Twenty-seven years after the crime drama series 21 Jump Street first aired on Fox, its biggest star, Johnny Depp, is still making headlines as a mega movie star. Depp and co-stars Holly Robinson Peete and Peter DeLuise even made cameos in the 2012 movie spinoff of the TV cop show. But for the upcoming Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill movie sequel 22 Jump Street, you'll see another familiar face. And no, it's not Brad Pitt playing a librarian — although apparently that does happen.
Richard Grieco, who played Detective Dennis Booker for two seasons on the iconic 1980s TV series, will reprise his role in the big screen reboot of the police procedural. Yes, Booker is back!
Check out Richard Grieco on 21 Jump Street:
In case you need a refresher on Booker (and Grieco), let's just say the character was popular enough to warrant a Jump Street spinoff, albeit a short-lived one. Booker premiered in 1989 and followed the leather-jacket-wearing former LAPD detective as he took on a new role with a Japanese company's internal investigation division.
Watch the Booker intro:
Unfortunately, Booker lasted only one season (despite boasting totally '80s guest stars such as Pauly Shore and Vanity), and Grieco, once a TV heartthrob, pretty much disappeared from the limelight. A spotty acting résumé followed (remember the UPN drama Marker?), and last year the 49-year-old told Fox 411 he stepped back from showbiz to focus on his true passion as a painter. According to Grieco's gallery website, the abstract artist, paints "from the subtext of the subconscious," combines expressionism, surrealism, and cubism to create his own style of art. He even coined the painting style Abstract Emotionalism.
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But why the career change 20 years after 21 Jump Street? "I have been an artist for over 20 years," Grieco revealed to Fox. "I think being an artist is being an artist period, either being in front of an audience or camera, or in front of a canvas. … [I stepped away from acting] because being a true artist I don't think you can dabble when you paint. You have to be totally committed to it, which means letting all emotion and every ounce of energy you have to be focused on the canvas."
But at the time he also admitted the upcoming movie reboot could use a blast from his Booker past: "I think Booker is an important character," he said of his antagonistic alter ego.
So do we!
The first film stuck to cameos from original, first-season Jump Street characters, such as Depp's Officer Tom Hanson and Robinson Peete's Officer Judy Hoffs. Grieco explains his absence from the flick to Access Hollywood another way: "It's a comedy, and I was too dark," he said. "The Booker character — it made the third season great, because you need an antagonist. Everyone can't be chummy, chummy all the time. … If Darth Vader wasn't in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker would just be a guy traveling around with a frickin' sword. So that intensified the series, so I think if they do a sequel, it'll be a little different."
[Related: 5 Secrets From the Set of '22 Jump Street']
With the sequel now a reality (original cast member Dustin Nguyen, who played undercover cop Harry Truman Ioki on the show, also has a small cameo in the film as Vietnamese Jesus), what can we expect when we see a middle-aged Booker on the big screen? (Remember, Grieco was only in his mid-20s when he last played the role.) Earlier this year, a source told Radar Online that Greico "even cut his hair for the [movie] role and brought back some of his iconic swag items."
Hmmm, we're thinking there's gotta be a leather jacket in there somewhere.
Found my 21 Jump Street/Booker jacket in one of my closets yesterday , very cool : ) pic.twitter.com/9p75kJJ6rz— Richard Grieco (@Richard_Grieco) March 29, 2014
22 Jump Street opens everywhere Friday, June 13.