Following a successful run on Fox, 21 Jump Street and its cast have continued to find a place for themselves in the entertainment industry.
The crime drama, which ran from 1987 to 1991, introduced viewers to stars including Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete, and focused on undercover police officers who investigated crimes in high schools and colleges. After wrapping up after five seasons, the hit series inspired a short-lived spinoff titled Booker about the character Dennis Booker (Richard Grieco).
A film adaptation was later developed with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum bringing the beloved series to the big screen in 2012. The movie, which included cameos from Depp, Peete and DeLuise, also received a sequel titled 22 Jump Street.
More than two decades after 21 Jump Street originally debuted, Nguyen opened up about bringing the trailblazing role of Harry Truman Ioki to life.
“I remember some of my peers, talking to them while I was doing 21 Jump Street and they expressed a lot of frustration, sharing with me about the really bad dialogue and all the clichés [they were being offered],” the actor told Today in June 2022 about being part of the popular TV series.
He continued: “I just had one of those moments like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on this show, and I have none of that.’ I just love the way the character was written. I’m very fortunate where I never was in a position where I felt like I was portraying something that was uncomfortable.”
For Nguyen, getting to play a meaningful role that offered representation to the Asian American community was the highlight of his career. “I got kind of spoiled because after I left the show, then you’re kind of back out there and you’re like, ‘Oh man, I had a really good thing,’” he continued. “I don’t sit and think about ‘I’m a pioneer’ and this and that — you’re just focused on getting another job to keep working — but it means a lot to me.”
The filmmaker also praised the legacy that 21 Jump Street was able to leave behind. “It was actually very progressive back then. I was just kind of ignorant in terms of the significance until the show became a hit and people would start saying, ‘You’re one of the few, if not the only, Asian American leads on a mainstream TV series,’ and that hit me kind of hard,” he shared.
Scroll down to see what the 21 Jump Street cast has been up to: