CBS and Warner Bros TV are going with unknown actors for both leads in the Rush Hour series remake, which probably makes sense given how closely associated the roles are with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, who played them in the movie franchise. Little-known actor-comedian Justin Hires (21 Jump Street, Key & Peele) beat out several bigger names to play Carter opposite Jon Foo’s Lee in CBS’ hourlong action pilot Rush Hour.

jonfoo1Written/executive produced by Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick and directed/exec produced by Jon Turteltaub, the pilot centers on Lee (Foo), a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer assigned to a case in Los Angeles, where he’s forced to work with Carter (Hires), a cocky black LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner. Carter is described as an irreverent and wildly confident bad-boy detective, a maverick who uses unorthodox methods to get things done, often causing the top brass to look the other way.

While Hires is largely unknown to the general public, he is familiar to CBS brass as he was featured in the 2011 edition of the network’s diversity showcase, whose alumni include SNL’s Kate McKinnon, Heroes’ Masi Oka, The Daily Show‘s Wyatt Cenac and another pilot star this season, Fortune Feimster.

Rush HourThings came down very quickly for Hires, who yesterday was in Austin for a three-day engagement as featured player in an Affion Crockett show. He abruptly cancelled his appearances at the last minute to head back to Los Angeles and clinch the Rush Hour gig. Hires also had a role in MTV’s pilot Ken Jeong Made Me Do It, which is still alive, though Rush Hour has him in first position.

The movies’ director Brett Ratner and producer Arthur Sarkissian also executive produce the CBS pilot with Jeff Ingold for Warner Bros TV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer.

Hires is repped by Marsh Entertainment and DSA.