Before the release of Friday in April 1995, films about life in South Central had painted a bleak portrait of the hood that was largely covered in splashes of red. Colors (1988), Boyz N the Hood (1991), and Menace II Society (1993) all centered on themes of bloodshed and tragedy, which became synonymous with life in that part of the city, especially for people across the country who watched the L.A. riots play out on televisions in their living rooms exactly three years earlier.
The films illuminated real issues in the community, but violence wasn’t the only thing those in South Central wanted to be known for. So, a trio of native Angelenos in their early 20s—rapper-actor Ice Cube, DJ Pooh, and director F. Gary Gray—set out to share a different, more lighthearted, flavor of neighborhood life. It involved a lost job, two friends, a porch, some weed, and an eventful day. Gray, who directed the music video for Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” in early 1993, had the perfect spot to film it: 126th and Normandie, the block he grew up on.
Problem was, Cube had never acted in a comedy, Gray hadn’t directed a feature-length movie, and they only had 20 days to shoot once New Line Studios signed on. The project was happening—they just weren’t sure what was going to come out on the other side.
On a modest estimated budget of $3.5 million, Friday made nearly $30 million at the box office and spawned two sequels. The film’s strengths fell on the performances and improvisations of its mixed cast of new and veteran comedians, such as Bernie Mac, John Witherspoon, Anna Maria Horsford, Reynaldo Rey, Angela Means, Faizon Love, A.J. Johnson, and in particular, Chris Tucker, who co-starred as the bigmouth stoner Smokey and went on to star in three Rush Hour movies with Jackie Chan (but none of the Friday sequels). The film also helped propel the careers of a young Meagan Good and Michael Clarke Duncan.
Twenty years after its release, Friday’s impact is apparent every time the Internet generation tweets “Bye, Felicia”—a misspelling of Angela Means’ character, Felisha—or someone shouts a Smokey quote in a WorldStar video. These one-liners keep its popularity high, but it’s the film’s story about family and community, with characters who mirror people in our own lives, that has kept Friday burning on screens throughout the hood and beyond. Friday represents a coming-of-age moment for films that use life in South Central as their backdrop, and its attention to detail—the slamming of metal screen doors, the sizzle of eggs in the morning, broken-down cars with alarms—made it an authentic glimpse into family life, not just in South Central, but in neighborhoods around the country, during the ’90s.
This is the oral history of Friday, a film about $200, shot in 20 days, that is still smoking 20 years later.
DJ Pooh: It was in ’94, I believe, when we started writing the Friday script. Cube and I were sitting in the Street Knowledge basement [Cube’s old record production company] working on some tracks and we started talking about a movie.
Ice Cube: In the hood, they was doing movies like Boyz N the Hood, which I did, Menace II Society, South Central, and even Colors, going back that far. Everybody was looking at our neighborhood like it was hell on Earth, like the worst place you can grow up in America. And I’m like, Why? I didn’t see it all that way. I mean, I knew it was crazy around where I grew up but we had fun in the hood. We used to trip off the neighborhood. I was a fan of Cheech and Chong movies, of In Living Color, Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle; we watched them all the time and laughed at them. DJ Pooh is not only a superproducer but also a fool and crazy as hell. We in the studio laughing all day, smoking weed, and we were just like, “Yo, we need to create something to show how the hood really is, from our vantage point.” That’s how it started.
DJ Pooh: We came up with a rough idea of a movie that would take place in a day, a regular Friday in the hood. We started building around that. Me and Cube grew up around the same neighborhood, so we knew a lot of the same people. We started thinking about people we knew, what was going on, stuff that happened in our lives growing up, and just laughing and clowning about a bunch of different scenarios. Every hood has a Deebo or a Felisha.
