Q: What episodes did Johnny Depp refuse to do and/take part in, and why?
At the time of its launch, Jump Street was considered radical, tackling “real” issues such as AIDS and racism and refusing to conform to television’s conventional “Happy ending” syndrome. Now, as Depp waits to hear about a firth series – he is contractually obliged to appear in two more seasons if asked to – he seems determined to bad mouth
the show into dropping him.
“It’s been great for me, it’s put me on the map, it’s given me a following of sorts, and I’m happy with that,” he says as a precursor to his attack on Jump Street. “But in my opinion, I feel that I’ve run the gamut of anything you can possibly do on that show. I don’t think I have anything more to offer on the show. I’ve had six nervous breakdowns – I’ve lost my father on the show, I’ve lost girlfriends who’s been killed on the show, I’ve supposedly murdered a cop and went to prison for it…I don’t know that people wouldn’t have found me out after all that stuff! We’re heading into Fellini. And also, I don’t really agree with the idea of cops in high schools. Morally I don’t agree with it. I think it’s slightly unjust, I think its borderline fascism.”
Hastening to add that this is “just my opinion”, Depp acknowledges that his stubborn artistic nature – he has refused to appear in episodes that have conflicted with his personal and political beliefs – has not endeared him to the show’s producers.
“The one thing I don’t think they like about me is that I’m honest about it. That type of honesty can make for problems. But I do respect them, and I do respect what the show has done. At the same time, if it gets repetitive it could be dangerous. If they’re going to tackle issues like racism they should really do it, instead of beating around the bush.”
Sky UK Magazine, 1990
Then, at the end of Season Two, Patrick Hasburgh left the series resulting in a major impact on the topics and writing of the Jump Street episodes, and also having a major impact on Depp as well. The content of the episodes began to become less and less appealing to Depp and they also contained issues and parts for him to play that he totally disagreed with. So, just as Depp had refused the public service announcements, Depp began refusing to do episodes.
Hence, enter Depp’s cover, Richard Grieco as Officer Dennis Booker. This may be a topic for disagreement, but it is fairly knowledgeable that Grieco was only cast to do the roles that Depp either didn’t want to do or down right refused to do. Depp had already played a role in which he had to set a cross on fire in a episode dealing with racism. Depp found the approach to the whole racial topic wrong and refused to participate in future episodes that he totally disagreed with.
Thus, in complete disagreement with the episodes “Nemesis” in which a young boy is killed so a Jump Street cop won’t blow his cover and “Next Victim” in which strong racial comments had to be thrown over the radio by a Jump Street cop, Depp refused to participate and forfeited $45,000 per episode to stand up for what he felt was right. Grieco stepped in and played the lead role in both of these episodes.
It is evident when watching these two episodes, especially “Nemesis”, that they were written with Depp’s character in mind, but Depp still refused. Depp became more and more disgusted with the episode topics and felt like the issues they were dealing with weren’t in depth enough to have an impact on society. With his life becoming more and more unhappy with each day, Depp began looking for a way out.
Q: Does Johnny Depp have an fixation with Tom Hanson and peanut butter?
A: Seemingly so.
Johnny Depp: I think they should make the character start to lose his mind. Because, you know, the hazards of being a policeman can make you crazy. SO I think that they should make him become obsessed with hoarding peanut butter in his desk and things like that.
John Waters: I do think it’s a good idea for you to lose your mind on the show, but then, you know, you’ll have to get it back.
Johnny Depp: No, I think he should go completely insane. They should really break the boundaries that are in television. They should make him lose his mind. They should put him in an asylum.
So he changed the words: piquant dialogue such as “This is a great place, Doug, this is like your other place” became “Nice digs, Doug, you dog. Dig ’em.” He went to the producers suggesting his character first become fixated with peanut butter, then be discovered smearing it over his naked body.
“I’m hoping they’ll let me do a cameo,” Depp said with a laugh. “Someone will say, ‘Whatever happened to Tom Hanson?’ and they’ll find me somewhere hoarding jars of peanut butter and shaking in my underpants.”
Q: Did Johnny Depp date Holly Robinson? And is it true that she turned him down?!
A: Most likely.
“Everyone that meets me seems to want to know the same thing. `What’s it like working with Johnny Depp?’ And I always give the same answer – it’s wonderful. Not just because we’re both really dedicated to the show and its message to high school kids – `drugs are not cool’! – but because we get along so well. And because he’s a really sweet guy.
“First of all, and I’m not sure most people know this, Johnny and I are both musicians. I mean that. We think of ourselves as musicians first and actors second! We both write songs, but I’m more of a singer and Johnny’s, more of a guitarist.
“And we perform together sometimes. So it’s only been at cast and crew wrap parties, but we’ve been talking and Johnny just may play a couple of tracks of the album that I’m making. I hope that happens.
“As for Johnny’ own music, that’s something he’s a little hesitant about right now. It’s real important to him that whatever music he puts out that isn’t confused with the image he has. You know people see him as an actor and he’s becoming a celebrity and all… Johnny just wants his music to be taken seriously, not as a celebrity who’s suddenly trying to make a record.
Is there a Romance? “Because of the attraction of our characters – Tommy and Judy clearly like each other – and the fact that off screen, Johnny and I do hang out together, people are always asking if we have a thing going on. Well, the answer on 21 Jump Street is that I don’t know – whether Tommy and Judy get past the flirting stage is up to the writers! – but I can tell you that in real life were just buddies, that’s all!
“What else can I say about Johnny? He’s a great actor, in my opinion – and a great friend.”
“It’s hard for Johnny to be cool about all this, but he is one of the coolest people I know,” says co-star Holly Robinson who plays Officer Judy Hoffs. “On the set, he’s a different guy than what you see in public. He plays guitar. He’s the leader of the Jump Street garage band. We have water pistol fights. That’s Johnny Depp.”