’22 Jump Street’: Inside The Kiss-Fight That Almost Never Happened

Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord explain what went on in that insane scene.

With reporting by Josh Horowitz

There are plenty of insane moments in “22 Jump Street,” but none quite as stupendously shocking as a scene we’re calling The Kiss Fight. A possible contender for both Best Kiss and Best Fight at next year’s MTV Movie Awards, the scene finds stars Jonah Hill and Jillian Bell locked in mortal combat… At which point things get weird.

Jillian’s character, possibly mistaking what’s going on between the two — and playing off the cliché fight-ending-in-makeout-sesh trope — asks Hill if he’s trying to kiss her. And then they fight some more. And then she thinks he’s trying to kiss her again.

The joke — and scene — go on for way too long, building in insanity and hilarity until it becomes a new classic. But funnily enough, the scene almost never happened.

“That one in particular was on the day,” Christopher Miller, the co-director of the film told MTV News. “Jillian Bell from ‘Workaholics’ is a hilarious improviser, and is one of few people who can put Jonah on his heels. The scene was supposed to be them [having] a big, knock out fist fight.”

And they do, at least at first. Bell’s character Mercedes bullies Hill’s Schmidt, forcing him to hit her. And then she dishes back even harder, a moment that could go on the wrong side of hilarious.

“We just thought it was funny for them to have a fist fight, right?” Phil Lord, the movie’s other director said. “And then, it’s like weird and scary in a movie to see a man hit a woman, and could a woman provoke a man enough to where it might not seem so weird.”

And it’s not. The weird part isn’t the hitting, which builds fluidly off the antagonistic relationship Mercedes and Schmidt have had throughout the movie. So how, exactly, did they end up almost kissing — which for our money is where things actually start to get hilariously strange.

“After a couple of takes, their chemistry was so strong, we just said, well, what it you tried to kiss him?” Lord continued “And luckily we’re cross-shooting, which means that we have both sides of the conversation on camera. So what you see in the movie is basically what happened after we said that.”

“Them improvising this whole, crazy Kiss Fight, and seeing two masters of improvisational comedy go at it,” Miller finished up.

So there you go! A scene so funny we were crying laughing in the movie theater, and it almost never existed. The world is better for it, so thanks, cross-shooting and inspiration.

“22 Jump Street” is in theaters now.

Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.
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