The key to great comedy? “You have to try not to be funny,” Channing Tatum says, “because when you do try to be funny, you look like a complete moron.”
This brings him to his summer sequel “22 Jump Street” (now in theaters), where he reteams with friend Jonah Hill as their undercover cop characters graduate from high school to college to infiltrate a dangerous drug ring.
“Jonah is a master of comedy, so I always tell him, ‘I’m so afraid of not being funny.’ He tells me, ‘Just be honest and it will be funny.’ ”
Just because he plays a baby-faced cop doesn’t mean the 34-year-old actor would like to rewind the clock to his post-high school days. “Would I like to re-live my younger days? Hell, no. I don’t want to go back. I love my life right now,” says Tatum, a proud papa of 1-year-old Everly with his wife, actress Jenna Dewan.
He still marvels that Hill called him for “21 Jump Street” (2012), which proved to be one of the biggest hits of his career.
“I remember that call so well. I said, ‘ “21 Jump Street?” The Johnny Depp show?’ Jonah said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do it as a comedy.’ I didn’t know what that would mean, but naturally I said, ‘OK, I’m in.’ ”
He credits his screen chemistry with Hill to a real-life friendship. “We really do go over to each other’s houses and just hang out. The chemistry is real,” he says. “We just have this natural banter between the two of us. He reminds me of the guys I grew up with who are lifelong friends.”
The new film is filled with stunts, including one where he must dangle from a helicopter. “It’s your dream as a young guy to fall from a helicopter in real life, but on a movie set, you don’t get the chance to do everything. I got to hold on to a blade, but my stuntman did the drop. No one wants you to get injured.”
He did get to go to a real frat party to get the feel of one for the movie.
“It was fun, but I’m a husband and dad,” he says. “It did make me smile because I got to have a bit of a college night out.” He adds, “One of my favorite lines in the movie is, ‘I’m the first person in my family to fake going to college.’ Life was imitating art here.”
Most nights, Tatum can be found at home. “A guy has to be good at changing diapers. You have to give the mom some help because the mom is always hands-on as the be-all everything,” he says. “I try my best, and I’m pretty good at it.”
He took his family to the set of “Jupiter Ascending,” filmed by Chicago siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski. “It’s a completely out-of-the-Wachowskis’-brain type of crazy film.”