Ice Cube: The script took a couple months to get together. Friday was the third script I wrote. I wrote one before called America Eats Its Young. After that I wrote a script called Fo’ Life, a hardcore script about the hood and going to jail and shit like that. [Boyz N the Hood director] John Singleton had encouraged me to start writing scripts because I wrote vivid records. He was like, “If you can write a vivid record that can make me see it in my mind, you can write a script.” The first two scripts I wrote were underdeveloped. Being self-taught, sometimes it takes a couple of tries to figure out what you need to do. By the time I wrote Friday, I was coming around, getting the whole structure of a script together. We had three acts and just had to have structure. I was on tour in Europe and [Pooh] was in L.A. and we would get on the phone and talk out stuff. I would be telling Pooh what I wrote and we’d throw in the stuff he thought of that we could add and we would just go back and forth until we had a final script, a whole day of craziness.
DJ Pooh: Cube is one of the hardest working guys I know. He’d be on the road performing one night and then be up before me the next morning on the phone.
"Everybody was looking at our neighborhood
like it was hell on Earth,
like the worst place you can grow up in America.
And I’m like, Why?" —Ice Cube
F. Gary Gray: I was involved before Cube even started the script. I met Cube through WC while shooting a music video for “Dress Code.” We all went to Washington High School. Cube didn’t live too far away from me. Back in the day, he lived off Western near Imperial. Cube and I did a few videos after that: “True to the Game,” “Really Doe,” and “It Was a Good Day.” I told him over the course of doing his music videos that I was doing a short film I wanted to finish and I needed a little support. He donated some money to help me out. A couple months later, he said, “Listen, I know you’re doing your short film, but I have this idea about the neighborhood. Why don’t you do a feature film?” At the time, Matty Rich had shot this film Straight Out of Brooklyn on credit cards. Cube was like, “We should do our own film for $75,000, shoot it black and white, and it’ll just be about guys from our neighborhood.” I said, “Great idea, let’s go.” Cube went on tour and he started sending me pages from Europe and I’d send him my thoughts.
Ice Cube: Everything in Friday happened on my block at one point or another. We had a little kid named Chris who would knock over the trashcans with his bike and we wanted to whoop his ass. We wanted to catch him on that bike, we never could. In the movie we finally caught him. That’s why we put that in there.
F. Gary Gray: He’d describe some of these moments along the way, and I envisioned it in my neighborhood. What you see in Friday is a reflection of how I grew up, the house I grew up in, the neighbors that I had. I just delivered what I experienced. When I got the green light for the movie I took a camera and I shot the whole movie on video. My friend Andy played the role of Smokey for me as a stand-in. I went through the entire script and shot it with him and another friend. I wanted to see what the movie felt like and try to find creative ways to make it. A lot of times when you shoot a movie, hindsight is 20/20, and after you watch it you’re like, “Damn, I wish I did this, I wish I did that.” Shooting it on video camera lets you watch it, even if it was real crude. It’s like visuals or storyboards.
DJ Pooh: I got some of that stuff up on my Instagram.
F. Gary Gray: Friday fell apart because Cube was gonna do a sports movie called Defense, which I think he wrote. I wouldn’t say I was devastated, but I was really looking forward to doing it. I went off to go do another project called Rollin 80s and he went out to go do Defense. Then both of those movies fell apart and we came back together for Friday. I was maybe 23 when production of Friday started. Knowing Cube and how determined he is, Friday probably would have been made at some point either way. But I’m glad Defense fell apart. And the same with Rollin 80s. That would have been my first major movie, and it would have sent me on a different trajectory. Who knows….
Ice Cube: We knew nobody in Hollywood would understand the comedy in Friday. Hollywood wasn’t ready for it. When we wrote it, we intended to raise the money ourselves and do the movie—it was always greenlit in our eyes. It was just about writing it and raising the money, keeping the budget low. Our manager, Pat Charbonnet, helped us flesh the script out and keep costs low.
Patricia Charbonnet: You’ll be surprised, as the idea was coming together and scripts were being written, by how many people weren’t interested and turned it down. There was little to no interest, and fortunately for us, we opened up a pre-production office and brokered some money into the initial startup to get it going. There was a determination on all parts that, no matter who said yay or nay, the project had to be done—it was a good, funny vehicle. It was right off of the heels of Robert Rodriguez doing El Mariachi, which was a super-low-budget independent film that took off so well. On the strength of the talent that Ice Cube possessed, I believed that certainly something like this could happen if we dedicated ourselves to moving mountains, even if we had not made a film before. There was a naive belief that if Rodriguez could do it, then for sure we could do it, too. If Cheech and Chong could make Up in Smoke, and the movies like that preceding it, certainly we could be part of a new paradigm. The script had many, many, many incarnations before it got to the point where a deal was struck with New Line Cinema.
