The Source Magazine had the opportunity to chat with the film’s star, co-writer and producer Jonah Hill on set. Hill is a major hip-hop head, so having the legendary Ice Cube star in “21 Jump Street,” was a huge honor and he was excited to work with Cube again on “22 Jump Street.” He said, “it’s a true childhood dream to be able to hang out with him.” Hill continued:
I ask him all about N.W.A, his career and then I ask him about Kendrick Lamar and all the rappers now and I love to hear his opinion on everything. He’s so smart when it comes to all facets of the entertainment business. He’s really been successful in so many different areas.
This time around Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) are continuing their undercover operation in college. Because the Koreans bought their church back, the gang is headquartered across the street at 22 Jump Street.
Read our full interview below:
Q: Talk about the expectations! The first movie came out and nobody expected a lot from it and it was so awesome and so funny. Now you guys have all of those expectations and so as producers, actors can you talk about that?
Hill: Well when we were writing this one, the biggest thing to keep in mind, like we did in the first one, was we called ourselves out for the lameness of recycling an idea for a TV show into a film and I think that worked to our benefit. And we call ourselves out right out of the gate in this one, that sequels are bigger and crappier than the first ones. And so that’s kind of the approach we’re taking with this is to have a very aware attack at ourselves for making a sequel in the first place.
Q: Is there a sense that this time around that your character kind of peaked in high school?
Hill: No, but do you want to write for the movie? That would be awesome. We could use all your input–where were you while we were writing?! I don’t want to give too much away about what happens…
Q: At the end of the first movie, Schmidt is extremely excited about the idea of going to college while Jenko is not so much excited so I’m curious, where does that lead into this film?
Hill: Yeah, again, we just don’t want to give too much away but it dives into what our college experiences were like initially. And why we’d want to change–rewrite the past, if that.
Q: Can you talk about how the college backdrop is different from high school? Because you guys have the high school parties and you have to read and stuff in high school as well. So how is college different for these guys?
Hill: It’s interesting to do an interview while you’re making a film, it always is. Because you usually, when we’d be doing these interviews, you’d have seen the film and understand some of that stuff but again, I just want it to be fun for everyone to watch it so you don’t go too much into it. A lot of stuff about college is figuring out who you are, you’re identity, and a lot of the movie is about our relationship and kind of going to college with your hometown honey and then the world opening up to you when you get to this new place.
Q: Without giving much away, does this movie have bigger action scenes and bigger everything?
Hill: Yes. I mean, the basic idea is like from “Bad Boys” 1 to “Bad Boys” 2 … The initial thought when I first was starting to write the first movie was “Bad Boys” meets a John Hughes movie. And then the only way to make fun of ourselves in this movie properly is that sequels are more expensive and shittier than the first ones and so the idea is that–and what I think the guys have really been pulling off, Phil and Chris, is that it really does feel like a big, giant movie but with really stupid jokes. Which is kind of great, which is super entertaining hopefully … It looks like a Michael Bay movie, it’s pretty awesome.
Q: Can you speak about collaborating with Ice Cube again?
Hill: He was my childhood hero and during the first one, the first thing we wrote down was, Ice Cube, the guy who wrote “Fuck the Police” should play the police captain because I grew up in L.A. and he’s my actual hero from growing up so…yeah, it’s a true childhood dream to be able to hang out with him and I ask him all about N.W.A, his career and then I ask him about Kendrick Lamar and all the rappers now and I love to hear his opinion on everything. He’s so smart when it comes to all facets of the entertainment business. He’s really been successful in so many different areas.
Q: The movie is called “22 Jump Street,” does that mean the building that Ice Cube ran is literally across the street now?
Hill: Yes. Well because – I don’t want to give too much away … Seriously, it would just be less fun for people if they know all the jokes.
Q: For college students, music is the soundtrack to their lives when they’re in school so what would be your characters’ soundtrack?
Hill: We do a lot in this movie where we look older that you know, older than a couple of years ago when we made the first movie and … It was shocking … It sucks to watch. I had watched the first movie the night before and then we started with the same set that we did on the first film, the second film–the same set and actors and I watched the first take and I was like, “Chan we look a lot older than we did in the first movie.” And so we had to kind of incorporate that into the film. To answer the question about music is yeah a lot of the music that our guys listen to…it’s funny to us because the kids now wouldn’t know the bands and rappers and stuff the same way and that is part of the fun of it. But my character ends up listening to a lot of, here in this movie, Robert Smith and it’s a lot of very emotional.
Q: Was there a reluctance on any of your parts to do a sequel? The charm of the first one…it was sort of an ambush, no one really expected the take on it. But now you can’t surprise us, right? Or can you?
Hill: Well, when…I had a meeting with the studio probably halfway through shooting the first one when they came down here and said, “Would you want to start writing a sequel?” and I said…I had never done a sequel before to any movies that I was in and I thought that it was because it couldn’t be as good or better but I thought that…the premise of the second one is going to college and there hasn’t been a great college movie of our generation yet…there have been like “Animal House” and all these great college movies but there hasn’t been a really memorable one for around now. And so I thought when you take all the rules of high school away from these guys and put them in college, that seems a lot more comedically fertile. And so I was like, “Okay, that could actually be funnier or as funny as the first one.” But of course … that’s why we call ourselves out because you feel like you’re gonna disappoint everyone inevitably, you know what I mean?
Q: You guys were doing the football thing out there. Talk about the prep that you had to go through to look believable doing that or to look unbelievable, I guess.
Hill: I did no preparation because this is my only football scene. I basically get murdered out there and then … I go a different direction. But Jenko was a great football player in high school and … he kind of finds his first love again.
Q: What were the biggest challenges for making the”21 Jump Street” sequel in terms of timing?
Hill: I think that bands have it a lot, or rappers, or musicians it’s like a sophomore slump where you have all the stories and experiences from the first one–this experience for me, this was a lot of the experiences I’ve had for the first 25 years of my life that I put into this movie. Then you have a year and a half to make a second one but … luckily, they weren’t like, “This is your date.” They were like, “Here’s where we feel ready to make a good movie,” and then they chose a date that was reachable from that point. But neither of us were gonna come back and just make a second movie, you know. So it was like everyone put–all the writers, and directors and all of us–we all put the time in to make sure that this was gonna be something special before we even agreed to go forward.
Check out these exclusive photos from set below: