Actor Jimmy Tatro is a YouTube sensation. His channel LifeAccordingToJimmy has over 2 million YouTube subscribers and his videos collectively have over 180 million views.
He had a small role in “Grown Ups 2,” but is about to make a bigger splash in “22 Jump Street,” out June 13 of this year. Tatro is one of the football team captains and plays a “huge douchebag” named Rooster. He also has a faux hawk with red highlights.
On set, Jimmy joined a select group of reporters for a roundtable Q&A.
Q: Can you walk us through what you were just doing on the field?
Today is the scene where it’s walk-on day and I am the huge douchebag in this movie that is running the defense at the end of the field and not taking too kindly to these new walk-ons coming up in my territory. So I’m just letting them know who’s boss and there’s a slight jealousy when Wyatt and Channing begin their little bromance over there, collision with the roast beef sandwich and the Q-tip. So I’m starting to get a little jealous and that carries out throughout the movie.
Q: So you and Wyatt are on the team and they’re the walk-ons?
Yeah, I would probably be like the defensive caption and he’s like the offensive captain. So we’re buddies until Channing replaces me as his best friend and I’m kind of upset about that.
Q: So does that disappointment make you bond with Jonah’s character?
No, I hate Jonah’s character, so you’d think that we both kind of bond over the fact that we’re the outcasts, but no I’m just not nice enough to bond with anyone so I think it’s funny throughout the whole thing, he’s so alone and I’m always so alone, but I’m just too stubborn. I still hate the guy for no reason.
Q: Can you speak about the casting process? How did you get involved with the film?
My agent just set me up with an audition, I was actually auditioning for the role of Zook, originally. I went in, got a callback, and then thought I did pretty well, but then they told me I didn’t get it and I thought, “Oh man thats fine.” But then I found I got the role of Rooster and I thought, “Okay, this could be fun.” They told me, “Yeah, he’s the guy with the red Mohawk” and I was like, “Do I need the red Mohawk?” They told me that “The character is called Rooster and you’re not getting out of the Mohawk.” So I was like, “Alright, I’m going to buy a lot of hats for this trip to New Orleans.”
Q: It could be worse though.
I went with a faux hawk, I didn’t want to go Chuck Liddell, red stripe down the head.
Q: Was there a negotiation on that?
I don’t know if they had in mind for me to have the full red hawk but I was like “could we just do a faux hawk? That would be a little cooler.”
Q: It seems like with your background online are comfortable with the comedy improv?
Yeah, there’s more improv on this then I even really do in my videos, which is a surprise me because we’ve got a guy like Jonah Hill, who is an improv genius. You have to roll with it and he hits you with unexpected lines that you’re just like, “Wow, that came out of nowhere and it’s incredibly random, but it’s hilarious” so I just got to try to comeback with something funny, while you’re not just trying to do too much at the same time. It’s been really cool doing the whole comedy thing. Because the last one I did was “Grown Ups 2,” but it wasn’t really the same, this is a R-rated comedy movie and that’s just a ton of fun to do.
Q: You’re just cursing up a little bit just now right?
Yeah exactly, I’m like “Am I allowed to say the F word this many times, is that cool?” and they’re like “Yeah cuss away do whatever you want, tell them to suck a dick its fine.”
Q: Can you speak about your viral videos and how you came to do those?
I’ve always just enjoyed creating sketches and stuff. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld, those were my two shows, we never had cable. So I liked the concept of making sketches and stuff and then I found out about Youtube, and I found out people were just making livings off of making sketches once a week. I thought, “I can do this, this is something I can definitely do” and I just started putting out content, and once I have one video that went viral after that it was just a matter of being consistent and putting out content people could see every week.
Q: Because you’re shooting on location here, you had to make a bunch of videos?
Yeah before we came out here, I knew we were going to be here for a while so it was a hectic 18 day period and shot 10 videos in 18 days, for me it’s just unheard of. One video a week is enough for me, but they don’t know I’m shooting a movie, so I can’t just be like “Sorry guys, I’m not going to give you your weekly videos.”
Q: Because of your videos presumably you have a very strong fan base for you online, is there a stigma when you’re trying to get into a major motion picture because of that, do casting directors know?
Yeah, I think that’s something that definitely helps especially in terms of negotiating stuff and being able to lay down some numbers and say “We can bring x amount of tickets based on, I have two million subscribers on Youtube, and I can make a video saying, hey everybody go see this movie, and since they’re fans of me there’s going to be a pretty good conversion rate of fans that want to see the movie.” That definitely helps, I’m not sure how exactly the whole negotiating thing goes on. Yeah, it couldn’t hurt.
Q: What’s been like to work with Phil Lord and Chris Miller in terms of collaboration?
They’re great, they’re really cool. I had never worked with them before, but coming here and just seeing the way they just change everything, and tailor everything to fit the previous scenes, or add in improv and that’ll change things that happen throughout the course of the film and they’re constantly rewriting and constantly adding in things that they think will be funny. They’re really cool and really creative nice guys.
Q: As somebody who write comedy and performs comedy, what did you think when you read the script? And also, as a sequel to a movie that was such a funny big hit. What was your personal take on that?
I personally saw “21 Jump Street,” and that was before I had any idea I was going to be involved with this one, and I just thought it was just hilarious. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a movie since I saw “Superbad” in theaters. So I was really excited when I got to the read through, and I was just hoping for the best with this script. Since the sequels can be hit or miss, but I read the script and I was like “Oh my god, this might be funnier than the first one and I think the first one was unreal.” So I was super excited coming out of the table-read, and I was like “This is a really really funny script” I think they said themselves that it could basically shoot itself, but we have amazing talent everywhere on this so it’s just going to be very good.
Q: Obviously with your Youtube stuff you have full control over everything basically, is it hard to just be an actor or is it easier, like a vacation to some degree?
It is kind of like a vacation being here, it is hard work and it’s not necessarily easy but it is easier than writing, directing, producing, starring in, and editing the videos. Because I’m only acting in this, and they give me some freedom with improv and stuff like that, but for the most part I just trust what they’re telling me to do and I have faith with the movie being in their hands. The movie is in very good hands.
Q: Has it inspired you do work differently?
It just inspired me to work harder to do bigger things. I’d like to be doing this kind of stuff all the time, instead of just YouTube videos. It opened up my willingness to improv and stuff like that because in the videos I do, we stick to the script a lot, because the scripts we write are pretty funny, so we tend to just stick to it but we do improv a little bit. There’s a lot of improv here so it’s cool to see how it all goes down.
Q: How about the whole bromance that plays out, did you guys do any bonding, hanging out in the quarters, doing anything like that?
Yeah we’ve been hanging out in the quarter. The quarter is a very fun place, getting into a little bit of trouble down there, but yeah it’s fun, we’ve been hanging out.
Q: Well you have a healthy subscriber base on Youtube, can you speak on any of most interesting fan encounter that you’ve had?
The weekend of the University of Florida VS LSU game, my demographic is pretty much all college kids, so I was just getting mobbed on Bourbon Street. Kids come up to me and they think is they say something fratty (Because I make a lot of frat videos) immediately I’m just going to relate to them and they’re the coolest person in the world. So kids come up to me at bars and are like “Dude what are you doing here, you’re better than this man,” and I’m just sitting there casually with a couple of my buddies and I’m just like “I’m having a drink, man.” and they’re like “Dude you gotta go to this place F&M, its a way frattier crowd” and just look at me and expect me to be like “Yes! You said frat! Yeah!” I have lot of weird interactions because I do a lot of videos on the party scene, so a lot of people look at me and say completely out of hand statements and expect me to just think that they’re awesome. In reality I’m not a huge douchebag, I just like to take it easy and I’m just kind of hanging out.
Q: Did you have an interest in sports? Do you play sports?
Yeah, until sophomore year I was pretty convinced I was going to the NBA and then I realized that I’m 5’10 … and that was definitely not going to happen. I played football freshman year in high school, and then I played basketball all four years and volleyball all four years. I would say my peak of football was seventh grade flag football. I was pretty much the man in seventh grade flag football, there was no stopping me. So I’m just re-living the seventh grade glory days out here.