Ice Cube: We thought it was a good bet because New Line was already in the business of doing these kind of movies. They had done House Party. They understood the black movie market. I wanted Gary to direct because he was a talented director from the hood. You didn’t have to teach him these little nuances that were in the movie, like Big Worm’s rollers and shit. He knew all the hood flavor that needed to be in the movie.
F. Gary Gray: It being a comedy scared the shit out of me. Ice Cube was the nigga you loved to hate. He was like the toughest man in America, and when you take someone you’re used to delivering on hard-hitting social issues in hardcore gangster rap, and who has a hardcore point of view on politics, you would never think comedy. I was excited to do my first film. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and how people would receive Cube. This is the beginning and possibly the end of my career all in one moment.
Patricia Charbonnet: Cube has an incredible sense of humor. It’s the intelligent dry wit of one-liners that can just nuke you. At the time, if you didn’t know him, you didn’t know about him and his one-liners, and, apart from the intensity of his lyrics, I don’t think people knew that he just had so many extraordinary abilities.
Regina King: I got to know Cube in between scenes on the set of Boyz N the Hood. Regardless of how you saw him in Boyz N the Hood, outside of that serious role, he laughed and cracked and bagged and did all those things that everyone else was doing their early 20s. He definitely has a comedic side—I mean, he wrote the lyrics for “Gangsta’s Fairytale,” and that song is comedic, if you will. He definitely has his timing right. It felt natural to be there with him.
Angela Means: I had appeared on Def Comedy Jam three times, got a standing ovation at the Apollo, had just done House Party 3, did Bernie Mac’s pilot, Pearl’s Place to Play, and I was with SOBG, the premiere black management company in the city. I was headlining, I was a host on the black comedy circuit. I knew I could steal the Felisha part because I knew Cube wanted stand-ups. I went in, read for it, and felt really good about it. I knew all of the actors from the comedy community. A week or so after the audition I called my agents and they said, “We passed on that. It’s not for you, Angela. You’re the ‘pretty girl!’” I’m like, “I’m about to be the pretty girl that’s a hood rat, and then I’m going to go have a baby! And I’m a wrap!” I was pregnant at the time.
DJ Pooh: Originally I was playing Smokey. A lot of the character was based on stuff that went on in my life. I sold weed when I was young and was unsuccessful because I was also a connoisseur. I’d be like, “I’m just gonna smoke this sack right here, but if I break this sack down I can get the money back.” It was a horrible idea.
Ice Cube: New Line felt I had screen experience but Pooh didn’t have as much, so they didn’t want him to play Smokey. Pooh was like, “Man, how we going to let New Line come in and tell us how to put this movie together?” A million dollars is the reason why, shit! [Laughs.] They ain’t fuck with us on nothing but the cast, so we had to play ball to a certain degree. We had to find another co-star.
DJ Pooh: One day we were sitting around watching Def Comedy Jam and we saw Chris [Tucker] perform and me and Cube couldn’t stop laughing. We thought, “This dude would be able to play the hell out of Smokey. Let’s see if we can get him to come in and read for him.” And that’s what happened and it was over like that.
Kim Hardin: Smokey was the most challenging role to cast, because someone had to have the energy to bounce off the calm demeanor that Cube has. Cube was laid-back with his comedy. I probably auditioned everybody who was on the [black comedy] circuit at the time for the role of Smokey. None of them were hitting what I knew Cube and Gary Gray were looking for. I had just hired Chris Tucker to do one scene opposite Eddie Griffin in The Walking Dead, so I brought Chris in and the first time he auditioned for me, he was horrible. It was a combination of things: He had just come off the road from doing a couple of stand-up gigs, hadn’t read the script, and at the time he didn’t know that comedians can improv, put their own thing on whatever the dialogue is. I knew Chris could do better. When a person isn’t prepared, they can’t do their best job. I allowed him to prepare and come back. Any other casting director may have been like, “You were horrible. Next!”
