21 Wild Details Behind The Making Of 21 Jump Street

The original 21 Jump Street TV show aired from 1987 to 1991. Johnny Depp was the star of the show at the young age of 24, and the series consisted of five seasons worth of crimes solved by an undercover police unit filled with younger looking officers. The show was popular back in the day and like all good things from the ‘80s, it got a reboot. The reboot came out in 2012, which starred Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as two officers who were sent undercover in high school. The film did well enough with fans to warrant a sequel, which came out two years later and was called 22 Jump Street. There was even a 21 Jump Street and Men in Black crossover being planned by Sony before Chris Hemsworth was brought on for the Men in Black reboot.

There are a lot of fascinating details about the making of the first film that some people might not know, especially if they don’t sit down and watch the film with the cast and directors commentary or the Blu-ray bonus features. Here are 21 Details Behind The Making Of 21 Jump Street.

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21 Jonah Hill Was Originally Going To Eliminate Depp's Character

Even though fans were thrilled to see Johnny Depp on the big screen as his famous 21 Jump Street character, they were probably less thrilled to see the character get shot in the throat. Characters Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall might have met their fate at the hands of the dangerous thugs, but Jonah Hill revealed in the featurette, Johnny Depp on Set, that Depp’s character almost met a different fate.

Hill revealed that originally, his character was responsible for Tom Hanson’s fate. He explained that Schmidt originally shot Hanson by accident after he revealed his true identity, but it was ultimately changed for the final cut. 

20 Channing Tatum Is Actually Good With A Firearm

Thanks to work done in post-production, actors now a days don’t necessarily have to be a good shot in order to be an action star. Schmidt and Jenko are shown as being incredibly well-trained with a firearm since they are police officers, but in real life, Tatum is actually really good with a gun.

Brie Larson revealed in the featurette, Brothers in Arms, that Tatum was able to do a lot of flips and tricks with his gun while on set. The featurette even showed Tatum cocking a firearm with just one hand to Phil Lord’s amazement. Larson also joked that, “You don’t want Jonah to have a gun in his hands. 

19 Brie Larson Didn’t Recognize Johnny Depp In Costume

Brie Larson in 21 Jump Street

Many fans didn’t recognize the old biker as Johnny Depp until his final scene of 21 Jump Street. Depp was almost unrecognizable in costume, so much so that Brie Larson didn’t recognize him on set. In the featurette, Johnny Depp on Set, Larson revealed that she just thought an old biker was coming over to say hello, but then she realized the actor was saying “Hi, I’m Johnny.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also revealed in the featurette that Johnny Depp left the set to walk around on Bourbon Street because the actor knew it was the only time he would ever be able to walk around without people noticing him. 

18 The Baby Pictures Of Jonah Hill And Channing Tatum Are Real

Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street

When Schmidt and Jenko go undercover and decide to live with Schmidt’s parents, fans get to see toddler pictures of Schmidt on the wall of his childhood home. In the film’s Blu-ray commentary, Hill explained that the pictures hanging on the wall are actually his baby pictures and his real mom has them hanging up in her house.

He also said that his mom didn’t understand why the joke was funny because she thought he looked gorgeous. Later on in the film, Jenko hangs a childhood picture of himself on the wall before the party, and Tatum revealed that that was also a real picture of him when he was a child. 

17 They Had To Use CGI Doves Even Though They Had Real Ones

Dove Scene in 21 Jump Street

In a film that makes fun of a lot of action movie tropes, 21 Jump Street included a scene with white doves. The scene comes near the end of the film when Schmidt, Jenko, Zack, Delroy, and Roman step out of a limo and walk into the High School prom. Jenko releases a box of Doves just like he had talked about with his friends, but the doves used in the movie were actually added in post-production using CGI.

The filmmakers actually had real doves on set, but they were sleeping since the scene took place at night. In the commentary found on Blu-ray, it’s revealed that they weren’t allowed to wake up the doves and interrupt their sleep patterns, so they were forced to use CGI.

16 Jonah Hill And Channing Tatum Were Actually Gone On Set

In the film’s Blu-ray commentary, stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum joked that they were actually drunk or hungover while filming certain scenes in the movie. When the duo threw the party at Schmidt’s house, Tatum and Hill didn’t have to act like they were gone during the scenes because they actually were.

Hill and Tatum admitted that they were actually drank, especially during the scenes where everyone is running away from the house. Hill even said that during his short scene with Dave Franco in the street, you can see Eric punching Schmidt in the chest because Franco was trying to sober Hill up. It probably wouldn’t have been that hard to act gone, but Tatum and Hill took a method acting approach for the scene. 

