Entertainment

06.10.14

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill on ‘22 Jump Street,’ Penis Kissing, and Julie Andrews’s Boobs

In the hilarious 22 Jump Street, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill prove they have what it takes to be Hollywood’s next great ‘bromance.’ They just wish we’d stop using that word.

You guys just will not shut up about Channing Tatum’s penis.

Tatum is one of Hollywood’s more refreshing celebrities in that, when he gives an interview, he tends not to memorize and recite carefully crafted PR speak and instead goofs around and speaks off the cuff and act like—I don’t know—a human. We’re apparently not used to such behavior, though, because when Tatum joked recently about a joke bet he made as a joke (hey, do you think he was joking?) that costar Jonah Hill would have to kiss his penis if 21 Jump Street opened to more than $35 million, everyone would, again, not shut up about it.

Because, as we now know, 21 Jump Street was a raucous, runaway hit, earning $36 million its opening weekend and spawning a hotly anticipated sequel, 22 Jump Street, which hits theaters this weekend. And ever since Tatum first told what was ultimately a funny, silly story, we’ve all not stopped harping on it, hounding the two actors about the bet as if it was ever actually serious.

“Maybe, just maybe,” each successive wide-eyed journalist would think, “I’ll be the one to get the scoop. I’ll be the one Jonah Hill admits to that he kissed Channing Tatum’s penis.” Right.

Give the duo credit, though, for being game and smiling through their teeth during Penisgate when the real story here is even more unbelievable and far more interesting: They’ve pulled off an R-rated comedy sequel that’s as good as the first.

Tatum and Hill reunite in 22 Jump Street as Jenko and Schmidt, hapless cops who go undercover as students to bungle a drug ring. In the first film, based on the cult Johnny Depp TV series, they head back to high school, but in 22 Jump Street, they’re heading to college. The movie, folks, is very, very funny.

22 Jump Street’s cannily self-aware script often mocks the film’s own existence, joking about how sequels never work and how the extra studio money invested in them based on the surprise success of the first film is wasted. By proving it’s in on the joke—indeed, the budget is bigger and scope grander—22 Jump Street is able to instead spotlight what is actually the secret to the both films’ success: the surprising and pitch-perfect comedic chemistry between Tatum and Hill.

The two obviously get along swimmingly (you don’t make joke bets about penis kissing with just anybody), causing people to classify them alongside Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and Seth Rogen and James Franco, in the Hall of Fame of Great Bromances. So in advance of 22 Jump Street’s release, we chatted with them about how they feel about their “bromance,” what they were like in college, and a few other fun things, like Dungeons and Dragons and Julie Andrews’s boobs.

And, OK, we talked about Channing Tatum’s penis, too.

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Channing Tatum poses with an officer from the New York Police Department as he arrives for the premiere of "22 Jump Street" in New York, June 4, 2014 (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

So I can tell that you like each other and are friends. But I’m curious what you think of this word “bromance.” Because, personally, I cringe every time I hear it.

Tatum: Thank god!

And I hear it a lot when people talk about the relationship between you two. I take it you’re not that fond of it either?

Tatum: I think somebody witty thought it up maybe eight years ago, or something, and then everyone who’s not witty uses it over and over again thinking that they’re cool.

Hill: It’s something that I think someone would use ironically as a joke, you know what I mean? They make fun of the fact of using that word. People seem to love to use it. But it seems like to me that it’s just friendship. If girls are friends you wouldn’t use the word “girlmance.” But if two guys are friends you have to label it a funny term for some reason.

The funniest reaction I’ve seen to the word “bromance” is actually from Ice Cube. He was asked what he thought about your “bromance” and he said, “White men love their bromances, man.”

Tatum: [Laughs] That sounds about right.

Hill: Whatever Ice Cube says. [Laughs] The fact that Ice Cube even knows who I am is still awesome to me.

It is an awesome thing to brag about, that you are in the same circle as Ice Cube.

Hill: I was with some friends from high school recently and Ice Cube texted me something about the trailer he had just seen in the movie on TV. My phone buzzed and it said “Ice Cube” on it, and my friends and I were all like, “How crazy is this? Ice Cube saw something and wanted to comment to me on it!” That to me is the most surreal.

Tatum: Like, he makes fun of me in the movie and I think he just carried that over into real life. And I kind of like look at that as some amount of cool. Like anyone else who would make fun of me, I would probably check them. But Ice checking me, I’m like, that’s fine. That’s cool. As long as he acknowledges me on some level I’ll take it. [Laughs]

What do you think has been more annoying to talk about on this press tour? The “bromance” stuff, or the penis-kissing bet?

Tatum: Oh definitely the penis-kissing bet. Because that was on me. I dumbly mentioned it and it was obviously done in a joking manner, but everyone was like, “So, did you collect on the bet?” thinking they’re witty. And thank you for bringing it up the way you’re doing it because I think that you’re very smart. Definitely way more smart than most of the people we’ve been interviewed by about this. But I will definitely be careful from now on. Poor Jonah has been hearing about that bet over and over again.

