In an interview with Vanity Fair (via Variety), Channing Tatum expressed how he was contractually obligated to star in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” despite rejecting the role many, many times. “The first one I passed on seven times, but they had an option on me and I had to do the movie. So the second one, I obviously just didn’t want to do that one either,” Tatum revealed. Some context: Tatum signed a three-picture deal with Paramount Pictures, which started with “Coach Carter.” The contract forced his hand, but Tatum was able to sneak his way out of the franchise without breaking it.
Once he knew “G.I. Joe” was not the best career move moving forward, he put in the request to remove himself from it. It was granted, but he still had to appear in the sequel. The early out was given to Tatum when Duke dies in the opening minutes of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” thus transferring over the starring role to Dwayne Johnson. Duke Hazard dying was actually a concept the 1987 animated film “G.I. Joe: The Movie” explored before removing it in the final cut, so “Retaliation” coincidentally paid homage to it.
In the Howard Stern interview, Tatum admitted he loved “G.I. Joe,” and even revealed he wanted to play Snake Eyes in the film before being offered Duke. But when Vanity Fair asked if he regretted the decision of leaving the series, Tatum gave the obvious answer: “No.”