'22 Jump Street' Directors on Channing Tatum: 'There's No Ego in His Comedy'

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Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill at the premiere

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller spoke to THR at the Los Angeles premiere for the sequel, which sees Tatum and Jonah Hill reprising their roles as undercover cops.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are on top of the world.

Outside the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, the 22 Jump Street stars stood in a DJ booth that towered 12 feet above the red carpet. They shot T-shirts out of a gun to the screaming crowd, and Tatum sent fans into a tizzy when he decided to climb up on the side of the structure, balancing like a cat as fans below waved foam fingers and pom-poms.

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The Los Angeles premiere for Columbia Pictures and MGM's sequel was a lively party, and a perfect match for the college-set sequel.

The comedy, directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, sees Tatum and Hill reprising their roles as bumbling cops who go undercover at a college to infiltrate a drug-dealing operation.

"It started with, 'We're not doing a sequel.' And then, 'Well, maybe, but only if we can get it to be good, and I don't know if we can get it to be good,' " Miller told THR about considering following up their 2012 hit. "And then finally, almost exactly a year ago, we thought, 'OK, I think it can be good.' "

The first film, 21 Jump Street, followed the duo as they went undercover in high school, and was released in March 2012, earning a stellar $201.6 million worldwide. In the sequel, Lord and Miller weren't afraid to poke fun at the movie-making machine, and studios' affinity for churning out sequels.

"We knew we wanted to tell a story about the second chapter in their relationship, and what it means to keep a relationship going, and replicate the first time you fall in love with somebody," Lord told THR. "And that rhymed a lot with what it means to try to replicate the success of a first movie. And once we realized that we could make a sequel about sequels and about extending a marriage, then it got really exciting to us."

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After the screening, the cast, including Tatum, Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle and Wyatt Russell, headed to the W Hotel for the afterparty, which was decorated with beach balls, plenty of red plastic keg cups and tank-top-wearing bartenders.

Lord told THR that Tatum, whose varied career has included dance film Step Up, romantic drama The Vow, actioner G.I. Joe: Retaliation and stripper film Magic Mike, is a "gifted comedian."

"We knew it from the first minute we sat down with him. He's funny, he's playful, he's self-deprecating," said Lord.

"There's no ego in his comedy. He's willing to put himself on the tracks for a joke," he added. "A lot of folks who make their bread and butter by being handsome and charming don't want to do that. That's not who Channing is -- Channing's a modest hero, and that's part of what makes him so funny."

22 Jump Street hits theaters on June 13.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@THR.com
Twitter: @Beccamford