John Witherspoon Says He & Chris Tucker Were Only Paid $5K For Friday (Video)
At present, there are discussions about the possibility of a fourth and final film in the Friday franchise, Last Friday. One year ago, Friday co-writer DJ Pooh told Drink Champs that the film script is in the works, “Me and [Ice] Cube haven’t worked together in a while, but we’re working on Last Friday…we’re working on Last Friday.”
Many have speculated on whether Chris Tucker, who played “Smokey” in the 1995 original, would make a return to the franchise he helped make famous. In February, also on Drink Champs, Ice Cube revealed that he was attempting to bring back his on-screen counterpart if the film comes to fruition. “We’re still trying to get Chris to do it…I hope so; I can’t make Chris do it, but fans can hit him up.”
Almost a year later, in February of this year, Chris Tucker addressed the subject. “I don’t know. I talked to [Ice] Cube about it,” he revealed to ESPN’s The Plug Podcast. “He told me he was working on some stuff. And if it comes together right, I’m definitely gonna look at it and see if it works. ‘Cause I never say never; I definitely want to check it out. If it works, it’s a possibility.”
While the details are worked out, a new interview with John Witherspoon sheds more light on Tucker’s exit after the first film. Witherspoon, a veteran actor and stand-up comedian who famously played Cube’s character’s father, “Willie Jones,” spoke with VladTV about the production.
“[Friday cost] $2 million [to make]; we got paid $5,000 a piece to do that movie,” states the actor, who went on to star on The Wayans Bros. New Line Cinema put up the money, after producer/creator Ice Cube initially made the offer for the 20-day shoot. “The movie grossed $300 million! And they’re not gonna come back and say, ‘Look, we made a lot of money [and we are] gonna give y’all a bonus.’ That’s some bullsh*t—that don’t happen in Hollywood.”
Witherspoon adds that the $5,000 checks were the standard rate for a cast that also included Nia Long, Bernie Mac, A.J. Johnson, Tiny Lister, Jr., Regina King, Faizon Love, and more. “Five grand. Everybody else on the show, they’re gonna say they made more money, ain’t nobody make no money on that movie. Five thousand.” DJ Vlad asks John about Chris Tucker’s Friday salary. “About the same thing,” responds John, adding that Cube especially, and also Pooh made money due to the strong film return.
Vlad asks John Witherspoon what happened with Chris Tucker’s exit. “He [was] with Jackie Chan doing Rush Hour, making $20 million. I wouldn’t go back to Friday either,” he replies. “It’s all about money.” He adds that his pay increase went from $5,000 to $400,000 for 2000’s Next Friday, implying that Tucker was due for a significant raise. “He would’ve gotten more, but it wasn’t no $20 million. If I could’ve gotten a three-picture deal for $20 million each, I would’ve been right there with him.”
Witherspoon does confirm reports that Tucker distanced himself from the “Smokey” character for other reasons. “Plus, he got religious [and the church council did not want to glorify] kids smokin’ weed…the preachers got to him and said, ‘you can’t be in a movie where they smokin’ weed and stuff.’ Now weed is legal. [So now he can] go back. [But] he got another job with Jackie Chan again,” referring to the confirmed Rush Hour 4 news.
Asked if he believes Tucker is coming back for Last Friday, the actor says he does not know, but does not think so. Regarding his own involvement, he says, “If they do it, I would. ‘Cause I talked to Cube, and he said he talked to Warner Bros., and they gonna do it…I’ll be there ’cause I need that paper.”