Soon, he will be recognized for his own achievements. But for now, actor-on-the-rise Dave Franco may have to settle with being referred to as the younger brother of James Franco. Dave’s campaign to move out of big brother’s shadow shifts to high gear as he plays the villain in Columbia Pictures’ new action-comedy “21 Jump Street,” a recent No.1 box-office hit in the U.S.
In the film, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) were enemies in high school who became unlikely friends in Police Academy. While they may not be the best cops on the beat, they have a chance to turn it around when they join the police department’s secret Jump Street unit, run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube). They trade in their guns and badges for backpacks and use their youthful appearances to go undercover…in high school!
Trouble is, teenagers today are nothing like what they were just a few years ago, and Schmidt and Jenko discover that everything they think they know about being a teenager, from sex to drugs to rock and roll, is all wrong. Dave Franco plays the pivotal role as Eric, who sets most of the plot in motion. “Eric is dealing a new drug at his high school, which is the reason why Schmidt and Jenko are going undercover – they have to find out the source of this drug so they can eradicate it,” says co-director Christopher Miller.
Casting Dave Franco in the role was a way the film could contrast how high school has changed since Schmidt and Jenko’s first time around. “Dave Franco is essentially the perfect man,” says co-director Phil Lord. “He’s a nice, compact Greek/Roman-sized person – the girls go crazy for him. The cool kids nowadays are not the same from a teen movie from the 1980s – Eric drives Jenko nuts because he’s so cool.”
“We saw a lot of people, but I knew we had to cast Davey, because he’s the one guy I kept trying to impress. I already had the part and I’m trying to impress the guy who’s auditioning, make him think I’m cool,” says co-star Jonah Hill who’s also one of the film’s producers. “That’s exactly what we wanted for the part.”
It was important to all of the filmmakers to make Franco’s character well-rounded. “Everyone should be a hero in their own narrative,” says Lord. “I always thought that the character shouldn’t be an evil thug. The kids I knew in high school who were dealing drugs were kids who were making messed-up choices – they weren’t evil, they were funny or charming or interesting, and had you known them, you’d have good things to say about them. We thought this was a good opportunity to show a grounded, real person who happened to be dealing drugs.”
With that in mind, the filmmakers and Franco focused on the character’s concern for the environment. “You have the cool guy talking about composting and finding ways to conserve water, but at the same time he’s dealing drugs,” says Franco. “I felt it was a new take on the character. It was a lot of fun because I wasn’t playing a straight jerk. He’s full of it, but he’s also charming – you get to see the more vulnerable side to the character.”
Dave Franco recently starred in the DreamWorks horror film “Fright Night,” as well as in the Funny or Die web series, “Acting with James Franco.” The first installment in the series “Sense Memory” is one of the most viewed videos on Funny or Die, attracting over 120,000 views in its first month. Franco also wrote and starred in his own Funny or Die video, “You’re so Hot,” featuring Christopher Mintz-Plasse, which garnered over one million hits. Franco followed up with “Go F— Yourself,” which has reached nearly 800,000 hits to date. Franco also starred with Emma Roberts in the MTV Super Video for Cults’ “Go Outside,” which has been seen my more than 500,000 viewers online. An avid writer, Franco began writing well before he became involved in acting.
Opening across the Philippines in May, “21 Jump Street” will be distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit http://www.columbiapictures.com.ph for trailers, exclusive content and free downloads. Like us at www.Facebook.com/ColumbiaPicturesPH and join our fan contests.