Channing Tatum Back on the Force in ’22 Jump Street’
Channing Tatum puts on his thnking cap as an undercover college cop in "22 Jump Street." ©Columbia Pictures. CR: Glen Wilson.

Channing Tatum puts on his thnking cap as an undercover college cop in “22 Jump Street.” ©Columbia Pictures. CR: Glen Wilson.

Front Row Features

NEW YORK—New dad Channing Tatum will be celebrating Father’s Day privately this Sunday with his wife, actress Jenna Dewan, and 13-month-old daughter, Everly, but another baby—one he’s willing to share with the world—is due Friday: the sequel to his hit buddy comedy “21 Jump Street.”

Cleverly titled “22 Jump Street” (it’s across the street from the old station), the action in the sequel picks up with Tatum’s undercover cop Greg Jenko and Hill’s Morton Schmidt back on the narcotics beat as undercover college students trying to track down an elusive illegal drug supplier.

Tatum, 34, says it was fun joining forces again with his co-star Hill. Having previously worked together on the 2012 comedy, they had an easy time getting back into their mismatched characters.

The Alabama-born actor reports that he is busy co-writing the sequel to “Magic Mike,” in which he will reprise his male stripper character, and he also is slated to join the “X-Men” franchise as Gambit in the announced “X-Men: Apocalypse,” due out in 2016.

Meantime, on this Thursday afternoon in the Big Apple, the hunky actor is pleased to be talking about his newest comedy, which promises more laughs, more action and more heart.

Q: Did you sense that the sequel was going to match, if not surpass, the original?

Tatum: We ended the first movie with these guys going to college. We wanted to do another one just because we had fun with the first one. The movie’s not out yet, so I don’t want to jinx it. I’m a little superstitious that way.

Q: When did you actually realize you and Jonah have good chemistry onscreen?

Tatum: We kind of knew from the first movie because we got along really quickly. I don’t really know how to explain it. It wasn’t like a gestation period or anything. He just seemed like a lot of the kids that I grew up with. I have a friend named Schmidt that’s one of my favorite crazy funny friends from Florida, and (he and Jonah) have similar personalities.

Q: Can you out-improvise Jonah?

Tatum: No, absolutely not! I’ve only seen one person, and she’s in the movie, be able to make Jonah take a little step back. I think he realized he was in a fight. That was Jillian Bell. She brings the pain. I was so excited when she came onboard. I don’t have many scenes with herm but I was so excited, even though I knew I’d take some hits along the way. It was one of those things, like being in the ring with Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and just being like, “Ah! What’s going to happen?” (She and Jonah) would just battle it out, and it was awesome.

Q: You did a lot of your own stunts in this. How do you prepare yourself?

Tatum: I just got off three back-to-back movies that were, by far, the most physical movies I have done to date. With this movie, there was no preparing. I played football for like 10 years of my life, so I wasn’t really worried about that. I was just worried about keeping my body together. I’d been banged up throughout those other films. I like doing that stuff, though. We used to do that stuff growing up, like in a really unsafe manner, and now I get to do it with some of the best safety guys and stunt guys in the world— so it’s just fun for me.

Q: Was there one stunt that was more challenging than the others?

Tatum: I had two bum wheels on this, so it was pretty disappointing to do the football. I had a rolled ankle that was taped up because I had torn ligament in my right foot. You always think, “Man, I get to play football again, and I can’t do as well as I want to,” but it worked out.

Q: How was it shooting the football scene?

Tatum: Jonah let me head-butt him really hard one time. I hit him one time and he was like, “Alright, just do it!” We got into a three-point stance and he took it.

Q: You got to work close with Ice Cube this time around. What are the misconceptions about him?

Tatum: What do people say about Cube?

Q: That’s he’s intimidating. He’s scary.

Tatum: Oh, that’s all true. (He laughs). Yeah, I was pretty intimidated. I wasn’t scared— because I don’t think he really wants you to— but it’s just him. He’s got a persona. It was really fun to get to watch Jonah around him because Cube is like his childhood hero and it was really fun to kind of watch them interact. I’d just sit back and watch.

Q: Was your college experience anything like your character’s experience in this?

Tatum: I wish I could say I went to college. I barely went a semester, so, (the similarities were) very little, and it wasn’t anything like this. (He laughs.)

Q: What factors do you consider when choosing a role? Did you do the first “Jump Street” because you wanted to do a comedy?

Tatum: Yeah. I did the first one really because I wanted to work with Jonah and I wanted to try to sort of tiptoe out into the comedy world and be working with a very capable net underneath me. That was probably the first reason. You just try to challenge yourself with every single part and try not to do something derivative. If it’s going to be another action movie or another love story, I try to let it be a wildly different character than the last one. So, it’s really about just keep trying to challenge myself to be better and to do different things.

Q: Is that why you wanted to play Gambit?

Tatum: I chose Gambit because it was my childhood. It’s the only real X-Men that I followed. I’m not a big X-Men head, but my dad is from Louisiana and I grew up 45 miles east of New Orleans. Gambit’s just the coolest one to me. He’s the smoking, drinking, woman-chasing, cussing guy. He’s not even a good guy; he’s a thief. So we’re going to, hopefully, try and change up the format of superhero movies and try to give it a different look. Who knows if that will be something that people will like, but we’re going to try and change it up. Hopefully, it works out—the deals and stuff. That machine is huge, just gi-normous. For everything to align will be crazy, but I’m hoping that it works out because I’ve been pretty vocal about wanting to do it for a while.

Q: You can do your own stunts. You do comedy. You do drama. But how are your diaper-changing skills?

Tatum: I’m solid at diaper changing! If a guy isn’t good at changing a diaper, I don’t know what he’s there for really, because they’re not there for the first seven months for any other reason than to do that because mom’s the end-all, be-all of everything. (He laughs.)

Q: How quickly can you do it?

Tatum: (Everly) does not like sitting still, so I have to do it when she’s crawling, standing up, doing the whole thing, but I’m pretty solid at it.

Q: No mishaps?

Tatum: There are always mishaps. The whole day is just a big ol’ mishap. I find it really fun. It’s always a different thing every day. Watching her experience things for the first time. She just saw a kite for the first time the other day and she was like, “What? What is it?” It was crazy.

Q: What is next for you, work-wise?

Tatum: We’re writing “Magic Mike 2” to shoot at the end of this year, if we ever finish writing it. Then (we hope to make the biopic) Evel Knievel sometime after that. After that, that’s it. I’m just going to spend some time with the family. My creative partner Reid (Carolin) and I want to start our very slow climb up the mountain of learning directing. That’s really it. I want to slow down. I really don’t want miss my child’s first 10 years of life.