15 Jonah Hill Actually Looked Like That In High School 

21 Jump Street Channing Tatum Jonah Hill

One of the funnier scenes in the movie comes at the very beginning when Schmidt and Jenko are seen in High School in 2005. Hill and Tatum obviously look nothing like their characters in the movie, so it was hilarious to see Tatum with long locks and Hill with blonde hair and braces.

As it turns out, Hill actually looked similar to his character when he went to High School. Hill revealed in the film’s Blu-ray commentary that his character’s 2005 look was based on what he actually looked like in High School and that he wanted to look like Eminem. Many people aren’t proud of their High School pictures, but since Hill is a celebrity, some of his High School photos have found their way online. 

14 Johnny Depp Wasn’t Originally In The Movie

When it was announced that Sony was making a 21 Jump Street movie, many people were curious to know if Johnny Depp would be making a cameo in the movie. In a featurette, Johnny Depp on Set, found in the movie’s Blu-ray special features, it was revealed that Depp wasn’t originally in the movie.

Hill and the directors revealed that every time they had an interview about the upcoming movie, people would ask about Johnny Depp. With the public's obvious desire to see the actor back in his 21 Jump Street role, it would have been a mistake to not include him. Producer Tania Landau also revealed that they didn’t even approach Depp until the script was in really good shape, but thankfully he accepted their offer to appear. 

13 It Took Channing Tatum Several Attempts To Jump Over The Car

Channing Tatum as Jenko in 21 Jump Street

One of the bigger action sequences of 21 Jump Street comes towards the middle of the film when Schmidt and Jenko are being chased on the freeway. With Schmidt playing Peter in the school’s rendition of Peter Pan, he was forced to run down the freeway in his Peter Pan costume, which clearly doesn’t look as cool as Jenko running and jumping over cars.

At this point in the movie, Jenko had become an expert at sliding and jumping over vehicles, but behind the scenes, it took Tatum several attempts to master the skill. In the Blu-ray featurette, Peter Pan on the Freeway, it is revealed that Tatum originally had trouble clearing the car and even hurt himself a few times in his attempts. 

12 A Line About Whitney Houston Had To Be Removed

Chris Parnell as Mr. Gordon in 21 Jump Street

During the Blu-ray commentary for 21 Jump Street, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller revealed that the movie originally had a joke about Whitney Houston in the final cut. The joke came when Chris Parnell’s character is holding auditions for the Peter Pan play and he says, “I remember, one time, doing [illegal substances] with Willie Nelson’s horse and we were having so much fun.

The original line was talking about doing illegal substances with Whitney Houston’s niece, but since Houston had recently passed before the film came out, Parnell had to come back to redub the line and say something that matched his lip movements. Also, 200 prints of the film had to be recalled and replaced with the new line about Willie Nelson’s horse. 

11 Depp Would Only Return If Peter DeLuise Did

Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise in 21 Jump Street

Many people appeared in the original 21 Jump Street show, but none became as famous as Johnny Depp. For this reason, many people wanted him to return for the movie, but Depp had some conditions if he were to return to the role. In the featurette, Johnny Depp on Set, it was revealed that Depp was only going to return if the filmmakers also brought back his 21 Jump Street co-star Peter DeLuise.

He also wanted his character to get a definite end in the movie. Thankfully, Sony was already planning to bring back DeLuise as well, and the film successfully finished off the Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall characters. 

10 The Church Wasn't A Regular Chapel

When 21 Jump Street was finally ready to start filming, the location scouts had to find a run down church that they could use as the base of operations for the Jump Street Department. The officers took up base in a foreign Chapel, but in real life, it was actually a Methodist church.

In the Blu-ray commentary, the film’s directors explained that this church was actually under renovation at the time and they asked that the workers stop renovations so that it could appear in a movie.

9 It Was Johnny Depp’s Idea To Constantly Eat Peanut Butter

Johnny Depp Eating Peanut Butter in 21 Jump Street

In the original 21 Jump Street show and in the movie, Johnny Depp wanted his character to constantly eat peanut butter as an ongoing joke. While he didn’t get his wish in the TV show, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were more than willing to let his character eat peanut butter in every scene he was in.

In the featurette, Johnny Depp on Set, the directors talk about this joke and explain that they even gave his character a peanut butter tattoo. Casual moviegoers probably didn’t think anything of it, but big fans of the original 21 Jump Street knew who Depp was playing long before he tore off his fake nose thanks to his peanut butter obsession. 

8 The Composer Was In The Band Devo

Mark Mothersbaugh in Devo

People often don’t give music composers enough credit. Without the score of a film, a movie would never be able to effectively communicate emotions to viewers. For 21 Jump Street, and the sequel 22 Jump Street, Mark Mothersbaugh was chosen to compose the score. Many people might not recognize the name, but fans of electronic rock will recognize the name as being a member of the band Devo.

