Stars of ‘21 Jump Street’ discuss comedy, fame


In the new big screen adaptation of the popular 80’s TV show “21 Jump Street,” heartthrob Channing Tatum and funny-man Jonah Hill play inept cops who go undercover as high school students to investigate a drug ring. Ice Cube plays Captain Dickson, the man in charge of the undercover cops in this hilarious action-comedy, which hits theaters on March 16th. The Miami Hurricane, along with other press organizations, got to sit down with the guys and to discuss the film, their high school experiences and embarrassing baby photos while they were in Miami promoting the film

You appeared in the comedy “She’s the Man” and this is your second comedy. How does it feel to get into a comedy after doing a long string of action movies and dramas?
Channing Tatum: Man, It was pretty crazy. I couldn’t believe Jonah was calling me for it. I thought he had the    wrong number or something.
Jonah Hill: Turns out I did.
CT: Yeah. He was actually calling…
JH: I felt too awkward so…
CT: Who were you trying to call?
JH: I was trying to call Whoopi Goldberg
CT: Oh, sure, sure.
JH: Because I thought she’d make the perfect counterpart but then I was too embarrassed so I just kept going and now here we are.
CT: Common mistake. Pretty embarrassing.
Ice Cube: When I heard he was doing the movie, I was like, ‘Damn, Jonah, you greedy motherf*****r. You trying to steal all the scenes and all the laughs’…
[All laugh]
CT: But yeah, he just promised me I would be funny and if I wasn’t, I was gonna choke him the f*** out… or blame it on him.
JH: Yeah he was gonna hurt me.
Channing, how often are you asked to dance with someone?
CT: All the time. Please don’t do it.
What was it like to host SNL?
CT: Nuts, man. I’ve never been through something quite that crazy. You just feel like you’re running downhill and like you’re about to fall, and then it’s over. And you’re just like, ‘Thank God I didn’t fall on my face.’ That’s it, you know. And you can only pray that everyone else felt the same way.
Did Jonah give you any advice?
CT: ‘Don’t suck.’
JH: Did I give you any advice?
CT: I don’t know if you gave me any advice. You told me what to expect. Oh, you told me to have fun.
JH: That’s good advice. [Laughs] I’m a wise man. I just kind of broke down how the show works because there’s no kind of advice you can give, just more like ‘here’s what to be prepared for’ because it’s a gnarly work schedule. It’s not like it’s normal.
Craziest thing you guys did to cheat for a test in high school?
CT: Sex with a teacher. I’m just kidding, I don’t know.
JH: My friend, she’s a really good friend of mine, she has really huge breasts, and she would distract this one teacher with her huge breasts, and then my other friend would go on the computer and change our grades.
IC: Damn. That’s pretty elaborate…I didn’t take it serious enough to cheat, like that. I was like, man, f**k it. I didn’t read the book last night.
JH: If we put half as much effort into studying as we did into cheating, we probably would have gotten straight As anyway. That’s what I always kept thinking. [All laugh] I’m going through a lot of trouble, like hours spent to not learn, when I could be spending hours learning.
This movie looks like it was so much fun to film. What scene was the hardest to get through without laughing?
CT: Anything with Rob Riggle in it. Like I don’t know what it is about him but he’s maybe the funniest person that I’ve ever been in a scene with. You’ll never see me in a frame with Rob cuz I just couldn’t keep my shit together.
Like the scene with the tongues?
JH:That was improvised…I was like, put your hand in my mouth. I told him, it’s fun, touch my tongue…in the trailer, I’m laughing. They used an actual clip of me laughing…cuz we’re on drugs so it’s okay but I’m supposed to be having a straight face but Rob is too funny, I can’t. Actually the one they used in the movie I’m laughing.
CT: You had two different dudes’ hands in your mouth now that I think about it.
JH: Yeah I like dudes’ hands in my mouth…I should write a movie where good stuff happens to me, instead of bad stuff. [Laughs]
How is the movie similar to your high school experience, if there are any similarities?
CT: Nah. Nothing really.
IC: Come on, man. The Eminem thing. Don’t lie.
JH: I didn’t lie. Yeah I unfortunately had the Eminem bleached hair and the ball chain thing.
Jonah, when you were at the Oscars and Billy Crystal started singing a song about you, your first thought in your head was what?
JH: I was just thinking, I can’t believe I’m nominated for an Oscar. A couple of people asked me about it, I guess he was making fun of me or something. But I was just, like, excited to be there. I was just happy to be there with my mom, that Billy Crystal even knew my name…It’s super surreal.
Ice Cube, during your scenes as the captain and with funny guys like Channing and Jonah, was there any particular part of the movie where you couldn’t keep a straight face?
IC: Nah
CG: We couldn’t crack him, man. He’s like so serious.
IC: It was cool, and the thing is the hardest part of working on these comedies is not laughing, and that’s why where the work is. It’s like oh shit, hold your water, cuz you know this dude is gonna come with some adlib you’re not ready for or you’re gonna have a take on it that you’re not expecting. You know pretty much coming off the cuff, every scene he’s gonna give you something different, you know, so you just gotta be ready…all the laughter comes after the take. Everybody puts laughs in their pocket.
Jonah, were those real baby pictures of you in the movie?
JH: Unfortunately.

