21 Jump Street: Rob Riggle

March 2012

[In] this movie you’re playing a teacher, but how were you in high school?

I was a late bloomer, a very late bloomer. Everybody else went through puberty, you know, in eighth grade. And I didn’t go through [it] until like the summer right before my sophomore year, and so everybody was just bigger, and stronger, and faster—and even the girls were bigger. Everybody was just an adult for the most part and I was just this prepubescent kid. So I ran for my life for my entire freshman year. 

So since you did have so many funny people on set, were there any funny mishaps or pranks that you can share with us?

You know we weren’t really like pranksters. There’s no pranks really, but what you do spend your time doing is trying to make each other laugh. And that comes in the form of bits, just making stuff up that isn’t true and trying to make each other laugh. We filmed it down in New Orleans and we’d be sitting outside some old building and, “You know what that building was used for back in the 1800s?” and then you’d make up something horrific. And then you’d play along. It’s just doing bits. They’re called green room bits and you do them and it’s fun. So yeah, we did try to make each other laugh in that sense.

How much improv was there in this movie? Any?

Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. It wasn’t like you just throw the script away, but you find moments within the scene that weren’t scripted. The first time I meet the guys in the movie, Jonah is experiencing something (a reaction to drugs) and he’s got his tongue out and I notice my character—if I was a coach and this kid was just going “luhhhhhh” I would start shoving his tongue back in. So I just start shoving his tongue back in his mouth. And Jonah loved it, he asked for more of that. So we kept doing that. And then a lot of lines, like dialogued exchange, we just came up with stuff in the moment, you know. The end of the movie, there’s a pretty dramatic thing that happens at the end of the movie, and that was not in the script. We just made that up right then and there. Because it made us laugh, and it made the crew laugh at three in the morning, and that’s pretty good. That’s how that ends up in there. You just find things. You just find things.

Did you channel any of your old gym teachers for this character?

I did. I had a lot of football coaches, a lot of, you know, high school coaches, gym teachers, drill instructors…[and] all the alphas I’ve ever met in my life that had certain douchey qualities. [I] smashed them all into Walters.

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