Well, you both seem to have a good attitude about it. None of your answers to the incessant questions about the bet come off as douchey.

Tatum: Thank you!

Hill: It’s just silly and funny. And it’s a silly, funny movie. So it’s good, I guess, to have silly, funny conversations like that.

So I take it you’re going to keep any bets you make about this movie a secret.

Tatum: I’m happy to double down and make it a real bet, if he wants to try to get out of it based on the opening of this movie. We’ll see.

Channing, I posted on Facebook that I went to a screening of 22 Jump Street, and my 8th grade English teacher commented that she went to the same college in Glenville, West Virginia, that you went to for a short time.

Tatum: Oh yeah! That’s actually their thing! Education. It’s a big school for that. But it’s a verrrrry small school in the Middle of Nowhere, West Virginia. I went for a semester, and I was like, “Alright! I’m going to check the box. I did the college thing.”

What made you leave?

Tatum: I guess my understanding of school now is different than when I was just coming out of high school. I wasn’t, obviously, very good at high school. I hated doing mandatory things. I liked doing the things that I want to do, like most teenagers. I don’t think I got to the cool part of college, like, where you got to really get into what you want to do for the rest of your life. People are like, “What’s your major?” and all of that, and you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life at 19. Like, shit! This is way too much. The thing that you choose to do then is just because you think it’s going to be successful for you or a good money decision. But it was too much pressure. I now wish that I could go to college and not worry about the shitty classes and just take awesome electives or just interesting courses that I don’t get to talk to people about in normal life. I just felt like I had to do really well in courses that I didn’t want to take.

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Jonah Hill arrives for the premiere of "22 Jump Street" in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

So this movie is a bit of art imitating life for you?

Tatum: There’s literally a line in the movie that “I’m the first person in my family to fake go to college,” and that’s sort of true. My sister went to college all the way until she had like one or two more credits to take, and then she was just like, “Eff this.” I know my mom didn’t. I think my dad went to college and played sports, but left.

I sense a trend.

Tatum: [Laughs] Go Tatums! Smart people.

Jonah, what was college like for you?

Hill: I had two wildly different experiences even though they were both very brief. I did one semester at Boulder, which was more a stereotypical, American collegiate experience. You know: big campus, football team, frat, all that stuff. Then I went to New School in New York, which is a really small liberal arts school. It was really creative and in New York, a major metropolitan city. So I go to have both the art school experience and the American typical collegiate experience. But ultimately I was done very quickly after a year, because I wanted to start making things.

Which experience suited you more?

Hill: I wouldn’t trade the Boulder experience, because I got to see what that was like. But I definitely fit better at art school.

It’s interesting that you got to do both. Because I went to NYU and got to have that fun city college experience, but still had the grass-is-greener complex, where I thought I was missing out on the frat parties and the tailgates and the typical college experience.

Hill: Yeah. And then getting to do that is interesting, even though I realized it wasn’t for me. But it was good to get to actually do that. You know? But even at Boulder I found the artsy kids and hung out with them. [Tatum laughs] Like I found the three other artsy goth kids at Boulder and hung out with them.

Do you think if you two had been in college together you would have been friends? Or do you think you would’ve fallen out a little bit like your characters do in the movie?

Tatum: I actually have a buddy who’s named Schmidt who reminds me very much of Jonah. He’s, I think, exactly the kind of person I’d end up hanging out with.

Hill: I always had friends from all different groups. I always connected with people based on what they’re like to hang out with one on one.

Tatum: I literally played Dungeons and Dragons in high school with kids that you would probably think that, in movies, I would not ever hang out with. And I thought we were the coolest kids. We knew everything about the coolest video games. And we just hung out! I always thought movies sucked at actually portraying high school in a really honest way. There are those clichés, and they’re clichés for a reason, but it’s not like the movies everywhere.

I think a whole nation of Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts is now going to use that as their calling card for it being cool to play, that you played it, too.

Tatum: [Laughs] I’m not good at it, mind you!

Hill: I never played it. When we were elementary school, though, we had Magic the Gathering. That was fun. I played that in fifth grade.

You guys sound so nerdy right now!

Tatum: Thanks…

In the best way possible. I swear!

Tatum: No, I’m just kidding. Though if I see you I’m going to hold your head in the toilet or something just to make myself feel less nerdy. [Laughs]

Then I will tell everyone that I had my head put in the toilet by Channing Tatum and I will be as cool as those Dungeons and Dragons guys.

Tatum: [Laughs] Well, you know in that first movie we put each other’s heads in the toilet. So we’ll just finger each other’s mouths and it will be great…

One of the cooler parts of this movie was when Schmidt and Jenko go to Spring Break. Have either of you ever been to Spring Break before? Because I’ve never had the classic Spring Break, so my impression is that it’s just girls in bikinis and guys getting wasted everywhere like the movies show it to be, but maybe you guys have a better sense of what it’s really like.

Hill: I can only speak for myself, but I think we were both excited to go for our first Spring Break. When we got there we were like, “Yes! This is going to be just like us living Spring Break!” But, like in the movie, we just realized we were the old guys at Spring Break. It wasn’t like we were in college at Spring Break. Everyone was 18 and we were in our 30s, you know?

Tatum: I had a kid and my wife there. [Hill cackles] Everybody’s running around Puerto Rico looking greased up and right off the runway, and we’re like, “What?”

Hill: I’m like, “Hey, kid! Is there a specialty coffee shop around here?” [Both guys crack up] “Is there an Intellegentsia Coffee in Puerto Rico?” I’m in Puerto Rico and I can’t get a good coffee before 9.

So, Jonah, you’ve been nominated twice now for the Oscars. Both times you’ve been nominated the same guy won every single award beforehand [Christopher Plummer in 2012 for Beginners and Jared Leto this year for Dallas Buyers Club] so you knew you had no chance of winning. Does that…suck?

Hill: [Laughs] It doesn’t suck! To me, genuinely, being nominated—there’s no way to say anything without it sounding cheesy—for an Oscar is incredible. Both times it was super incredible. I totally understand what you’re asking, because at every award show I lost to the person who ended up winning the Oscar. So you know you’re going to lose, deep down, at the Oscars. I brought my mom with me both times. My mom is so funny. She knows Chan well and thought he was stepping on her dress this year at the red carpet, so she shoved him out of the way and was like, “Get off my dress, you idiot!” And it was Bradley Cooper, not Channing Tatum.

That is a brilliant story.

Hill: So I’m standing on the red carpet with my mom and, both times, right before I get out of the car I’m like, “Mom. I think I could win an Oscar tonight.” And she goes, “Ahhh…no. You’re not going to win.” [Tatum starts howling] Both times there’s this moment right before, even though you know that you lost every other thing and there’s no way, there’s some part of you that goes, “Oh my god, I’m pulling up to the Oscars and I could win!” So thank god for people like your mother who can bring you back down to planet Earth.

But you have been nominated for an Oscar twice. That’s a huge deal. And, Channing, you’re getting a lot of awards buzz for Foxcatcher right now. There seems to be a shift in the industry where’s there a more open-minded perspective, so that people who started their careers with Grandma’s Boy and Step Up are taken seriously when they do good work. Have you noticed any sort of shift like that?

Tatum: That’s really interesting that you said that, because I think we are in a changing era. There’s a different era coming in. I don’t really believe that there are going to be more Brad Pitts and Leonardo DiCaprios, at least for a little while. The movies have changed and the people watching movies have changed. It’s a little bit like the Wild West. Great directors are finding gems now anywhere and everywhere, not just hiring the biggest stars in the world anymore. I think it’s nice! You’re looking at it and seeing it, and we are as well. The more we can just worry about great performance and great storytelling, the better movies can get made.

So, apropos of nothing, I need to ask you about one last thing. Of all the press you guys have done for this movie, by far the most entertaining thing I’ve seen was your interview with Julie Andrews on The Graham Norton Show where she starts chatting with you guys about nudity. How surreal was that?

Tatum: [Laughs] I’ll tell you how surreal it was for me. I had a migraine that day. I was so sick I couldn’t even really move. It was the most out-of-body experience because I was so jacked up on medicine. I physically felt like I was in a fishbowl, and I was sitting on the couch with one of my best friends and Julie Fucking Andrews. And then Pharrell ended up showing up, and I was like, “There’s no way this is happening right now!”

Hill: That’s why Graham Norton is such a cool show. Last time I was on, it was myself, Carey Mulligan, DeNiro, and Sylvester Stallone. And this time it was me and Chan and Pharrell and Julie Andrews. Everyone having to interact with one another from different universes, that’s what makes it a fun show. I think he’s awesome. But then Chan was sick. We have a good thing going where if one of us is sick the other one will take the lead. And then Julie Andrews was so funny and awesome that she took the lead. She is a legend for a reason. She is sparkly, man.

Tatum: I’ve never seen anybody that shines as bright as she does. I can’t even imagine—imagine meeting her back in the day when she was doing Mary Poppins, what she was like.

Hill: Yeah! And she was married to Blake Edwards! Like, I didn’t even know that. I found that out on the show.

So when it was over, did you guys go home and Google those nude scenes?

Hill: I did not! I want to watch the film, though, because she did say it was a good film, S.O.B. I’ve never seen it.

Tatum: I feel like I shouldn’t, but she feels pretty proud of the nudity she said!

Hill: True. She’s proud of the nudity and it’s a great film, so you can’t feel guilty about it!

Well, on the note of Julie Andrews’s boobs, that’s all for me.

Tatum: Thanks, man. This was a great interview.

Hill: You really were great. This is like the best interview we’ve done all day.

Tatum: No joke. We get the same shit every 10 seconds, so this was really great.

Now everyone knows the secret: Mary Poppins’s boobs.