Johnny Depp goes undercover (1988)

21 Jump Street’s shooting star goes undercover

There are two reasons why 21 Jump Street is a hit series on the Fox Network. One, it’s not your average police show; it’s about undercover cops in a high school and they candidly discuss controversial subjects — from alcohol and drug abuse to child pornography.

Another reason may be the appearance each week of handsome Johnny Depp, 24, who plays Officer Tommy Hansen on the show. Johnny says he hopes the public-service messages are reaching viewers each week. “If somebody can get something out of it, can learn something… that’s great,” says the brown-eyed actor who paused between takes of the show to talk to Splice.

“When my character [Tommy] came into the program, he was pretty naive, kind of straight,” he says. “But he’s grown and learned the streets. He’s not as naive as he once was.” And Johnny himself is a little more streetwise about acting since his motion-picture debut in the thriller, A Nightmare on Elm Street. “I had no idea about [phrases like] ‘hit your mark,’ or ‘give me more level,'” he adds.

After Nightmare, Johnny landed the role of Learner in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, which he describes as grueling. “It was highly emotional,” he explains. “We went through two weeks of training in the jungle. When you put 30 guys together, you build a real tightness.”

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Luck, however, was not exactly on Johnny’s side when he auditioned for 21 Jump Street — he was suffering from a bout with the flu. But Johnny made the best of it: “It helped my concentration,” he says. “After all, I got the part.”

Though the show takes up much of Johnny Depp’s free time, he wants to get together with his former band, the Rock City Angels, to record a song. And in the future, he would like to get a well-rounded view of the film industry. “I’d like to keep trying to fill myself in on every aspect of the industry,” he says. “Acting, directing, whatever. One day I may even be a dolly grip, you never know.”

But it’s not likely Johnny will stay behind the scenes. The way this shooting star’s career is soaring, he won’t remain undercover for long.

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