There’s a new class of cadets at 21 Jump Street, and this time, they’re playing it for laughs.
The Stephen J. Cannell TV series that launched Johnny Depp’s career and helped establish Fox as the fourth broadcast network has been reincarnated as an action comedy. It opens March 16, 2012.
Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street), Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street), and Ice Cube ( Boyz N the Hood) traveled to the hinterlands of Colorado in February for roundtable interviews with regional critics and paparazzi.
Creative ambitions? The nature of celebrity? Childhood beginnings?
We didn’t have time for lengthy conversations on any of those topics. Instead, here are a few random words with the boys of21 Jump Street. Asking the questions were Marty Mapes, Movie Habit; Danai Maraire, Attagirl TV; Barry Wurst, Maui Times; and Sheila Smith, Denver Urban Spectrum.
On creative control...
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are executive producers on the movie, and both have said elsewhere that they’d like to have more creative control on their projects.
Jonah Hill: When you go out to make something, you want it to be great. That’s all we as producers are doing, is allowing our power to protect the integrity of what [we’re] doing.
Rob Riggle: In Hollywood you eat what you kill, so I’m looking for work.
On making the dramatic series into a comedy...
Channing Tatum: Channing Tatum: Have you seen the old show lately? It’s pretty much a comedy now.
On playing cops...
Before his solo career, Ice Cube was a member of the rap group N.W.A, well known for its song “Fuck tha Police.” The track appears briefly in the movie and Ice Cube portrays a police officer.
Ice Cube: Hollywood has conspired to get me and Ice-T to play cops. It took ‘em 25 years to get me.
On day jobs conflicting with the biz...
Rob Riggle has been a marine for 22 years and is still active-duty. In 1994 he decided to quit flight school because he was more passionate about comedy. Quitting didn’t sit well with him, so he vowed to get on Saturday Night Live, which he did ten years later.
Rob Riggle: [Between 1994 and 2004] I was sent to Liberia. I was sent to Albania and Kosovo. I worked on the rubble piles at 9/11 at ground zero. I was sent to Afghanistan. But I spent every night that I was in New York, working on comedy.
On barriers within the biz...
Rob Riggle: Hollywood’s tricky. If people get to know you as a comedian, they don’t want to let you go, necessarily. If you try something a little heavier, it takes a while for them to allow you in. I would jump at the opportunity [to do drama]; I don’t know if the opportunities will be there. I did have a shot at a more dramatic role, and I got it, but it came up at the exact same time as The Other Guys started....
Ice Cube: Hollywood has its barriers. Most industries do. So you have to not let those barriers stop you. You have to go in and communicate, one on one, or face to face, or person to person — try to make a human connection. Also, black movies don’t always register in the foreign market. A movie about a black barbershop might not register in Vietnam, or it might not register in Russia. Hollywood is like this: either you’re going to make a super big movie, and it better have action in it, and it better have universal characters like superheroes or aliens, and we can make our money back, [...] or they want to do these small movies that if they lose, they don’t lose big.
Ice Cube: L.A. is still rich man/poor man place. You either have it all, or you’re struggling to get it. It’s a frustrating place if you don’t have it. L.A. is a place of haves and have-nots and not too many in-between.
Channing Tatum: I grew up in the sticks of Alabama, [...] red-clay country. And then in the swamp in Mississippi, and then Tampa. L.A. is sort of a more evolved Tampa, in a way — it’s just a bunch of strip malls. I don’t really think L.A.’s all that pretty. If the industry wasn’t there I don’t know if L.A. would be such a big place.
On having your own action figure...
Channing Tatum starred in G.I. Joe, and as part of that movie’s marketing, has an action figure based on his likeness.
Channing Tatum: It sucks, dude. It’ll be cool later in life when I have grandkids, but you can’t even imagine the dirty stuff that my friends have done. It’s weird how many places that little guy can fit.