Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

It seems like a minor miracle that 22 Jump Street is as good as it is, seeing as it’s a sequel to a reboot that few people thought sounded like a good idea in the first place. Then again, projects that sound questionable on paper have become kind of a specialty for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. “Yeah, it seems like our career is based on an extended dare,” Miller concedes good-naturedly.

But that doesn’t mean they necessarily want things to stay that way. ”It would be nice at some point to do something that people expects to be good. Although then with high expectations come a lot more pressure.” So what do the pair have coming up next? Hit the jump to read my full interview with the pair and find out.

What made you decide that you wanted to do the sequel for 21 Jump Street?

CM: Well, at first we were pretty skeptical about it to be honest, I think healthily so. But as we thought more about it and worked with the writers, Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel, we figured out that there was something interesting about how hard it was to make a sequel, and then asking ourselves why it’s so hard to make a sequel, and the parallels between that and why it’s so hard to have a sequel in real life, in a relationship, as in like, how do you recreate the magic of the first time. That seemed really interesting to us, to blend those two themes, and that seemed to be a way in and it made us excited and think that there might be a way to do it in a way that wasn’t terrible.

21 Jump Street was a departure from animation. Now that you’ve had a more experience with live-action, how was the process of getting the film together the second time around?

PL: It was less scary, ’cause we had a lot more time behind the camera than we had before, so it was a little more comfortable in that way. But then we were racing — you know, we made this movie very quickly. So we were racing to finish it. So we honestly were not any more prepared while we were making the film. [Laughs] It was a crazy experience trying to get everything ready so fast for this release date.

How much of 22 Jump Street was improv?

CM: Actually, a surprisingly large amount of it was improvised. A lot of jokes came on the set. We had an amazing cast of really gifted improvisers and we filled out the rest of the cast with even a bunch of real ringers like Jillian Bell, who was one of the few people who could improvise so quickly and so funny that just kept Jonah [Hill] on his heels. There was a lot, and a lot of the credit of the humor goes to everybody in the cast for being able to play around and bounce off each other.

I thought she was so funny. She was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Honestly, at some points I wanted her to win, because I was like, she is a badass.

PL: Yeah, well, she plays kind of a psychopath, but yeah. [Laughs]

I know she’s not a good person, but I loved her.

PL: She’s great.

I know it’s early but what are the odds of a 23 Jump Street happening and do you think you’d want to be involved?

PL: You’ll have to ask the studio what the odds are, and hopefully people like the movie enough that that’s warranted. I’m sure we’ll find a way to be involved in some way. But what we really want is a nap.

I have to say, some of the joke posters you put up at the end, I would totally watch those.

CM: Well, there you go. We got already 22 new screenplays. It’s set in motion.

PL: We’re trying to keep that a spoiler, but you don’t know that we didn’t go out and already shoot all of those things. It might just be a teaser trailer for 22 other movies.

With Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie, you’ve developed a reputation as being the directors who’ll ‘I’m not so sure’ ideas into something great. Is there something about these kinds of movies that attract you to them?

CM: Yeah, it seems like our career is based on an extended dare, but really, it’s just that we get inspired by challenges and it’s sometimes a puzzle that’s hard to solve gets our brains going and seems interesting. It would be nice at some point to do something that people expect to be good. Although then with high expectations come a lot more pressure.

So speaking of Lego Movie, now that the first movie was a big fat hit they’re making a couple more. How involved are you with those and how far along are they?

PL: We’re writing the script for the sequel to The Lego Movie this summer.

CM: We’re going to be producing all of them. Our buddy Chris McKay who co-directed The Lego Movie is going to be directing Lego Movie 2. And this guy Charlie Bean, who we’ve long admired in the animation world, we’ve finally gotten a chance to work with him on Ninjago. They’re doing a great job and have got a great story and we’re going to be producing that as well. So we’re going to be pretty involved, I would say. It’s kind of fun.

I know that you’re going back to TV with The Last Man on Earth. How did you come up with that idea? How did the project come to you?

CM: Well we knew we wanted to work with Will Forte, who’s a longtime friend of ours and who we’ve admired since before anyone knew who he was. We got together and batted some ideas around. Will really sparked to that one, and then ran with it and created something really special, really unique and risky. Luckily Fox was willing to take that risk with all of us.

What made you decide to go back to television?

CM: Well we always had a love for TV and there’s a lot of really great stuff happening in television right now. It’s a pretty exciting time. People are trying new things and being risky, and it seemed like it was a good opportunity to tell interesting stories and create characters because you get so much more in depth in television. You have many many hours to get to know these characters. And so we thought, let’s try some fun TV stuff and make sure that we’re doing interesting things that you haven’t seen before on television. We’re plenty busy, so we don’t need to do something just to do something.

Do you have any other TV projects you’re working on besides Last Man on Earth?

CM: Yeah, we have a couple other ones that we’re really excited about, but I don’t know we’re supposed to talk about them yet.

PL: Probably not yet. But some things that will be happening soon, we hope.

CM: On the horizon.

PL: Get excited for unnamed mystery project.

Speaking of TV, I know you guys started out with Clone High, are there any plans to bring that back?

CM: We talk to [Bill] Lawrence about that every six months or so.

PL: We go to dinner and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’

CM: ‘We should do this for sure.’ But it’s very challenging, you know. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome. But we all really want to. But there’s a lot of lawyers and business affairs.

PL: And a lot of different companies.

CM: And angry countries, and so it’s tough waters to navigate, but we’re working on it.

I want to ask you about a few other projects that I’ve heard you’ve been linked to. Are you still doing The Reunion, for Sony?

CM: Yup, that’s still the plan. Just had a meeting about it last week and we’re really excited about it. It still exists and we’re still planning on doing it.

Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s about?

CM: I don’t think I’m supposed to say what the plot is, but it’s a comedy, and a sort of genre-mixing comedy. It’s pretty crazy and fun.

Are you still working on Carter Beats the Devil?

CM: It’s another one that’s sort of in deep development. That one’s been a little tricky to crack, but we’re still working on it.

Have you decided what you’re directing next?

CM: Well, we’re going to be directing some episodes of Last Man on Earth this summer, and after that hopefully we’ll do The Reunion, and we’re still trying to figure out what’s going to come after that.

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