At the end of 2012's "Magic Mike," Channing Tatum's reluctant stripper walked away from the biz. But he's back at it in 2015's "Magic Mike XXL," running off with the boys for road trip to a convention for male entertainers. One person not back is Matthew McConaughey, though Tatum says that did leave room for some other stars to take his place.

The first “Magic Mike” was based loosely on your past. Any part of yourself wind up in the sequel?

A little bit. I did go to a stripper convention twice, actually. We had a road trip, but everything along the road trip in the film we’ve fictionalized.

Did you miss McConaughey?

I think we all missed him. In my opinion, he was the best part of the movie. So it was definitely a little bittersweet being there with without him. But I got it. He works so hard to sort of change people’s opinion and viewpoint of him. I think he creatively had done everything he could with that role. He just didn’t feel like doing that again, I guess. I get that, I understand.  

But you have some new actors in this film, like Amber Heard.

For me that was kind of one of the lucky things — a happy accident or blessing in disguise. By not having such a big character like McConaughey, lots of other characters come to the front. So we have very strong female characters, Amber being one of them. My favorite part is that you have a beautiful, charismatic, talented girl or woman in a part, and she doesn’t have to be a romantic interest, like girls always seem be sort of defaulted into that role. And I think that one of the most fascinating things that we did with her character was that Mike and this girl meet on the road. It had some sort of context but it’s not a sexual one. 

Women in Hollywood have to conform to a certain image: young and skinny. Do you think men are getting the same pressure?

I don’t know. I think there are all types. I think in reality things are different and not like in movies and magazines. I know a lot of women that like burly lumberjack-looking men. You don’t have to have a six-pack to be a good-looking person in my opinion.

Usually, it's women who are expected to undress and look sexy on screen. Would you consider “Magic Mike XXL” a feminist film?

Feminism is a very hard word. As a man it’s tough for me to say and talk about that. I would never talk about being a feminist as I’m not a woman. And I know you can be, but I’m not going to do that now. I just know that I respect them; I think that we’re doing our part for equal opportunity objectification.