21 Jump Street Depp
Credit: Everett Collection

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.

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: