Channing Tatum on '21 Jump Street,' no football

Fri, Mar 16

Imagine if actor Channing Tatum had enjoyed playing football in college.

Who knows what would have happened.

"I just got tired of playing. I was only playing to keep that scholarship. I was interested in other things and missing home," said Tatum, who attended Glenville State College in West Virginia on a scholarship before dropping out. "It just seems that I have won the lottery now."

Tatum, coming off a starring role a month ago with the $158 million blockbuster "The Vow," is back this weekend in "21 Jump Street."

Tatum, 31, was born in Alabama and moved to Mississippi and then Florida for high school. He was voted most athletic at Tampa Catholic High School, playing football and track, among other sports. He didn't know what he wanted to do but received a scholarship to play football in West Virginia so he went.

That didn't turn out to be a great experience. So he moved back to Florida and had some odd jobs -- including stripping -- before being discovered as a model. That led to acting roles and now he's hit the big time.

"You can't get luckier than me," Tatum said.

Starting Friday, he and Jonah Hill are hoping to strike gold with the reboot of the 1980s television show about police officers heading back to high school to break up a drug ring. Ice Cube has a major role, and Hill wrote, produced and is acting in the movie.

"Jonah isn't just a comedic actor. He's the white Puff Daddy of entertainment," said Tatum, who also is an executive producer on the film. "He's so creative on so many different levels. He took care of me. He is so smart."

Hill said he sought out someone of Tatum's size -- about 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds -- and looks to team up for the movie.

"Channing is a guy's guy. We needed someone with action credibility," Hill said. "I'm just so happy how it turned out. We wanted it to be 'Bad Boys Meet John Hughes.'"