Faizon Love: Chris was frustrated. He had lost some roles to D.L. Hughley and some other comedians. He was like, “Fuck this shit.” He half-heartedly went through the audition and didn’t do good the first time. He didn’t give a fuck. He was like, “Man! Ain’t nobody going to go see an Ice Cube movie!” His exact words. I’m like, “Are you crazy, motherfucker?!”
Angela Means: Chris Tucker and I were comics in Atlanta together, coming up at the same time, and I always looked at him as my little brother, like a responsibility. I heard through the grapevine that they basically wrote the [Smokey] part for him. He goes in for his audition and they tell him to come back, to go study, get a coach, whatever. He called me from a payphone and was like, “Ang, I need your coach. They said to go away, that I wasn’t ready.” I was like, “Nigga, that’s your part! You don’t need no coach, they want you! What happened?” He goes, “I don’t know, man!” I was like, “Just get over here, and bring all of your material!” Me, Faizon, and A.J. had our jobs—it was just Chris left. We were all a clique and Chris didn’t have his part, so I told Faizon that Chris needed our help. I put a big pot of spaghetti on the stove and Chris and Faizon came over. We kept saying, “Say the line! What do you think when you say that line?! When you hear the line, what does the line mean?! Now say something else! Say it, nigga, just say that shit! Say another line!”
Faizon Love: That’s when we got the whole twitching shit. I said, “You should still be twitching from all that [sherm]. ’Cause you so fucked up from that shit.”
Angela Means: By the time that spaghetti was gone, Chris was Smokey.
Faizon Love: He got that shit, then he went back in and nailed it.
Ice Cube: I wanted Chris. He had that funny stand-up on Def Comedy Jam and New Line had just put him in House Party 3 but he was underused in that movie. New Line suggested other actors, people off of In Living Color but I was like, “Nah, we need a new fresh face.”
F. Gary Gray: If you look at Pooh play Smokey in the tapes, he was hella funny. I just felt like Chris was a perfect fit with Cube. I go for authenticity. There have been times in my career where I hired real killers and thugs, and the moment you roll the camera it’s like a deer in headlights. They can’t even be themselves. Chris’ brilliance is that he shines when the lights are on. We saw Tommy Davidson, who was hella funny too, and there was talk about Chris Rock playing Smokey because he had kind of a bigger name, but Chris Rock is very New York. Although Chris [Tucker] is from Georgia, he had kind of an L.A. vibe, so we just rolled the dice and scored. His instincts are amazing, and as much as I could want to take credit for Friday, I wouldn’t. Friday is Friday because of Chris Tucker.
Ice Cube: Even Pooh will tell you that Chris blew that shit out the water. Ultimately it was the best move.
DJ Pooh: Red was such a smaller role than Smokey. Cube said to me, “It’s a small role, but it’s as small or as big as you make it.” At first, I was like, “Ah, this nigga. Cut that big-and-small shit out,” ’cause I got a small role. But it was dope, it was perfect. He was right. And every actor that we went out to get, we basically got. We were working with some veterans, some legends, and we also had the opportunity to work with some new talent because New Line didn’t make us go get the biggest black actor to get the film off the ground.
"[Chris Tucker] half-heartedly went through the audition
and didn’t do good the first time. He didn’t give a f***.
He was like, 'Man! Ain’t nobody going to
go see an Ice Cube movie!' His exact words."
Anna Maria Horsford: I was doing Amen at the time. I auditioned and one of the producers, Andre Robinson, said, “I was shocked when you said you would come in!” I asked why and he said, “Because you’re on a hit show.” Well, this seemed like fun. I heard afterward that I wasn’t their first choice before I auditioned. They had somebody else in mind and she couldn’t make it. So, by default, I got it. I know, I know. But to be honest, I didn’t know Ice Cube’s songs when I went in.
