Last year, Jonah Hill established that he had dramatic acting chops in "Moneyball," as his supporting role in the baseball film earned him an Oscar nomination. This year, the actor's "21 Jump Street" costar Channing Tatum is out to prove the opposite: That he can crack a joke.
Hill, who co-wrote the story that plays off of the '80s television series that launched Johnny Depp's career, said he intentionally sought out Tatum for the movie because the actor didn't have a comedic background.
"I wanted someone in the part who didn't come from doing a lot of comedies so it would feel fresh to people to see someone do something they've never done before," he explained on the red carpet at the film's Tuesday night premiere in Hollywood.
"I got that opportunity last year with 'Moneyball,' and I was so happy with the way it turned out that I wanted to do that for somebody else."
Tatum, who grew up watching the TV show every Friday night with his sister, said the project intrigued him because it was a "complete departure" from the program he knew and loved.
"The show is like a very serious drama, and ours is 'Bad Boys' meets a John Hughes movie," Hill added.
In the movie, the actors are Jenko and Schmidt, two inept cops who are sent by a harsh police captain, played by Ice Cube, on an undercover mission to bust a high school drug ring.
Asked why he believed this is the right time to bring back "21 Jump Street," Ice Cube had this to say: "Jonah's ready to do it, you know what I mean? He's hot. Channing's hot. I'm hot. All the hotness is here."
"21 Jump Street" opens Friday.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Channing Tatum, left, and Jonah Hill at the premiere of "21 Jump Street." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images