We are at the Tad Gormley Stadium in the heart of New Orleans, a hot spot for TV and Film these days, to visit the set of “22 Jump Street.” On this particular day in November 2013, we joined a select group of film reporters to witness Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in action. They are reprising their roles as Jenko and Schmidt, respectively. Tatum, Hill and the directors are trying to make us think that there is no way this sequel could possibly be better than “21 Jump Street.” “Sequels are more expensive and shittier,” Hill declares. Yet, everything we saw was pretty hilarious.
Hill and Tatum are decked out in orange and blue football uniforms. Their undercover mission continues in college this time around, so they are integrating themselves in all aspects of college life. Today they are participating in drills for the school football team. This school is called Metropolitan City State. (That’s a joke in itself). Several extras are hanging out in the stadium, dressed in football gear, as well. In one scene, before a play, Tatum pulls out a Q-Tip and dramatically sticks it in his hear to clean it. “This is a weird time to be Q-Tipping,” Schmidt (Hill) says. Jenko (Tatum) replies that he wants to be able to hear everything that is going on. He then tries to dissuade Hill from going forward with playing for the team. Schmidt clearly doesn’t have the build or agility for football, but he is not convinced, “We do everything together!”
We are stationed in a little tent with monitors and headphones on the other side of the field and we’re given copies of the script to follow along. It was a fascinating process. On the monitors we had an up close view of the scene. While, both actors did many takes on script, they also improvised. We are also introduced to two new actors: Wyatt Russell who plays Zook and Jimmy Tatro who plays Rooster.
Tatum and Hill joined us for a roundtable Q&A. You can read highlights from Hill’s interview here. Below are highlights from Channing Tatum’s reflections on the sequel:
Q: Why is Jenko not excited to go to college?
Tatum: Well, it’s just the same thing. He feels like it’s just gonna be an extension of high school and I think it’s obvious because Jenko hates reading … he knows that there’s ultimately going to have to be reading in college.
Q: How is the backdrop different in college?
Tatum: And why you would want to go to college to begin with. You know, to have sex with the girls and to go to spring break and stuff like that. I don’t think we’re giving away too much talking about that stuff but … there might be that in this movie … Maybe!
Q: Speak about your character’s relationship with Schmidt.
Tatum: We’re still in like a girl-boy relationship in the movie.
Tatum: I don’t know who’s the girl but…
Hill: Well Schmidt is probably…I don’t know…more feminine.
Q: Can you speak about collaborating with Chris Miller and Phil Lord again?
Tatum: Dude, they’re awesome. They come from an animation world that … all of this is almost painful for them. They’re like, “God. I just want to get in and edit.” They’re just like put me in a dark room with an editor and a screen and that’s when they’re gonna make the movie … This is their second movie really and … they’re so much more comfortable than the first time but still, you know, we get here and we’re just like, “Alright, there’s infinite possibilities of where the camera can go, where you can set the people, what are you gonna have in the foreground?” They are just amazing to collaborate with because they are not like, “It has to be this way, this is the way we’ve envisioned it,” … they really want everybody’s input and to go on the fly. It’s just a lot of fun.
Q: Without giving much away, does this movie have bigger action scenes and bigger everything?
Tatum: Yes … I straight up got to to ride on a semi at like 90 MPH on top of it … it was crazy.
Q: Can you speak about collaborating with Ice Cube again?
Tatum: He comes in everyday and goes, “hey hey!” I mean…my day is made then, I’m just like cool! Check the box, again.
Q: For college students, music is the soundtrack to their life when they’re in school so what would be your character’s soundtrack?
Tatum: You know, we make a lot of jokes that like…especially in the first one, that no one knows the movies that we know because we’re so old and so our music references are probably really old as well.
Hill: We do a lot in this movie where we look older … older than a couple of years ago when we made the first movie and–
Tatum: It was actually, the first thing you said to me after we did the first take, we went back and looked at the camera–
Hill: It was shocking.
Tatum: I was like, “God damn we’ve gotten old in three years!”
Tatum: My character listens to a lot of (imitates house music beat).
Tatum: It’s very complicated stuff.
Q: Was there a reluctance on any of your parts to do a sequel? The charm of the first one is 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?
Tatum: Because people kind of want it but then they want it how they envision it and how they remember it and you want to give them something different so you kind of have to take some risks and what not so I hope they like it.
Q: After the first one, are a lot of your friends and actors clamoring for a cameo?
Tatum: Pretty much everyone … they were like, “Dude, I want in.” And even people that aren’t in the industry, the acting industry. And other industries that are well known they’re just like, “Man, this shit’s awesome. We want in.” But we don’t want to have every single person, it kind of takes you out of the movie. But there might be some people…
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?
Tatum: Maybe cheerleading. I don’t know.
Hill: But Jenko was a great football player in high school and … he kind of finds his first love again.
Q: Have you been prepping for the football scenes?
Tatum: Oddly enough, no. I’ve kind of hurt both of my feet, so I haven’t really done very much and we’ve been shooting so … it’s not gonna be like “The Program” or anything, it’s not gonna be like massive games or anything, but we’re gonna have enough that you believe it.
Q: Have either of you ever played before?
Tatum: Yeah I played. I played 10 years, one year in college. 10 years total.
Q: Does it feel like a flashback or is it just so far removed?
Tatum: Yeah! The couple of practices I did go to I was like, “Wow, I forgot what this was like and how fast everything is.” Some of these kids are ridiculously talented. Some of them played D-1.
Check out these exclusive photos from set below: