Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, stars of the 2012 comedy hit “21 Jump Street,” reprise their roles as a pair of mismatched undercover cops in “22 Jump Street.”
Production for the sequel, which opens Friday, brought the actors back to New Orleans, where “21 Jump Street” was shot.
In the sequel, Hill and Tatum’s characters, Schmidt and Jenko, and their angrier-than-ever boss, Capt. Dickson, played by Ice Cube, move their headquarters from the former Korean church they occupied at 21 Jump St. to the larger, plusher former Vietnamese church at 22 Jump St.
In another change, Schmidt and Jenko are promoted from undercover work at a high school to an investigation at a college.
Just before “22 Jump Street” completed production in New Orleans and jumped to Puerto Rico, a group of mostly foreign reporters — from the U.K., Spain, Italy, Russia, Germany, Mexico and Brazil — gathered for a set visit with Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “This Is the End”), Tatum (“White House Down,” “Magic Mike”) and Ice Cube at the abandoned 9th Ward church that the production transformed into 22 Jump St.
Reassembling both the actors and behind-the-scenes team that made “21 Jump Street” allowed for a kind of shorthand during the making of “22 Jump Street,” Tatum said.
“It’s the first time I’ve not had to do any character development,” he said. “We fall right back into step with each other.”
“The first time, you’re finding your feet,” Ice Cube said of his character. “The second time, you’ve zeroed in on who this guy is, and it’s all about upping the ante.”
Knowing the characters helped Tatum, who’s less experienced with improvisation than his “22 Jump Street” co-stars, roll with the lines Hill and Ice Cube threw at him. “I’ll do what’s written, and then we’ll play around,” he said.
Tatum has come to trust Hill, his principal co-star in the “Jump Street” movies, unconditionally. “Jonah is one of the most talented and smart and thoughtful people I’ve ever worked with,” he said.
“Channing is beyond talented,” Hill chimed in. “Outside of all of this, I really value him as a friend.”
Tatum, an actor known for action movies and love stories prior to “21 Jump Street,” said comedy films give him an obvious payoff that dramas don’t.
“If people like the movie, they laugh,” he said. “Because dramas are so subjective, I’d never had an experience like that before.”
“22 Jump Street” contains more action than “21 Jump Street.” That’s fine with Tatum. A martial artist and former college football player, he loves doing his own stunts.
“I got to ride on top of a semi going about 60 mph,” he said. “I got my ‘The Matrix 2’ moments.”
Hill credited the athletic Tatum with motivating him to train for his action scenes in “22 Jump Street.” On the other hand, there were plenty of temptations beyond the set.
“New Orleans gets the best of you sometimes, as far as making you lazier,” he said.
Ice Cube, whose role as Capt. Dickson is expanded in the new film, said he managed to mostly keep from laughing during scenes with funny guy Hill.
“From working with Chris Tucker to Mike Epps to Bernie Mac, I’ve gained a nice little tough skin,” he said. “But Jonah has broken me up a couple of times on this movie. I’m not proud of that, but it happened. He comes up with some stuff.”