Since Devo isn’t as active as they used to be, Mothersbaugh moved on to composing for additional films such as Thor: Ragnarok and The Lego Movie. 

7 They Had Masseuses On Set

For many action movies, it is important for the actors to be in good physical condition so that they can effectively pull off action moves. For 21 Jump Street, one of the more physically demanding scenes is when Schmidt and Jenko are running on the freeway. Sony was worried about Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill hurting themselves while performing the scenes, so they hired masseuses to be on set for that part of the movie.

It may seem a bit excessive, but it's unlikely that this is the first time masseuses have been hired for a movie. The featurette, Peter Pan on the Freeway, revealed this behind-the-scenes tidbit and even shows Jonah Hill unknowingly getting a massage by Channing Tatum. 

6 It Was Phil Lord And Christopher Miller’s First Live Action Film

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directing Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo

Many people wouldn’t know it by watching the movie, but 21 Jump Street was Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s first time directing a live-action film. Their first time directing was on the animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but directing a live-action film brings a whole other set of challenges, especially when you are dealing with big movie stars like Johnny Depp, Jonah Hill, and Channing Tatum.

The directing duo also directed the films The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street, and were also the directors on Solo: A Star Wars Story before Disney replaced them with Ron Howard. The pair is also expected to direct the upcoming films Artemis and Carter Beats the Devil. 

5 Channing Tatum Had Great Aim With The Ninja Star

General Zod in 21 Jump Street

The filmmakers behind 21 Jump Street gave the film a twist by having Jonah Hill’s character become the popular one during the partners’ mission in High School. Jenko on the other hand, had a role reversal by becoming a nerd and hanging out with teenagers he wouldn’t normally befriend in High School. In one scene where Schmidt is hanging out with the cool kids, Jenko is hanging out in a basement throwing ninja stars.

The final shot of the scene is a ninja star nailing a photo of General Zod in the head. Since it was a close-up shot, many people guessed that a professional threw the ninja star, but the Blu-ray commentary revealed that Channing Tatum actually threw it, taking him only about three tries to hit Zod. 

4 They Shut Down A Freeway For Filming

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill Being Chased in 21 Jump Street

It isn’t uncommon for a major Hollywood blockbuster to shut down a street or road to film a scene. Other times, filmmakers will just add in a background of a highway in post-production with CGI. That being said, 21 Jump Street actually shut down an actual freeway to film the scene where Schmidt and Jenko are being chased.

This likely cost a good chunk of change and it's kind of surprising that a lot of money was spent on the scene, since 21 Jump Street was nowhere near a guaranteed box office success. 

3 Both Tatum And Hill Loved Filming The Movie’s Ending

Despite certain elements of 21 Jump Street being criticized, the ending of the film was a satisfying conclusion to the action comedy flick. Not only was there another epic car chase full of explosions, but Jenko and Schmidt’s character’s came around full circle, and the bad guys finally paid for their crimes. That being said, Tatum and Hill loved filming the ending of the movie.

The ending of the movie was actually filmed earlier than a lot of scenes, but during the featurette, Brothers in Arms, Tatum and Hill explained that it was fun filming the movie's ending because it involved so many elements of filmmaking that made them want to become actors. 

2 The Film Had Many Cameos

Caroline Aaron and Joe Chrest in 21 Jump Street

Nowadays, it's pretty common for celebrity cameos to show up in big blockbusters. Stan Lee showed up in most of the Marvel movies, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi also had a ton of celebrity cameos. As it turns out, 21 Jump Street had a lot of cameos besides Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, only they weren’t celebrities.

According to the Blu-ray commentary for the film, Caroline Aaron, who played Schmidt’s mom, was actually friend’s with Jonah Hill’s real mother, and the film’s stunt coordinator was also in the Porsche that Jenko and Schmidt “borrow” on the freeway. Channing Tatum’s ex-wife’s cousin, named Julie, also appears in the party scene, and Christopher Miller’s wife fills in as an extra in the crowd during the rendition of Peter Pan. 

1 The Scene With Nick Offerman Was Done The Very First Day Of Filming

Nick Offerman in 21 Jump Street

Most times when it comes to filmmaking, the directors will start production on some of the easier scenes before moving on to more complicated shoots. In the Blu-ray commentary for 21 Jump Street, it was revealed that the scene with Nick Offerman was actually the very first day of filming. While that scene was fairly simple, the big shootout near the end of the film was also filmed during the first week.

This is surprising since it was one of the most important scenes of the film and contained the film’s two biggest celebrity cameos. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord may have started the cast out on some easy scenes, but it sure seemed to escalate quickly. 


Are there any other behind the scenes facts you know about 21 Jump Street? Sound off in the comments!

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