Don’t call Jonah Hill’s ’21 Jump Street’ a remake
“I’m just proud to be up here, dressed as a moron,” Jonah Hill says while sitting on a stage at the Crosby Hotel in New York, in a snug-fitting bike patrol police uniform. “We’re not scared of showing [the movie] and that’s the best feeling. Sometimes you make a movie and it sucks and you don’t want to show it to people. You’re trying to just sneak it by. We’re putting it out there because we’re like, ‘this thing is great.’”
Twenty-eight-year-old Hill is discussing his remake of the 1980s undercover cop show “21 Jump Street,” which, in its 2012 incarnation, is more “‘Bad Boys’ meets John Hughes,” according to Hill. As a producer, writer and star of the film, Hill spent the last five years working on getting his film to the screen. Absolutely none of his ambition to get it done was based on his love of the original show.
“They came to me first with a dramatic script and I was really against it,” Hill explains. “I didn’t want to make a TV show into a movie. As a joke in the movie says, it’s really lazy and stupid and eye-rolling and unoriginal, all of those things. But there’s a ‘Back to the Future’ element that everyone involved with the movie understood and connected with — reliving your high school years, what is funny about that, what is sad about that. That to me is a really strong idea for a movie. So if it was called ’21 Jump Street’ or it was called ‘Narcs’ or it was called ‘Two Cops Go Back to High School,’ I didn’t really give a s–. Honestly, that idea was what captivated me.”
So the cop thing also wasn’t what drew Hill to the idea of playing a policeman forced to investigate a high school drug ring by posing as a student. That much is apparent when Hill discusses handling real firearms on the set.
“I had a problem because there was a guy whose job it was to give you a gun, and it’s a real gun and it’s loaded with blanks. So my thought was, it better not be loaded because I don’t want to die, I don’t any of my actors or anyone on the set to die, and you’re the guy whose job it is to make sure that no one dies,” Hill explains. “That’s a very serious job. So every time he gave me a gun, I pointed it at his genitalia and I pulled the trigger. I was like, ‘You’re never going to hand me a loaded gun because you don’t want to not be able to have kids ever again.’ So the gun was never loaded, was never loaded once.’
The ’80s revisited
Though Hill made it clear that he won’t be remaking more TV shows, he had some ideas for other 1980s projects.
“I’m never remaking anything again. I don’t want that to be something I’m known for,” he says. “But I think if someone was going to remake something from the ’80s, I would hope someone remade ‘Small Wonder.’ It should be like, Todd Solondz or something who remakes it, because it’s so dark. It’s this little girl who lives in a closet and her dad made her.”