Channing Tatum Returns to Action Comedy in ’22 Jump Street’
But Channing Tatum surprised everyone that he can make people laugh in the 2012 comedy “21 Jump Street” where he showed off remarkable and unexpected comedy chops. Even his co-star, Jonah Hill, and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were amazed.
“I’d never been in a comedy before,” says Tatum. “I learned to trust the process – I mean, Jonah is so good, he can throw out four or five different ways of saying a line, one right after another. I trust him, and Chris and Phil – I’m among friends. If they’re laughing, you know it’s funny.”
Now, Tatum reunites with the gang in Columbia Pictures’ highly anticipated sequel, “22 Jump Street.”
Since working on the first film, Tatum has gained the confidence that he can perform in a comedy alongside Hill. Hill was always a believer in Tatum’s comedy skills, but says Tatum has even raised his game. “We always knew he had the ability to be funny and great in this kind of film, but it was great to see him have the confidence of knowing he wasn’t going to look bad,” says Hill. “He went in there and he killed the scenes even harder.”
In “22 Jump Street,” big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college – after making their way through high school (twice). But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the athletic team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership.
“We got inspired by the idea that Jenko and Schmidt are each other’s ‘hometown honey’ – but they go to college, and the world is opened up to them,” says Lord.
Tatum’s character, Jenko, has found somebody with a few more of his shared interests. When their investigation leads them to look into the football team, Jenko finds a kindred spirit in Zook, the team’s quarterback, played by Wyatt Russell. Before long, the bromance that seemed made in heaven is in trouble. “Zook is kind of Jenko’s man-crush,” says Tatum. “There are jealousy issues immediately – and those issues get in the way of the case that Schmidt and Jenko are supposed to be working. They end up investigating separately.”
In the first film, as the characters went back to high school, their expectations were turned around – the nerdy Schmidt was now in the popular crowd, and Jenko was on the outside. Producer Tania Landau says that as the guys go to college, “we wanted to flip it,” she explains. “Like a lot of people who didn’t fit in when they were in high school, Schmidt expects that everything will be different in college. And Jenko worries that he’s not up to snuff. But their expectations are turned around again.”
Maybe those expectations were misplaced – after all, why wouldn’t a football god like Jenko find a home in college? As it turns out, Tatum has a real history with the sport: before he became an actor, Tatum had a brief college football career. “I had a really good school in the SEC that was ready to give me a full ride – until they saw my transcripts. My coach came up to me and said, ‘They just don’t think you can do the work.’ I ended up going to a small school in West Virginia, played for a year, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I came home and wrapped it up.”
Still, that was long ago, and Tatum isn’t 19 anymore. “I hadn’t played football in 14 years,” he explains. “I’ve got a torn ligament in my right foot that has become a chronic thing. And I rolled my ankle two weeks into the football scenes. Even so, I loved it – it was nostalgic for me to get out there and bang heads again. It was interesting and weird to relive that time in my life, but also fun – if I’d ended up going to that school, there would have been great parts, like my parents would have been able to see me play. But who knows if I would be acting today?”
Opening across the Philippines in June 18, “22 Jump Street” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.
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