Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan's Unexpected Split: Inside Their Love Story Gone Wrong

Truly anything is now possible in the realm of Hollywood breakups as the longtime couple, who fell in love on the set of the 2006 movie Step Up, announce their separation

By Natalie Finn Apr 03, 2018 2:15 AMTags
Channing Tatum, Jenna DewanJames Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

Well, now anything is possible.

Channing Tatum and wife Jenna Dewan Tatum, one of the most squee-inducing couples in Hollywood, have separated after almost nine years of marriage and one child together, 4 1/2-year-old daughter Everly.

They broke the news themselves, both sharing a statement on social media that read in part, "We fell deeply in love so many years ago and have had a magical journey together. Absolutely nothing has changed about how much we love one another, but love is a beautiful adventure that is taking us on different paths for now. There are no secrets nor salacious events at the root of our decision — just two best-friends realizing it's time to take some space and help each other live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible."

To be honest, this one's a bit of a headscratcher. You let Hollywood's hottest couples alone for two minutes and they up and separate on you after piling on the evidence that they were, at least, as compatible as ever. Still a good fit, if you will.

"When people say you guys have such a perfect life, I want to scream and tell them no one's perfect," Jenna just said in the March 2018 issue of Health. "I think there are such things as great fits. It is a great fit as long as you are growing together, and I think up until this point we've really grown together."

Channing Tatum & Jenna Dewan: Romance Rewind

"Up until this point"? 

Insisting that they weren't on cloud nine every second of the day wasn't necessarily a reason to sound the alarm. A crack in the facade doesn't mean there's a crack in the foundation. But when Dewan Tatum attended the Vanity Fair Oscar party without him (and with BFF Emanuelle Chriqui) last month, the A-list extravaganza usually a must-do date night for the couple, it prompted some far-reaches-of-the-Internet speculation of trouble in paradise.

Chatting with Entertainment Tonight, Jenna didn't reveal where her husband was, but emphasized that he was not at Jay-Z and Beyoncé's storied after-party without her when that scenario was randomly suggested by the interviewer. She was no more inclined to talk about him when E! News caught up with her at the iHeart Music Awards the following weekend. Tatum was working, she said.

Meanwhile, even if that fairly innocuous Health interview was given weeks before the story was published Feb. 6, Dewan Tatum (soon to be Dewan again?) still sounded eager to put the idea of "perfect" to rest.

"I despise the word 'perfect,'" she said. About the importance of growing together in a marriage, she continued, "Even if one starts to grow, the other catches up and vice versa. But I think a couple needs to be conscious and to want to do the work and be willing to look at the parts of you that need work. Both of us have been pretty aware and willing to do that. We've always had the same values. But we're not perfect! Are you kidding? We fight like other couples, we disagree about things, we have days where we don't really like each other."

Jun Sato/Getty Images

Naturally, it's impossible to keep the honeymoon period alive for the duration of a marriage.

A month after they tied the knot on July 11, 2009, at the Church Estates Vineyards in Malibu, Channing Tatum told People he was "as happy as I possibly can be on the planet right now."

He added, "We've been together, and nothing's really changed. It's pretty much the same as I've felt every day since I met her—and that's just about perfect."

They had met and fallen in love several years beforehand while co-starring in the campy, girl-meets-bad-boy, dance romance Step Up, which has doubled over the years as a watch-on-repeat fan-favorite film and a cinematic chronicle of their meet-cute story.

Touchstone Pictures/Entertainment Pictures/

Emphasis on the fan favorite.

"Me and Jenna just saw Step Up on TV, and we watched it for two seconds," Tatum told Vanity Fair in 2015. "We made that 10 years ago or something. It was hard because you're like, 'Wow, I remember it being so much better.' Then other times you're like, 'I remember it being worse.' Things happen that change your perspective. Not just your opinion but your windshield, your lens. Like you put on a 50-mm. [lens], then take that 50 off and put on a 16. Now you can see so much more, but you're missing the little things. I think for a while I'm going to try to make movies that, even if they don't make a dollar, I'll still be so proud to be a part of them that it won't matter."

