21 Jump Street, a movie based on the melodramatic television show of the late 80s starring Johnny Depp, has been revamped into a comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as police officers going undercover to bust a drug ring in a high school.
The stars of the movie sat down with the CUI at a press junket in Denver to discuss their roles.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill
Wearing matching police uniforms and leaning back in their chairs, Tatum and Hill made no indication that they were taking themselves seriously. Which might make sense, considering Jonah Hill spent a full semester of college at CU Boulder.
“Libby Hall represent,” Hill said with a laugh. “I had fun at CU. That was the issue, I had too much fun. I didn’t have a major and I left with no credits.”
Jonah, who looked visibly exhausted after returning from the Oscars after being nominated for best supporting actor in Moneyball, said it was an incredible experience.
“It was a really surreal night,” he said. “I felt overjoyed.”
While Hill channeled his inner partier for scenes in the movie as officer Schmidt, Tatum said he stuck with what he knew playing officer Jenko.
“In high school I was a jock,” Tatum said. “I didn’t like school. I slept through it mostly, so it was kind of my own fault. Thank God acting worked out for me.”
A southern boy at heart, Channing said leaving the swamps for L.A. life hasn’t changed him.
“I grew up in the sticks of Alabama, the red clay country type place, then the swamps in Mississippi and then Tampa, Florida,” he said. “L.A. is just a bunch of strip malls. I don’t think it’s that pretty, it just has a bunch of people. I think if the film industry wasn’t there it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
On choosing to turn the once-serious television drama into a comedy, Jonah Hill said he was on board with the idea.
“My agent thought it would be a good idea to make it as a comedy,” Hill said. “I liked the idea of going back to high school thinking you have all the answers and being wrong.”
“I was an avid fan of the show,” Tatum added. “My sister and I always used to watch it.
Hill, who has slimmed down considerably since his appearance in Superbad, gave some tips on his current diet.
“Lately I’ve just been drinking a lot of beer, but I’ve been trying to eat a lot of fish and vegetables,” Hill said. “I feel good.”
Both Hill and Tatum agreed that the funniest person on the set was Rob Riggle.
“You won’t see a lot of three shots with me, Jonah and Rob because I can’t keep a straight face,” Tatum said. “He can make me laugh just by looking at me and it sucks, I’d feel very unprofessional because I kept ruining takes.”
Rob Riggle, who has been on SNL and worked as a correspondent for The Daily Show in the past, plays the loud and unruly gym teacher, Mr. Walters.
With years of improve experience under his belt, Riggle gave some tips on being a well-rounded comedian.
“I view comedy as having all the petals of a flower,” Riggle said. “As a comedian, you need to be able to do long-form improv, know how to write a sketch, do standup, and see what it’s like to be out there by yourself in front of a crowd and what works and doesn’t. All those petals are what make up a beautiful comedy.”
While Riggle enjoys being a funnyman, as a Lt. Colonel in the Marines he said he was all business when it came to leading troops.
“I had confidants and friends and fellow officers that I would relax around and we enjoyed each others’ humor and had fun,” he said. “But when you’re leading marines, you don’t want to be a goofball. They’re counting on you to be a square shooter and taking care of business and handling things properly. I never wanted to give them the sense that I was a screw off. It was a totally different hat.”
While he hopes to continue acting and potentially star in a leading role, Riggle said he has other dreams after acting as well.
“I’d like to teach, to be honest,” he said. “I’d like to go back and get a teaching degree. I’m a history buff and was a drama and film major, so maybe I could offer something.”
Riggle will be performing standup at the Comedy Works in Denver, April 5th.
Ice Cube plays the intentionally over-aggressive boss Captain Dickson, leading the investigation as he screams at officers Schmidt and Jenko the length of the movie.
Asked why he had decided to play a police officer after years of gaining notoriety for the song “Fuck tha Police,” Cube just gave a shrug.
“I felt like I had finally succumbed to the conspiracy of Hollywood trying to put me and Ice-T in cop roles,” he said.
Ultimately, Cube said he feels that Ice-T plays the better cop.
“I’m the cop who’s secretly a crook looking for that big score,” he said.
Cube said he had fun playing a cop nonetheless.
“It’s acting at the end of the day,” he said. “I definitely support cop acting more than cops. But all of ‘em ain’t bad, just most of ‘em.”
Cube said he was on board with making 21 Jump Street a comedy for a college-age audience.
“That’s what’s cool about this movie: we take a serious premise and bring it up to date, wink about it and actually make something that’s more fitting for what’s popular right now,” he said. “You didn’t have to see the series at all to get into this movie.”
While Ice Cube continues to work on other projects, he briefly let slip his desire for a new Friday movie to come out.
“I can’t tell you about the script, but I’m definitely writing it,” he said. “It’s gonna be funny as shit. Nobody’s signed on yet, but everybody is definitely invited back, I’m gonna write everybody in and uphold what we established with the original Friday. I wanna definitely have it live up to all the expectations, this is my baby right now.”
21 Jump Street comes out in theaters Friday.
Contact CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Murdock at Sebastian.firstname.lastname@example.org.