Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson Talk ‘Let’s Be Cops’


The Atlanta-filmed Let’s Be Cops could be one of the most unconventional buddy cop movies to debut this year and the film’s stars, Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson, sat down to let us know how they feel about it.

Let’s Be Cops tells the story of two struggling pals dress who as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line.

Damon and Jake shared about their experiences filming in Atlanta, as well as thoughts and hopes for them film. You can read the entire interview below!

You guys shot the movie in Atlanta. How did you feel about our city?

Damon Wayans Jr: I loved it. It’s very hot, very moist in the summer. When we were playing cops in these outfits it was a little sweaty, there were some rashes where there shouldn’t be. Yeah. It was great food.

Did you all go to any local bars or anything like that? What was your experience like?

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah. Went to a couple.

Jake Johnson: We went to Clermont a bunch. It was crazy. Went to- we stayed at the Renaissance in Midtown. A lot of the bars we went to we just went in walking distance. We didn’t have cars. It was a fun city.

Do you guys think you would make good cops?

Damon Wayans Jr: I wouldn’t.

Which one of you would make the better cop?

Jake Johnson: Maybe me? Nah but I would lose it.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah.

Jake Johnson: I would turn into a stereotypical renegade cop. I would start off where I believed in the system and then slowly the bullshit of it all would get to me. Then I would start making my own rules, but I would need a partner. Preferably an African American guy.

Damon Wayans Jr: An African American one?

Jake Johnson: Who’s getting a little bit sick of this shit and all he wants is to retire. I just want to wear my leather jacket and play shoot em ups with bad guys.

Damon Wayans Jr: Is that Lethal Weapon?

Jake Johnson: Is it? I know we would have a lethal combination.

Damon Wayans Jr: Oh come on man. Don’t say that.

Both of you have been in several comedies. How do you recreate each character so it’s fresh and it doesn’t get stale?

Damon Wayans Jr: That’s interesting.

Jake Johnson: I think that’s a lot on the writing. They’ll give you characters and ideally put you in situations that are new and fun. I think projects that actors say no to, or that I try to say no to, is when I see it and all I see are bits that I’ve already kind of done, and things that I don’t know how to put an interesting take to it. You hopefully get there and it’s built in different. You’re just trying to play the reality of the scene. In doing so, it puts you in a different spot.

Damon Wayans Jr: That’s a pretty good answer.

What was your favorite story from set? I have to imagine it was just like pranks and like fun shit all the time.

Jake Johnson: It was. What was the most- Nina’s crazy.

Damon Wayans Jr: Nina’s hilarious.

Jake Johnson: She’s a wild woman.

Damon Wayans Jr: She would always like … She would be off some days and then she would come back. She’d be like, “Hey. Check out these pictures.” It was like her jumping out of an airplane. It was so crazy. She was like the most intense human being.

Jake Johnson: Anything with Riggle’s fun.

Damon Wayans Jr: Riggles.

Jake Johnson: We went to a bunch of bars with Riggle and Michael.

He seems like he’d be fun.

Jake Johnson: He is fun.

Damon Wayans Jr:He’s so funny. One of the funniest people-

Jake Johnson: You’ll ever meet.

Damon Wayans Jr: Of all time.

Jake Johnson: Went to a Cuban restaurant with Andy Garcia and the entire staff came out to get a photo with him.

Damon Wayans Jr: He eats and smokes his cigar.

Jake Johnson: Nonstop.

How much of the movie was improv? Was any of it just you guys going off of each other?

Damon Wayans Jr: Every scene that we did we made sure to improvise a little bit. The writer of the movie really encouraged that.

Jake Johnson: We improvised a lot.

Damon Wayans Jr: We improvised a whole lot
Jake Johnson: A lot of the actual scenes in the movie are scenes that we came up with with the writer the night before shooting. We’d do a bunch of rewrites and then improvise and figure things out so a lot of it was. We stuck really to the story of it. We didn’t improvise any of the story. That was all in there. What we say in each scene was a lot … improvised.

I bet it’s refreshing being able to improv on set.

Jake Johnson: It’s great.

Damon Wayans Jr: Loved it.

Working with one of your friends

Damon Wayans Jr: Yes. Absolutely.

Jake Johnson: It depends on the project. On a project like this you sign up for it because they tell you, “We want you to improvise and have fun and be loose.” You kind of know when you’re going to go to Atlanta to goof around a bunch.

How much of the stunts were you guys?

Jake Johnson: Not a lot.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah.

Jake Johnson: We do the beginning and the end of stunts. Damon, when he jumps off three stories, he jumps a story down. Which is still scary, but then another dude comes in and jumps three stories and lands on a concrete floor.

Damon Wayans Jr: Well, Jake over here, he has really soft bones-

Jake Johnson: Not true. Not true.

Damon Wayans Jr: He doesn’t- he’s a super tender hunk. He needs kind of like-

Jake Johnson: Padding.

Damon Wayans Jr: Padding all the time.

Jake Johnson: All the time.

Damon Wayans Jr: All the time. It’s like just to reach for this, stunt double.

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah. Just- stunt double. Bring in a stunt double to pick this up because his tender-

Jake Johnson: it could break my arm.