What gave you the idea to use them in the movie?
JH: Because my friends made fun of me about them for so many years, like every time someone would come over my house.

Were they on display?

JH: Yeah.
CT: Oh man, they’re lit like the Smithsonian. They’re like the lourve in his house.
JH: They’re like Chagall’s and Warhol’s. And so I was like, ‘you know what? I’ve had to suffer and I’m going to get you guys back and make you look like weirdos for taking these pictures.’ My parents haven’t seen the movie yet so I’m actually kind of excited for them to see it. My mom doesn’t get why they’re funny. That’s what’s crazy. She’s like, ‘why are they funny?’ and I’m like, ‘you’re so weird.’

Would your friends mess with them like they did in the movie?
JH: They didn’t draw on them because my mom would’ve chopped their hands off but my friends all have pictures next to them, like us drunk, and making faces like some of this stuff. [More laughter]
As producers, how important was it to keep it R-rated? Because right now there are too many PG-13 movies out that are just not funny.
JH: Well, you know, I think it’s all dependent on the movie. You know, not all movies have to be R, not all movies have to be PG-13. I think it depends on the story you’re trying to tell.  With this movie we wanted to make “Bad Boys” meets a John Hughes movie and for that you need an R rating. So I just put that in my contract and contractually if you wanted me involved it had be to be R-rated…But then there’s a movie idea I just came up with recently that is better as a PG-13 movie. You don’t [always] need to make it an R rated film.
How brutal was it training to be a cop?
JH: It was brutal, man. I really put myself through the ringer.
CT: I didn’t do shit.
JH: I was supposed to be the inept cop, so like…
CT: I think that was the point. We didn’t want to go through and look all like, you know, flawless.
Jonah, 21 Jump Street has always been on your list of films that were getting ready. How does it feel to finally have this movie released?
J: It’s really weird because for five years, from 23 to 28 years old, I’ve been working on this movie. And it’s bizarre because every interview I’ve done since it got announced five years ago, everyone asks me about “21 Jump Street.” And it’s bizarre that after this they won’t ask me that anymore. It’s weird because I always had this thing that I knew I was doing…and now that it’s done it’s a very weird, bittersweet feeling. I was glad that I loved the movie so much, that I didn’t waste five years of my life on a bad movie.
What was it like playing roles within roles, like being high school students and police officers…and Peter Pan?
JH: I was Doug, Schmidt, and Peter Pan. Daniel Day Lewis couldn’t do that. I was three characters in one day – Do you realize the layers of that? I lost myself. Ask your readers if they understand the dedication that takes.
CT: Green tights are hard to pull off.
JH: Well I’ll say this, a lot of this stuff come from preparing for “Superbad,” because I was a guy in his 20’s pretending he was 17, and this film, we’re guys in our 20s pretending to be 17. So a lot of it was based on that.
Channing, what was it like for you to play a guy playing another guy?
CT: I don’t think Jenko even understood that he was playing another guy. I don’t think he’s even that smart. I don’t think he got the joke.
How would you like to see the story progress in the sequel if it gets made?
JH: We can’t talk about it.
CT: It’s top secret.
I: I would like to see the story progress with me getting more money.