Channing and Jonah go back to school

Apr 19, 2012, 08:35 IST | Janhavi Samant

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill talks about playing pranks with each other, being friends and the anxiety of working with Johnny Depp in their latest film '21 Jumpstreet'

Growing up is never easy –– at least the first time around. The fun begins when you get a second chance to return to school, woo the chicks and go to prom.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill

Well, this pair is all done with all that high school business. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill don’t ever want to go back. At an event to promote their upcoming film 21 Jumpstreet, the duo talks about school, learning and friendship.

How was your high school experience like?
Channing: It wasn’t fun the first time around. I don’t think I was very happy in high school at all. I suppose I had my moments, I was an athlete but it was difficult learning stuff and all that competition, I guess. Maybe I would be happier there now.
Jonah: It was awesome but you are forever trying to be cool. It is the most important part of your life. I suppose Internet has made it easier for youngsters to be cooler and changed a lot of the dynamics about growing up. I can just imagine all the things we could get to if we had Internet in our time. Like, when I was writing the film, I kept discussing the plot with my teen sister and she would like, ‘We would never do that in school. It does not happen’.

You guys have great chemistry, off-screen and onscreen. You guys also look like you are friends. Was it difficult getting along at first?
Jonah: The only thing that was difficult was to convince Channing to do the role. For some reason, he didn’t think he could be that funny. Once he was convinced, it was great. I always liked his work but we don’t always like the people whose work we like. But we are friends now; we hang around and party.
Channing: Yeah. I had my doubts. I wanted to be really funny and honest and alive. I didn’t doubt the part though. Even as I worked on it, I was unable to see why certain lines were funny. But when I worked at them with Jonah, they did turn out to be wild. I read and studied a lot of comedic actors. Of course, things like sitting on his head and jumping on him did help our chemistry (laughs aloud).

Really? Did you pull any pranks on him?
Channing: Sure. After a difficult running sequence, Jonah (in his green Peter Pan costume) was getting his back massaged on the highway. And slowly I sneaked on him and replaced my hands with the masseur’s and believe me, he let me go a long, long way before he realised that it was me.
Jonah: He did that. But we also did actually do some of the things teenagers did. Like jump on a running car and stuff like that. That was cool.

Jonah, after so many comedic roles, you were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Moneyball. Channing, after so many action roles, everyone has appreciated you for The Vow. How does this sort of action comedy work for you now?
Jonah: It’s good. Your heart is constantly doing different things. I like that I am pushing myself so much and want to make so much more than I am.
Channing: It feels great. And next I will be playing a male stripper. I suppose that is pretty wild.

Johnny Depp was in the original TV series? How did you guys manage to convince the guy to do a cameo?
Jonah: From the very beginning, I had written a cameo for him in the script. Then we saw him at a party and decided to approach him. There was me, Phil (Lord, co-director), Chris (Miller, co-director) and Channing. We went on and asked him and he was like, ‘Yeah, it’s a great idea. But make sure I get to die in the film.’ We said, ‘Yeah sure.’ And I went right back and wrote a scene about him dying. Then we got Peter Deluise, his partner from the original, too. But let me tell you, that when it was time to meet Depp, my friend Channing just disappeared.
Channing: Of course. He was Johnny freaking Depp! That was freaky. Because he was in disguise, most days I managed to forget that while shooting. He was cool to work with and kept bull*******g with us. I mean it sounded like him and even that made me nervous. But when he took off his disguise, I was like, ‘OMG. That is Johnny Depp. I am working with him.’ But it was great that that happened, that both of them were able to show up and do this together.  

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