) wife and mother of his child, Jenna Dewan.
Would you have ever guessed that Colin Farrell used to teach line dancing in Dublin, Ireland before he was famous? This clip (though not in English) shows Farrell in a cut off shirt, cowboy hat and boots, giving off some major yee-haw energy.
Walken was famous for his roles in Dear Hunter and Annie Hall, but did you know that he started his entertainment career as a dancer? He took his very first dance class at the age of three! As a child, he performed on stage and in TV variety shows, and even left college to star in an Off Broadway revival of Best Foot Forward with a young Liza Minnelli. He also played Riff in a touring production of the dance-heavy musical, West Side Story. (That also explains his memorable appearance in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video.)
The Rocketman actor got his start at 14 years old, when he played the titular character in the film version of Billy Elliot. He studied ballet after deciding to tag along to his sister’s ballet class … and the rest is history for the British actor.
Before he was Batman, Christian Bale was the star of Newsies – and while he may now call the role “embarrassing,” we invite you to seize the day and watch him do some interpretive fancy footwork. He picked up some moves as the only boy in his ballet class in Wales before he became a child star.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
The action star and martial artist studied ballet for five years, saying in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1993, “I was always attracted to ballet because of the dexterity, the stretching, the grace, and the fact that you are able to control without showing any pain in your face. People think ballet is, like, usual, but it’s not. It’s very hard to do. It’s very hard to be able to put your shoulders down and keep your hips straight and your legs spread like this, and hold somebody in one hand on one feet. So I mixed the grace and the movement with the power of karate. It’s been a big help in my movies.”
He says that he could have gone pro with his dancing prowess. “I was about 16, 17 when I started. Then they wanted me to go with a professional company in Paris, because they needed so much good male dancers,” he explains, “They’re not easy to find. Americans, of course, think ballet is for sissies. But they are very wrong.”
Tupac attended the Baltimore School of The Arts in 1986, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz and, yes, ballet! He even played the role of the Mouse King in the school’s production of The Nutcracker.
Thank you, Mindy Kaling, for making Chris Messina dance on The Mindy Project. But before he played Danny Castellano, he was a kid who dreamed of winning Mr. Dance of the United States. That’s not an exaggeration. As Messina tells it, “It was a modern dance. I remember I was barefoot. I wanted to be Baryshnikov, I loved dance so much. But I lost, and looking back, I should have, because I was terrible. I still love dance.”
Shulman danced for much of his young adult life, even majoring in photography and dance at Sarah Lawrence College from 2004-2006.
Before “The Carlton” became a thing on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Alfonso Ribeiro showed off his moves on Broadway at age eight in The Tap Dance Kid. He also landed a spot in a Pepsi commercial that featured Michael Jackson in 1984 and had his own dance instruction book, Alfonso’s Breakin’ & Poppin’ Book.
Before there was Twilight, Lautner loved karate and hip hop dancing. Please see the above video of pre-teen Lautner for evidence!
If anyone ever tells you that men don’t dance, turn around and show them these videos as proof that they do–they so do.