LOS ANGELES – Richard Grieco was a 23-year-old aspiring screen star when he shot to fame alongside Johnny Depp as Detective Dennis Booker in the popular 80’s police crime television drama “21 Jump Street.”
Although he still resides in Los Angeles, these days Grieco has turned his back on acting to work full-time on his first love: painting.
“I have been an artist for over twenty years. 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. It is all about passion, emotion and commitment,” he told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “(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.”
It wasn’t until a few years ago that Grieco “came out” to publicly reveal his side hobby of painting, after being encouraged to do so by the late actor and art enthusiast Dennis Hopper.
“Dennis told me to show my work to the world. It was a little daunting yet my work is based on the subconscious and not a literal point-of-view, and it is all based on pure, unbridled emotion,” he continued.
And while it has been almost 25 years since he bounced from the “Jump Street” set, his time on the iconic series still has a place in the art he creates. Grieco is showing his work on August 15 at Gallerie Sparta on Sunset Plaza, and one particular painting,“Blue Jean Red,” features pieces of the last pair of jeans he wore in the final show with Depp.
But while Grieco’s full-time job now involves holding a sponge instead of a script, he still hopes to make an appearance in the highly-anticipated sequel to last year’s Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill-starring “21 Jump Street” film reboot.
“I think Booker is an important character,” he said.
Grieco also insists that when it comes to his former co-star – who has gone on to become one of the highest paid film stars of all time – he has no desire to take a walk in his shoes.
“Johnny is doing great and I am happy for him,” Grieco added. “But I like my shoes.”