Tiny Lister: I auditioned for the [Deebo] role after I became Zeus in the WWF. I was already bigger than life as Zeus, wrestling Hulk Hogan in the movie No Holds Barred. I used to get real death threats from the white world. They saw this big black guy from Compton and Vince McMahon promoted that I was a killer and a gangster. He needed to sell pay-per-views, so since I’m from Compton, he took the negative things about Compton and used them to scare the white WWF public. Zeus was larger than life. I was the biggest black character actor in Hollywood but I had to prove it to Pat Charbonnet, who was producing the movie with Ice Cube. Me and Nia Long went in together. Pat didn’t know how big I was at the time. It took Gary Gray to make sure I got the role, because he knew the influence I already had. He knew how powerful and famous I was.
F. Gary Gray: I fought for [Tiny] because his audition was off. Some of the stuff the producers were concerned about was stuff I was concerned about. There were some people that were nervous about what he would deliver. I wasn’t sure how Tiny’s performance was gonna come off. It’s those times when we didn’t understand what he was saying. He would say “argooing” [arguing] or “whoostle” [whistle], and I was like, will the audience understand what the fuck just came out of his mouth? It was funny to us but I was trying to communicate a moment or a scene in the sequence and if you didn’t understand what he was saying, you could lose an entire plot point. I was nervous about that, but Tiny is from Compton, big as hell, and he understands the culture. For us, it was just about what’s funny, what’s authentic.
Faizon Love: Back then, I hated auditioning. I would only do it if I was in character and they called me by the character’s name. When I came in the door, I was Big Worm, smoking a joint and talking shit. [Casting director] Kim Hardin was there, she was a pretty lady. Her feet were fucking gorgeous, I just wanted to fuck her feet. I was talking about how gorgeous her feet were. I walked out of there and they were like, “Yeah, you got it.”
Kim Hardin: There was a whole thing with Mrs. Parker, who lives across the street and waters her lawn. I watched The Price Is Right and thought Kathleen [Bradley] was a beautiful woman, so I brought her in.
Kathleen Bradley: I was on The Price Is Right, as one of “Barker’s Beauties.” I was actually the first black Barker Beauty.
Kim Hardin: I was so glad [Cube and Gary] liked her. She was perfect. Because they were going to be like “Daaaamn!” when she’s bending over, she had to do that in the audition. She came in for Gary and he really wanted her to accentuate, just bend down low. I was like, really?!
F. Gary Gray: I know we picked the right person. I’m sure to this day Kathleen can’t go anywhere without someone saying, “Heyyy, Ms. Parker,” which I’m sure is a gift and a curse.
Kim Hardin: Then the midget! We hired [Tony Cox] from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka because he played one of the midgets under the big hats. I brought him in for the audition, he did good. I brought in several midgets, but he’s the one that stood out, because he had more experience.
A.J. Johnson: Tommy Davidson was supposed to be Ezal but didn’t end up doing it. Cube called me up and said he and DJ Pooh had a part for me in this movie. He asked if I wanted to play a crackhead. I said, “Yeah, no problem!” [Laughs.] When I first seen the script, I didn’t think the movie was going to do well. I’m thinking, “Who’s going to come see a movie about two dudes sitting on a porch smoking weed?” I was trying to make the best of that from the jump.
Kim Hardin: Meagan Good came to my office to drop off her picture and resumé. She was scared and shy and said, “Hi, ma’am, I just wanted to drop off my picture and I hope you bring me in for an audition.” She read for me and I brought her back to read for Gary. He liked to give his notes to the casting director to redirect to the actor. His note to me was: “Tell her to do it again, but this time say a curse word.” Mind you, she’s like 13 at the time, so I told Gary that it wasn’t cool to make her do that. We still gave her the part. That was her first speaking role in a film. In one of my classes, Meagan later said she was thankful that I protected her from having to curse at her age for her first movie. I felt like tearing up and shit.
Faizon Love: Back then, there weren’t a lot of projects for black actors. We was just paying our rent, to tell you the truth. If anybody tells you they was doing this movie because they wanted to work on their fucking acting, they are fuckin’ bullshitting.
