'22 Jump Street': Channing Tatum, Directors on Bromance, Meta-Sequels and Jonah Hill's Gay Slur
Bumbling drug-busting duo Jenko and Schmidt head to college undercover in 22 Jump Street, which pokes fun at Channing Tatum in more ways than one.
"There' s a lot in the movie that's actually so indicative of my life!" Tatum told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere Wednesday at New York City's AMC Lincoln Square, after taking a slew of selfies with fans outside the theater. "There's a line, 'I'm the first person in my family to fake-go to college,' and that's pretty much the reality in my life."
A handful of comedic moments in 21 Jump Street, along with Tatum's character's (Jenko) arc, are quite tightly based on the actor's life, as the dimwitted athlete makes the football team and ostracizes Jonah Hill's Schmidt. "Chan actually went to college for just about a semester to play football -- he thought he was going to be a pro football player -- and then dropped out, so he never got the opportunity to go to college in real life," said Tatum's producing partner, Reid Carolin. "So there was something really cool about, 'I want to play a guy who gets a second chance to go back to college.' I think he got really excited about doing the football scenes. He put a lot of preparation into it."
The film takes a comedic -- and, arguably, critical -- approach to Hollywood's concept of a sequel. "The big joke is, obviously, sequels are a terrible idea -- they're just more expensive and worse than the first one, and they're 'missions,' not movies," Tatum told reporters on the red carpet. (He admitted that the joke's on him though, as he's currently finishing the script for Magic Mike XXL. "Look, it's hard! I thought Magic Mike was going to be easier to write because we left so much creatively on the table, but it's one of the things that you got to work," he told THR of that sequel, set to center on the gang attending a stripper convention. "We're gonna take our liberties. You gotta get up to the plate and swing for the fences; you can't just be 'meh.' ")
Therefore, the 22 Jump Street creative team evoked a self-awareness that came complete with its own comedic opportunities. "There's always a moment when you're trying to make a sequel that you think to yourself, no matter how well the first one did, 'God, the bar is set so high -- should we actually go back to do this again?' Everyone wants you to go back in, but you all look at each other and say, 'Is this worth it?' " said Carolin, who tracked the idea to a line that screenwriter Michael Bacall slipped into the script's first draft ("We've doubled the budget, as if that would double the profit"). "I remember everybody read that line and thought, 'That's the movie!' So the thing that made everyone perk up, laugh and want to explore it is making fun of all the things that people do in sequels."
Of the meta approach, Ice Cube said, "It's fun -- it includes the audience. And I'm the king of sequels!" Castmembers Amber Stevens and Kenny and Keith Lucas also hit the premiere, noting that filming was full of improv sessions and that the viral spoof of Jean Claude Van Damme's epic split was all Tatum's idea.
Directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller shared what's behind the onscreen magic between Tatum and Hill: "They're so natural, they play great together, they authentically care about one another and respect each other -- it's great to see," said Lord. Then they commented on whether the controversy surrounding Hill, for shouting a gay slur at a paparazzo, will affect the film's reception. "We're just trying to move past those comments -- it was obviously disappointing, but the Jonah we know is different than that," Lord told THR. Miller added, "We think the movie stands on its own and people will want to enjoy it for what it is, which is a fun time."
Ice Cube also reassured, "Jonah's a good guy. I think his apology is very sincere, and all the guy can do is apologize for saying something stupid." Hill hit the premiere's carpet solely for press photos -- accessorized with NYPD officers -- and then left to film a Colbert Report segment.
Nevertheless, Tatum praised his real-life "bromance" companion, Carolin. "About two years ago, Reid and I decided, 'All right, we're really gonna try to do this, put up a flag and make a statement in the town,' " he reflected of his journey as a producer alongside Carolin. "We had to just start. To cut to two years later and we're actually doing it, it's a great validation. I love that guy - he's super smart, super funny. He's truly my other half, and I don't mean that in a light way."
Rachel Dratch, Jay Pharoah, Daily Show's Jessica Williams, Fault in Our Stars' screenwriter Michael Weber and actor Mike Birbiglia, indie rock duo Matt and Kim, British band Lawson and football player Jason Pierre-Paul also attended the premiere, which was sponsored by Entertainment Weekly and Fiji Water and followed by an afterparty at Midtown hotspot Lavo.
22 Jump Street hits theaters June 13.