Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images Channing Tatum
Like any proud parent, Channing Tatum wants the absolute best for his daughter Everly and thinks she can and will do anything she puts her mind to — within reason. One thing he’s not quite as keen on her exploring her just yet is following in his her and Everly’s mom, ex Jenna Dewan’s her, acting footsteps.
“Jenna and I, we’ve always met eye to eye on this one. It’s pretty tough to be a child actor or artist,” he says, speaking to PEOPLE in the latest issue about his new kids book The One and Only Sparkella Makes a Plan and the upcoming live-action film adaptation based on the books.
“I also believe that if you really want to be a beautiful artist, you have to go live a real life,” he continues. “And I think kids in Hollywood, in general, there’s a lot of things that are standing in the way to living a very normal life in the world.”
The Lost City star says he’s loved sharing the Sparkella experience thus far with Everly, 9, who not only inspired the two books’ major plot points but also advised on a few color schemes and tutu designs. But when it comes to any direct involvement in the upcoming movie, particularly in front of the camera, Tatum wants his daughter her to experience life outside of acting and Hollywood before dipping her toes into the business.
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“I can’t say ‘yes’ in this moment,” he says. “Definitely not being the lead of the movie. That’s never, ever going to happen. Maybe when she’s 18, if she wants, if it takes us that long to make the movie, then great,” he adds with a laugh. “When she’s 18, she’s lived a full life and she can make her own decisions, then I will put her in anything and everything that I can possibly put her in because she’ll be the coolest thing in the world and she is the coolest thing in the world.”
Though Tatum is staying mum on the specifics of the Sparkella movie, he hints at a possibly nostalgic style and approach.
“I love those 80s, 90s and even late 70s kids movies that have these really strange tonalities of bringing parents or adults into a kid’s magical world, or vice versa,” he says. “I’m reluctant to say a ton about what we’re trying to do with it because I think it’ll probably sound more confusing than it is. You just need to see it, because they’re not making movies like this anymore And I really want to nail it, [and make] a very fun and big experience of a movie.”
Regarding the development and specific inspiration of the new book, The One and Only Sparkella Makes a PlanTatum says he drew from a recent experience he and Everly had when making a birdhouse.
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“I had a weekend with Evie outside of LA at this little farm cabin sort of thing where we go and spend our weekends when we can,” he recalls. “She wanted to make a birdhouse, which is the most dad-daughter thing you can do. But she did n’t just go, ‘Dad, I want to make a birdhouse.’ She’s like, ‘I know how to make the birdhouse.’ And she said I, ‘Are you sure? I could help.’ And she said, ‘Yeah no, just help me make it, but I know how I want it to be.’ And I was like, ‘Hmm, all right.'”
“We got there in the end, but it was a really long journey of watching and not being able to tell her, because she’s a really strong-willed child, what was and what wasn’t going to work. I had to just let her find it,” he says.
Tatum also wove two other real-life moments into the book, the first being a handy method for calming yourself down when you’re feeling overwhelmed, which he, Everly and Dewan call “taking a breather.”
“That was happening way before this [book]. I mean, God, that was happening probably in my own life, much less Evie’s,” he says with a smile. “I’m a pretty emotional person as it is and I think when things happen that don’t make us happy, we can [shut down]. And Jenna really helps with this and we’re all on the same page as far as just bringing things down and going, ‘All right, let’s all just take a breath.’ If you can’t stop this upward climb of anxiety and emotion, there’s only one way for it to go and it’s just going to explode and be not great.”
The second element is Tatum’s “secret” and successful re-direction tactic.
“There is one secret thing that I’ve weaved into the story, which I don’t know if it will work with every parent, but it can be a very Jedi [mind] trick in the best possible way,” he explains. “Evie loves to teach me things. She loves to know that she’s got one over on me or she’s in the power position, and so we wove it in very subtly, where Sparkella helps her dad sparkle-fy his motorcycle her. It is a thing that I use a lot with Evie, I’m like, ‘I don’t know how to do this. I need help.’ And she really steps up when she thinks she can be helpful.”
Tatum’s The One and Only Sparkella Makes a Plan is now available.
For more from Channing Tatum, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.