Were either Jonah Hill or Channing Tatum fans of 21 Jump Street before they did the movie?
—Kelly Atwater, Jackson, Miss.
Tatum was; Hill wasn’t. The Cullman, Ala.-born Tatum, 32, recalls watching the series, which starred Johnny Depp, back in high school. “I was a fan of the show. It came on every single Friday right before this other show, Friday the 13th, about haunted antiques.”
Los Angeles native Hill, 28, initially was opposed to the idea of doing a TV show remake. “They originally came to me with a dramatic script based on the TV show and I was really against it. I did not want to make a TV show into a movie. I thought it was lazy, stupid, unoriginal and eye rolling.” What turned him around was the Back to the Future element of the movie, in which it was possible for these cops—Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum)—to relive their high school years. “That is what captivated me,” he says. “What is that like? What is funny about that? What is sad about that? What is difficult about that? What if you think you have all the answers and you go back and you have none of the answers?”
So the Academy Award nominee for Moneyball decided to sign on to the project and, in addition to starring, co-wrote a wildly different script—a comedy. “I have been with this movie for five years,” he says, “Most of my 20s have been spent thinking about this movie in some capacity. It is the only movie I have been with from beginning to end. I am glad the movie is good. Otherwise, it would have been a waste of five years of my life.”