Even daughter Everly hadn't caught on to the magic yet last year, with her father telling Ellen DeGeneres that he and Jenna figured their kid would adore the film, but instead she asked, "'Can I watch a real movie? I don't know, like, a good one?'" (Maybe if it wasn't Frozen it was going to be a fail no matter what.) 

"I'm like, 'What do you mean? This is a real movie! This is such a real movie!'" Tatum humorously recalled the encounter. "'They made like seven more of these! You will watch it! Sit down!'"

Kissing Costars: Movies

While it's hardly a stretch to imagine that two hot young actors performing this intimate choreography day after day would fall for each other, a committed relationship may not have been the obvious next step for a then-25-year-old Channing Tatum.

Tatum told Howard Stern in 2015 that he had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and "was in no way, shape or form looking to get into another relationship. I was like, 'OK, now it's time to play...' I was gonna go and just live the life that you'd think you would probably live if you're an actor in Hollywood. And then I ran smack into Jenna."

And yes, the dancing was hot, but "it's not just really the dancing," he said. "It's who she is. She really is my counterweight in life."

On Ellen last April, Jenna recalled telling her would-be suitor, "I said, 'Well look, if you want to date other people and be free that's totally fine. But we're not gonna hang out and watch movies. You have to figure out what you want because I want a relationship.'"

Phillip Caruso/Buena Vista Pictures

Three nights later, he knocked on her hotel room door wearing only his underwear, plus a sombrero and Uggs, and declared, "'Let's do this.'"

"It's even worse," Jenna continued, "because the next morning he was in my room and I go to set because I had an earlier call time. I'm getting hair and makeup done and an hour goes by and the production assistants go, 'We can't find Channing. We don't know where he is. He's not in his room. We've banged on his door and called his room.' And I called a PA over and said, 'He's in my room.'"

"I knew instantly that we had chemistry and it wasn't just going to be a 'hey, what's up' [hookup]," Tatum told Stern. They tried to "do it right," as in abstain from sex while they were working, so they actually waited three months, he remembered. "We were doing enough [in the meantime], but we wanted it to be special."

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Their physical connection ever since has admittedly been an important part of their relationship.

Tatum has said that he and his wife tried to stick to the two-week rule, and that it was never not worth it to scramble for a reunion when their work schedules kept them apart for too long, such as for three weeks instead of two.

"It's a good rule to have...Buildup, man. I'm not good with buildup," he laughed on The Howard Stern Show. "And if he has to go somewhere halfway around the world to shoot, "I've taken really long flights, like for nine hours on the ground, I've done it...It's the most expensive booty call that I've ever [made]." He joked that absence making the heart grow fonder probably worked for some people, but "I need it around."

"I have a hard time actually seeing her on, like, FaceTime—it makes me miss her more and I start pouting," he also told People back in 2012.

"I'm a very sensual person, same with Chan. It is just how we're made up, and it's a big part of how we connect," Dewan Tatum told Health in her recent interview. "There's a real tangible physical connection. You know when Oprah asks, 'What do you know for sure?' The body does not lie. You can convince your mind of things, think you're in love, but your body doesn't lie. If your stomach is clenching or you feel attracted, that's all for a reason. You can't convince your body to feel something it doesn't."

Channing Tatum's Best Roles

And they always had their dancing, the couple's willingness to bust a few moves at parties adding to their golden-couple cachet.

But starting with the summer they got married, when Tatum starred with Johnny Depp in Michael Mann's gangster drama Public Enemies and then top-lined G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, his career really took off and never looked back. (Though, once again, Tatum was critical of the finished product, telling Stern about G.I. Joe, "I f--king hate that movie. I was pushed into doing that movie.")

Tatum collaborated for the first time with Steven Soderbergh on Haywire, then it was onto the magical 2012 that begot the semi-autobiographical Magic Mike (also directed by Soderbergh) and 21 Jump Street and culminated in him being named People's Sexiest Man Alive.

"I think it's an honor, because it's a great league of people that have been given this honor before him," Dewan Tatum told People, reacting to the news—which, she said, Channing gave her while they were both elbow-deep in the tub scrubbing their dogs off after they were sprayed by a skunk.

