Stars of ’21 Jump Street’ enjoy a Mutt-and-Jeff partnership
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – It’s hard to tell if the two stars of the action-comedy “21 Jump Street” are more in character as cops or as teenagers as they come barging into a press conference for their new movie in full Southern California police gear – embroidered LAPD polos, baggy blue shorts and high-top Converse sneakers sans socks.
Portly Jonah Hill and buff Channing Tatum make a strong case for arrested adolescence as they lope onto a stage to face the entertainment media at a press day hosted by Columbia Pictures at Soho’s tony Crosby Street Hotel.
Hill, just coming off an Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in “Moneyball,” seems ready to have some fun with this long-in-the-making project on which he stars, serves as executive producer and co-writer of the story with screenwriter Michael Bacall.
Tatum, currently appearing in the soft-hearted romance “The Vow” and a veteran of action movies (“Haywire,” “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) but a stranger to comedy, seems a little more tentative about this whole loosey-goosey improv business.
Their oddball partnership on “21 Jump Street” represents a radical reimagining of the late-1980s Fox TV show (which featured the fresh-faced Johnny Depp in a breakout role) about a youthful squad of undercover LAPD cops who pose as high-schoolers to bust crime on campus. In the film, Hill plays the nerdy Schmidt and Tatum portrays the cool jock Jenko, who form an unlikely friendship at the Police Academy and then are assigned to the secret Jump Street unit to infiltrate a local high school.
Hill said he spent five years working to get the film into production, and once he overcame some initial doubts he became convinced that he was onto something special.
“Honestly, when this first came to me it was a dramatic script, and I was really against it. I did not want to make a TV show into a movie. I thought it sounded really lazy and stupid and eye-rolling and unoriginal and all of those things,” he said. “But, really, there’s like a ‘Back to the Future’ element that everyone involved understood.
“The idea of reliving your high school years, and what would that be like, and what is funny about that, what is sad about that,” he said. “And what if you think you have all the answers and you go back and you have none of the answers? And that, to me, is a really, really strong idea for a movie.
“And what if that was like a ‘Bad Boys’ meets a John Hughes movie?” Hill said. “That was what got the train moving, so whether it was called ‘21 Jump Street’ or it was called ‘Narcs’ or it was called ‘Two Cops Go Back to High School,’ I didn’t really care. That idea was what captivated me and made me want to move forward.”
“Have you seen the show in a while?” Tatum chimed in. “You know, it’s pretty funny and cool. I was a fan of the show. I watched it every single Friday. But I don’t really think you have to call this thing ’21 Jump Street,’ but I’m glad they did because I liked the show. And we paid some good homages.”
While Hill is an old hand at comedy, Tatum is widely viewed as a handsome hunk more at home in action fare. So how did he hook up with Hill?
“I got a phone call from Jonah when I was in Toronto shooting a movie, and I wasn’t sure why he was calling me,” Tatum recalled. “But he told me about his passion for ‘Jump Street’ and how long he’s been working on it. And they sent me the script over email. It seemed like one of the most fun scripts I’d read. And I just said, ‘Alright man, if you promise me that I’m going to be funny then I’ll sign on.’ And he did, he really held my hand all the way through it, and they created a great stage for you to be safe to fail and not feel bad if you didn’t know your way into a joke. Like, I know that there should be something funny in here, but I don’t know how to do it. And everybody helped me out with that.”
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 39385Dillon Overton rips former Sooners coach Sunny Golloway on Twitter
- 13186Oklahoma football: New assistant Bill Bedenbaugh discusses state of OU's offensive line
- 12510New OSU CB Tyler Patmon, ex-OU QB Drew Allen among those to benefit from transfer rule
- 11930Live blog: "The Voice" Season 4 live finale - performance episode
- 10305UPDATE: Woman's body found in northwest Oklahoma City, her son arrested
- 7560Oklahoma City Thunder: Hard to tell if Shabazz Muhammad is on OKC's radar
- 7262Oklahoma baseball: Sunny Golloway wasn't Sooners' most beloved coach, but he got results
- 7231Oklahoma State football: Quarterback Wes Lunt transferring to Illinois
- 6637Top 5 regrets of the dying
- 5911Russell Westbrook is off crutches and says he's back
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients