Johnny Depp's '21 Jump Street' movie cameo stirs up hard memories


Image Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

You can go home again, even if that home is at 21 Jump Street.

Johnny Depp made his breakthrough on that Fox crime series in the late ’80s, and last week flew to New Orleans to shoot a cameo in the upcoming big-screen remake, though it stirred up memories of when he fought to be released from the show, and won. Now, he’s voluntarily going back.

“It might be difficult to spot me in this one right off the bat,” he says. “I’ll be a little … different.”

He’s no stranger to remakes, having done Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the upcoming Dark Shadows. This is the first time he has been remade, though.


Image Credit: Everett Collection

In the original, Depp (seen here with Peter DeLuise) was heartthrob cop Tom Hanson, part of a squad that specialized in going undercover with young people. It ran from 1987 through 1991, though Depp — a burgeoning movie star — got out of the show before its last season. The new movie stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who previously made animated Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Depp liked that the remake was being overseen by people who know how to laugh.

“When I heard about it, I thought: ‘Why not?’ It seemed like a good idea. It had the right spirit, because it was looking back on the show that … Jesus, that was 1986 [when it started], a very different world then in terms of what was possible and allowed.” He now finds it ironic that Fox “puts out the best show on television, Family Guy,” which is insanely raunchy compared to what they were permitted to do. In fact, they were constantly trying to find ways to make it seem like the show was healthy for kids to watch. “This was the same network where it was, ‘No, no, you will do a PSA with [then Surgeon General] C. Everett Koop. This is how we are going to show you to the world,'” Depp says. (For proof of that well-intentioned, but awkward pairing, see below.)

Anyway, Depp digresses …

“I don’t know what it is,” he says of the 21 Jump Street remake. It’s not his movie. “But I imagine there is some sense of humor behind it,” he adds. “It’s nice to come into it and have a bit of closure, in a way. I got out of Jump Street on a sort of technicality in the middle of filming Edward Scissorhands. I was supposed to go back for a couple seasons, but there was just some weirdness with a date when they had to let me know to come back, and they didn’t and agents and lawyers started going ape. And suddenly, your off and out. So for me, to come back to this, in a weird way, is interesting.

“Full circle,” he says.

21 Jump Street, the movie, is set for release March 16, 2012.

For more on Johnny Depp, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands today. And for more movie news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter @Breznican.

Read more:
Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4′: This Week’s Cover
Johnny Depp set for uncredited cameo in ’21 Jump Street’
Johnny Depp’s Signature Roles

Comments (25 total) Add your comment
  • Ana

    I think it shows how much Johnny’s changed because it seems like he did nothing but complain pretty much the entire time he was on that show.

    • Flip

      So is Johnny cameoing as Tom Hanson, or is Channing Tatum the new Tom Hanson?

      • Luca

        From what I understand Depp is NOT Hanson. They are remaking not continuing so Tatum is Tom Hanson.

        Personally I think that they’re wrong to be doing a remake. Depp, Deluise are the characters. Let them stay the characters.
        Instead they could have done this as 20 years later. We have two young looking cops on a case that leads them to a high school connection. We find them sitting at a diner taking about what the heck they are going to do now. See they need to shove this if they are going to get any respect cause they are treated like the kids they look like. gripe gripe. then the camera pulls back and we see they are not in a diner but rather at a bowling alley with a big sign that says “Thursday Night, Cops bowl for half price”. A guy interrupts with a ‘back in my day’ and we see it is Tom Hanson. Forced to quit cause of a bad injury he bought the old bowling alley etc. And he tells them about Jump Street and so on

  • kristine

    I remember how much he complained about being on it too back then. Why did he resent it so much? It was a fun show for what it was and I remember all my tween friends back then crushing on him.

    • Luca

      He griped because it was just a fun show. Fox wouldn’t let them get too serious or too dark for fear they would lose audience. And it showed. Heck it still shows. They did one or two PSA ish eps that were just lame (come on the Aids kid had to ask Hanson to hug him, makes Hanson look like a douche). And maybe three truly serious eps the whole run.
      Depp wanted things to be more real, less goofy. But Fox wasn’t having it. So he asked to be let go.

  • lalala

    I got the impression that he didn’t complain about the show itself but the labeling of him as a teen heartthrob and that kind of attention, as in he didn’t think he was taken seriously.

    • Luca

      He complained about the show. But yes he also complained about being treated as just a face and not an actor. He suffered the same issues as Christian Bale. Both were highlighted more for their looks and being in fluff stuff than treated like real actors. And both didn’t care for it one bit. And were willing to speak up about it rather bluntly, unlike say Daniel Radcliffe who was more off the cuff with his negative opinions about Chris Columbus when he was extremely praising of Cuaron directing them ‘just like real adult actors’ etc

  • Nic.

    I miss the McQuade brothers! Does anyone know if one of the cable networks is running the old episodes of 21 Jump Street?

    • loop

      It’s on Netflix

      • Luca

        yes but they took it off watch instantly which sucks cause I didn’t want to have to go weeks to see everything. perhaps i’ll look around and see if I can find a box set on the cheap

    • Sassy

      It’s on Hulu… the entire series.

  • Flip

    I want to know if this movie is a pseudos-sequel to the series the way the Charlie’s Angels movies were a pseudo-sequel to the series, or if 21JS: The Movie is a typical remake where these new actors are playing updated versions of the original characters.

    • bmospr04

      It’ll be interesting how Jonah Hill passes for a Cop and a high school kid at the same time

  • bmospr04

    The show surprisingly holds up. They were touching on issues same as today. It’s amazing how many high schools they went to 4-5 seasons worth. Pretty cool Deep did the cameo. Can’t wait for the movie. The show’s DVDs are pretty cheap. $15 for a 2 season pack @ Target. Good watch on a lazy Saturday/Sunday.

    • Luca

      don’t forget that they did some collage stuff also. Frankly they should have been mixing that in from the start. And bringing in other young cops. Then it wouldn’t have seemed so weird. They cycle the cops into the ‘older’ cases after a year or so when they are looking older and have burned themselves in pretty much all the schools and bring in fresh talent.

  • Tracy

    Depp despised being labeled as a “teen heartthrob”. I loved the show when it was on, but always reading about how much he hated it took some of the pleasure out of watching it for me. It had some important lessons that eally do hold up today.

  • Wrath of Colin

    How is this the first time Depp has been remade? What about A Nightmare on Elm Street? They may have changed some character names but it was still the same recycled story.

    • Luca

      As you point out, it wasn’t the same character. So Depp wasn’t remade in Nightmare 2010. Unlike this time when they are using his old Jump Street character

  • piratesfan

    Channing Tatum not playing Hanson, he playing a guy called Jenko. Jonah Hill’s character is Schmidt. So either is Hanson.The only one that can play Hanson is Johnny Depp. I do not know for sure if he is playing Hanson, because on the imdb page it is blank by his name. I can’t wait to see it. I loved the series and have it on DVD. Just too bad it’s only a small clip of Johnny.

  • Choop

    “C Everrt Coop. Coop Coop Sha Doop.”

    “This is worse than your song about Mr. T!”

    “I pity the fool who doesn’t like…he.”

  • Gail

    Isn’t he gorgeous?

  • taylor

    theyre filming this movie at my school!

  • Joyce

    I really don’t understand why they are remaking it. There Hollywood goes again, Destroying everything that was awesome. Oh I’m sorry. I mean remaking films, shows, etc.
    And for Johnny Depp to complain about the show for as long as he has and then just randomly go back to it like he did. I don’t know what to make of the whole thing. It’s kinda confusing.

    Well I’m going to go watch the Original 21 Jump Street.

  • watch 21 jump street online free

    That’s a very interesting movie. I have the full version of 21 jump street movie..

  • led display

    Usually I do not learn post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.

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