"I'm not quite sure why the skunk smell made him think about it," she wondered. "Maybe it was the fact that it was the last thing something the Sexiest Man Alive would be doing. But I don't know. Maybe it was the sexy skunk musk that made him think of it."

On a more heartfelt note, Jenna also told the magazine about her man-of-the-moment husband, "He's super romantic: Once, he planned this secret trip to Hawaii for my birthday. People know him to be fun and sexy, but they don't know how emotionally deep and spiritually open he is. I think Chan would be the best father. He has a special gift with kids. He is such an openhearted person; what you see is what you get. He's pretty amazing."

Sony Pictures Classics

In 2014 Tatum earned the best acting reviews of his career and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Foxcatcher, playing real-life wrestler Mark Schultz, and 22 Jump Street bested the original at the box office.

Already a regular Soderbergh player, Tatum then worked with Quentin Tarantino on The Hateful Eight and the Coen brothers on Hail, Caesar!, and the acting career he worried was in jeopardy when he had to play studio ball and do G.I. Joe was unquestionably happening.

Last year he reunited with Soderbergh for the fourth time (fifth if you count the prolific filmmaker producing Magic Mike XXL) on the Netflix movie Logan Lucky and starred in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Jenna Dewan Tatum's career was booming on the small screen, meanwhile, with her scoring roles in American Horror Story: Asylum and Super Girl and starring in her own series, Witches of East End, on Lifetime. Her dancing resume makes her a familiar presence on all the TV dance competitions and last year she hosted the inaugural season of ABC's World of Dance.

But at the end of the day, she was dealing with marriage, motherhood, her own career and her husband turning into one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. 


"I think it's important to be conscious about giving everyone equal attention," Dewan Tatum told People in 2016. "I'll think, 'OK, I've been with my daughter a lot, so Channing and I need a date night...Some days I am better at it than others, but I just try to figure it out. Like everyone else! But I do think it's important to consciously think about it."

"None of this is easy but at the same time it's everything I would have ever wanted," Tatum told People in 2015. But becoming a husband and father, "it really made things super clear," he added.

He told Howard Stern around that time, "Having a daughter has helped me [rein in his work obligations]. You look at time. I only have so much time on this earth and I have to be able to look at her at some point and go 'this was worth me taking time away out of our lives together,' and other than that, just do really great stuff that almost doesn't matter about the box office and stuff like that."

Asked how he and his wife managed jealousy and the inevitable temptation that comes with being famous and being in close quarters with other members of the opposite sex, Tatum said that really hadn't been his experience since he and Jenna got together.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

"The temptation really isn't, I think, an aspect," he said in 2015. "And I don't really know how to describe that, other than if you keep the line taut between you and your lover, the person you devoted your life to, that doesn't have any room to squeak in. I lived a crazy life before [back in his stripper days]… I've had long term relationships, then really crazy play in between, and then a long relationship...

"Once I've sort of made the decision [to commit], it doesn't ever really become a thing."

Of course the subject came up again, and he insisted temptation wasn't an issue for him, not least because his wife would even "know if I woke up and had dreams...She's like, 'what's up, what's wrong?'" But overall, "she just knows how to keep me there and present with her."

More recently it appears that they've been fully present for their daughter, with Tatum posting on March 18 a pic of himself with Jenna after Everly had practiced her face-painting skills on Mom and Dad.

"This is what it looks like when a little tyrant fairy artist holds you down and makes your face look 'better,'" he wrote. Jenna showed off some shots of Everly's handiwork on her Instagram story along with a pic of Channing and the child in their backyard pool.

On March 26, they didn't do red carpet together but Jenna brought Everly to the Kids' Choice Awards to watch her dad get pummeled with snowballs and introduce a clip from his animated movie Smallfoot.

Tatum last paid social media tribute to his wife the day after Dewan's 37th birthday in December.

"This creature is one more year beautiful," he captioned a black and white portrait of her that he took himself. "The transformation she invoked this year has been something they only write about in books of fairytale and magic. Your strength and grace ever evolving. By doing so you make everything around you grow- everything. And i am so very grateful for your lessons. Happy life day my love. #leica."