Damon Wayans Jr: wrist might break.

Jake Johnson: It could break my arm.

Tender bones?

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

Damon Wayans Jr: Lot of inbreeding.

Jake Johnson: Not a lot, but enough.

Damon Wayans Jr: Enough. Enough to make them tender.

Jake Johnson: Ow. Don’t you dick. You know about my arm.

When you all watch yourself on the big screen, what’s your biggest critique of yourself?

Jake Johnson: Just not a very good actor. Just not quite good enough. No. I don’t know. I try not to get too into it.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah. I don’t really-

Jake Johnson: Just it makes it less fun.

Damon Wayans Jr: I’m just like, hey it’s there.

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

Damon Wayans Jr: I already shot it. It’s already done. Don’t need to beat myself up about it. Sometimes I’m like, oh they chose that take?

Jake Johnson: You always see something you wish you could do something differently, but you can’t. I think it happens more at first, when you first start acting. You watch it, you’re like, “Why would I have ever done that?” It’s over, you can’t get mad about it, you got to … Mostly when you see it, it’s a year after you shot it so you’ve already done other stuff. You’re like- it’s like visiting with an old girlfriend. You can think of what happened that was bad but you’re like …

Damon Wayans Jr: It’s good to see you.

Jake Johnson: Yeah. That shit’s over.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah. Thank God.

Jake Johnson: We were both wrong.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah. Can I have my Jordan’s back please?

That’s the spirit.

Damon Wayans Jr: Yeah.

Okay. This is a question for you. This movie is kind of like a bromance.

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

It’s like a little bro love story.

Damon Wayans Jr: I like that.

Do you think that you have better chemistry with this guy or with Zooey Deschanel on New Girls?

Damon Wayans Jr: Ooooh.

Jake Johnson: I guess that you could say is in the movies, Damon Wayans Junior is my Jess. Ooooh.

Damon Wayans Jr: Don’t say that.

Jake Johnson: Please say that. You punk dude.

Damon Wayans Jr: Don’t call me Jess. I’m not your Jess.

Jake Johnson: I will say they both look super cute with bangs and he looks so good in little polka dot dresses.

Damon Wayans Jr: Who’s that boy?

Jake Johnson: If there’s one man- one way to describe Damon Wayans Junior, Daddy Face, is adorkable.

Damon Wayans Jr: Don’t call me that.

Jake Johnson: He’s the most adorkable-

Damon Wayans Jr: You can call me adorkable, don’t call me Daddy-

Jake Johnson: Daddy Face is adorkable.

Damon Wayans Jr: I don’t like that.

Jake Johnson: I think they’re different chemistries but I enjoy them both. Now we got him over at New Girl so it’s a- Chemistry explosion.

When you guys were initially approached about this project, did you know that they were talking both of you or how did you both get involved in this?

Jake Johnson: We got the script and then I had heard his name so I just called him up. Basically we kind of both said, I’ll do the movie if you do the movie. At that point, I didn’t care which character was- I think there was a version where he was going to be Ryan and I was going to be Justin. We just basically said, as long as we’re doing it together we’ll make it work. As the pieces fell, I went to Ryan and he went to Justin.

Was there anybody else you were especially excited to work with other than each other?

Damon Wayans Jr: In the movie?

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

Damon Wayans Jr: Riggle. For sure.

Jake Johnson: Riggle for sure.

Damon Wayans Jr: Nina.

Jake Johnson: Garcia.

Damon Wayans Jr: I didn’t find out Garcia was in the movie until we were shooting already. When I found that out I was like, this is awesome.

Jake Johnson: Yeah.

Damon Wayans Jr: Then I found out I didn’t have any scenes with him and I was like, fuck.

Jake Johnson: Riggle is somebody that Damon and I both really love. We both worked with him before. We were really pushing for him to get this part because it’s Rob Riggle, which you’re used to seeing him just do straight comedies. He’s a bad ass in the movie. Something that people don’t talk about with Riggle is he served our country.

He’s a Marine.

All females – l: He’s a Marine.

Jake Johnson: He’s a Marine. He’s been to war.

Damon Wayans Jr: 20 years.

Jake Johnson: We all know that about Rob but it was really nice to have people see him do action because he can.

Damon Wayans Jr: Because he has.

Jake Johnson: Because he has. It was pretty cool to be able to act with him while doing that.

Did you all spend time with real cops

Jake Johnson: We did in Los Angeles. We went on a ride along in Compton. Which was terrifying.

In Compton?Really?

Damon Wayans Jr: It was so scary.

Jake Johnson: So scary. They were having like gang parties. The cops know about it, the gangs know about it, we were all like, “What the fuck is going on?” Little babies with guns which was interesting. You’re like, “That is an adorable baby. Oh my God it has a gun!”

Damon Wayans Jr: Oh my God it’s got a gun.

Jake Johnson: Those little babies like, oh. I’m like okay I’ll hold you. The baby’s like, “Give me your shit.”

Watch the Let’s Be Cops trailer below!

Let’s Be Cops premieres in theaters August 13th!

Photo/Video Credit: 20th Century Fox/Youtube

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