Full Q&A with Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill & Ice Cube

You saw the feature article, here’s what really went down on March 1st! You’re looking at an exclusive “article”- no one else but my fellow reporters that day heard this full on interview.

Q: Why did you choose to re-make “21 Jump Street?”

Hill: I’ve never seen it. I was aware of its cultural significance and I didn’t want to re-make a TV show. I thought, I always roll my eyes when people want to re-make a TV show because I think it seems like a corporate cash grab or something. And I really love the idea of getting to re-live the most important part of your youth and thinking you have all the answers and realizing you have none of the answers.

Q: Did you both watch the show when you were younger?

Tatum: He was a little too young…

Hill: I was a little baby drinking my father’s milk…

Tatum: Yeah, he was a little darkness…Yeah, no I watched it. I’m 31, so I watched it. I loved the show. Me and my sister watched it all the time…every Friday.

Q (asked by me!): Obviously in the movie you play undercover cops and you have to act as brothers. I thought that the relationship was believable, you seemed really close. What did you guys do to prep for that? Did they force you to hang out all the time or for designated hours?

Hill: We just got lucky that we liked each other, you know? A lot of times you’re paired up with people- girls or guys- to play best friends or someone to play best friends or your girlfriend or whatever and sometimes it’s just luck of the draw. Sometimes you’re some people who would be best friends in real life and sometimes you’re not. Luckily we just  would’ve been friends in real life whether we were acting with each other or not…

Tatum: We’re still having a good time. This press tour has been like literally one of the most fun things I’ve ever done…We have two more cities and we’ve down two before this.

Hill: This is our third city. And we went to Australia…that was awesome.

Tatum: I’m still recovering.

Hill: My liver hurts.

Tatum: Actually, I got a new one.

Hill: …he stole it from a dead person.

Tatum: Nope, they weren’t dead.

Hill: Almost dead! Now, they’re dead.

Tatum: It’s all good, I got permission.

Q: How did you both prepare for roles? Are you method actors or do you have any special techniques?

Tatum: It really depends on the film…I’ll pick certain things about the character that I do want to go out and experience for myself, but I don’t stay in character…If it’s the right movie, I think it would be right to do that in, but it’s just really exhausting for the people around you if they have to talk to you in character the whole time.

Hill: Depends on the movie, honestly. I usually stay in the spirit of whatever character the movie I’m playing, no necessarily in character. I definitely show up in the vibe of the scene… “Jump Street” was luckily really fun, so we got to have a lot of fun. It’s all scenario dependent.

Q (asked by me): Channing, what made you want to try doing a comedy? At the Q&A screening, you said that this was your first comedy.

A: I had done a little part in “The Dilemma,” and it was fun but it’s scary because you don’t know what’s funny, and you shouldn’t. If you’re sitting there like “watch me be funny” then you’re gonna fail. Jonah really helped me and held my hand the whole way and was like “Look man, don’t try to be funny, just believe it.” …It really worked for me ‘cause I got out of my head about trying to figure out what the joke was. I trusted the writing, trusted the director, the people around me, and Jonah…and just kinda gave over to it.

Me: Yeah, you did a fantastic job.

Tatum: Thank you!

Me: You’re welcome! You really broke your mold as that strong, soft-spoken sensitive guy.

Channing: Thank you very much, I appreciate that.

Q: Did you feel like you have to prove anything as an actor?

Hill: It’s so funny, no matter what you do they always say “do you feel you have to prove X, Y and Z” and I felt like when I got nominated as an Oscar I could maybe shit on not having to prove anything. It’s funny because before that they were like “you’ve only done comedy can you prove you can do drama?” …It’s like no, I don’t worry about proving anyting I just try and make great movies. I want to have a stack of DVD’s I can hand to my grandchildren when I’m an old man and say this is what I spent my life doing.

Tatum: If you set your life out to do anything…

Hill: …You’re gonna fail.

Tatum: If you do things for the wrong reason, you’re not doing it because you love it or the story or the people, you’re doing what you’re doing because you have a goal. That’s fine to have goals, but it’s not fine to have not creative…

Hill: …anything that has a chip on your shoulder is for the wrong reasons. If you do anything for an ugly reason, it’s gonna end up ugly. That’s what I think. If you do things for a beautiful reason it’s gonna end up beautiful. You choose a movie because you think it’s gonna be good not because “ooh I’m gonna show them.” That’s literally like what super villains do…it’s from an ugly place…I did “Money Ball” because I thought it would be great, I did “21 Jump Street” because it’s going to be great.

Q: To your credit, you are both a rapper and an actor. Growing up, what actor, musician or movie inspired you to want to follow that career path?

Cube: “I never knew I was gonna do acting. I really never knew I was gonna do music at all. I was into sports and played football- that’s what I thought I wanted to do. I ended up meeting Dr. Dre when I was young like fourteen, and that’s what inspired me and started to say ‘oh damn this is not just a hobby, it can be a career. You can actually make money at this stuff so that’s when I started looking at groups of the day like LL [Cool J], Run DMC. And when I started acting after ‘Boyz In The Hood’, then I started to say, ‘Who has done acting and music?’ And it’s a few people, but not a lot. So I was just basically saying if Frank Sinatra could do it, I could do it…If Elvis could do it, I could do it. I just kind of started equationing the stars or people that I knew who were in both games.

Q (asked by me): During the movie I couldn’t help but hear an N.W.A. songs playing in the background…did you have any involvement or influence in the music selection process or was it a “happy coincidence”?

Cube: I think they put it in ‘cause I was in. This is Jonah Hill and Channing’s movie. They put it together, I was just along for the ride…like ‘let’s put an N.W.A. song in there and mess with everybody’s senses.’

Q (asked by me): In the film, your agents have to go undercover and pretend to be high school students…what was your high school experience like and if you could do it all over again would you?

Cube: It was cool, no I wouldn’t go back. We was kind of the freaks in high school because we was b-boys. We were with the gazelles and the cangos, and the no shoe strings and the big belt buckles. We was break dancing and rapping and battling and all this stuff.  People was into Prince and Michael Jackson back then and were like ‘Man, what are you doing with all this?’ But then slowly, but surely it seemed like the whole school just started gravitating towards what we were doing, which was cool because at the time they was looking at us funny and pretty soon they was over there with us. My future was way better than my past, after high school was way better than in high school. You know, I don’t want to go back.

Cube: “I always get the question ‘How would the young Cube think of you now?’ And I always think about well, when I was young who was in the position that I’m in and what did I think of them. People like Bill Cosby…they was doin’ it and doing street stuff, mainstream stuff…I would’ve been like, ‘Yo, how did you do it?’ You know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t have been like, ‘Nah man, you’re a sucka, you sold out. You ain’t keepin’ it real, you ain’t keepin’ it street.’ ‘Cause I didn’t even think like that when I was living like that. My thing was ‘How the hell do we get out of here? How the hell do we make it better for ourselves?’…Going from where I went to now, I’m pretty sure some people is like ‘Well, Cube, you sold out.’ But if I sold out, I’m like ‘You bought out’ ‘cause damn everything I was doing is right there so I must’ve been doing it right.”

Cube: “I like comedy because most people say comedies are harder, I think they’re easier. I guess I got that sense of humor and that kind of tone and I look more for what’s funny about things.”

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