Patricia Charbonnet: The moment Gary walked on that set—even during pre-production and casting—he was a consummate professional at a very young age. With the atmosphere of clowning and fooling around, Gary was a serious anchor, like an old soul who knew that, in spite of all this camaraderie, there was a film that had to be delivered at the end of the day, and his neck was on the line. We absolutely, unequivocally believed in him and his ability to pull it off, which is why we chose him as director. You have just so much energy crackling, and at age 24 Gary had an astounding ability to steer that ship to shore.
F. Gary Gray: I was totally nervous, I had 20 days to shoot a movie. I’m glad I was naive back then. I didn’t know 20 days wasn’t enough time to shoot a movie. I just did what came natural because I didn’t go to film school and I didn’t have experience making feature films.
Patricia Charbonnet: How are we going to get it done and delivered to New Line in 20 days, not really having any money? This was an extremely low-budget film at the time. A lot of money was spent on food trucks, food stations. The thought was, just have so much food around, make it good, and when people are feeling like, “Why am I still doing this?” they’ll have something good to eat and they’ll still want to be there.
F. Gary Gray: When you don’t have a lot of money to pay people, you better feed them right. We fed them right.
John Witherspoon: With Friday, I didn’t make $5,000. There was no money made on that. It was all fun and getting to know each other. We were deep in the hood, too. I don’t smoke weed or anything like that, so I didn’t hang around to get any weed, but they would smoke weed.
Shawn Barton: I didn’t want to make anyone look like a caricature or a cliché. They’re all based on real people. Pretty much all of the clothes came from the Slauson Swap Meet. They knew me, like, “You’re getting clothes for Friday, right? Tell Cube I rap.” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do that after I get these flannels.”
Faizon Love: I knew exactly the look I wanted for Big Worm. Back in the day, dudes used to go get perms. Prince had the same perm. Billy Dee had a perm in Star Wars. Lionel Richie had a perm. Then I wore mine, like I was going to have one of the great perms. Somebody gotta bring it back.
F. Gary Gray: The Orange Crush lowrider that Big Worm drives was famous in the hood. It was like a rolling billboard for Los Angeles. Our transportation person tracked it down because we thought it was a car that a guy who sells weed and rolls with rollers in his hair would drive. Something with so much personality captured who Big Worm was immediately. You know who that guy is if he’s driving that car. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a dope car, but it definitely says, “I’m a specific type of person. Don’t fuck with me.” It worked perfectly for his character.
Faizon Love: I’m the one who brought the lowrider around and dudes were like, “Aw, man, that’s the kind of car you using?” And the neighbors were like, “Let me show you mine!” The orange lowrider belonged to this guy named Blaze. He was from the neighborhood. He later sold that car to Japan. Then Blaze got murdered.
Shawn Barton: For Smokey’s character, Chris had on a blue T-shirt, blue hat, and blue Chuck Taylors. We shot in South Central, and being born and bred a South Central girl, I was sensitive to neighborhoods. I didn’t put him in that suit to make it that he was a gang member or anything like that. I chose a lot of these darker colors because when you’re dealing with lighter colors, like white and tans, it’s a little harder for continuity to match, like when there’s a sweat stain. I chose darker colors so it wouldn’t be an issue for me. I probably would have had him in all-black, but the blue came in because of lighting and night shooting and Chris’ darker skin tone.
F. Gary Gray: I spotted Smokey’s convertible Ford Pinto when I was driving down the street. I told my transportation guy to find this broken-down car off of Western Avenue, find who owns it, and put it on a flatbed, or tow it to the block. I saw that shit and I was like, that’s an instant joke. That should be Smokey’s car. I loved it because it was a convertible Pinto—probably the only one that existed on planet Earth. That car never drove right. All the guys pushed it during the scenes it was in. The engine sputtering? All sound effects. We had to put license plates on it; it wasn’t even registered. That shit should be in a museum right now. The alarm thing wasn’t in the script. I did that in post-production. Chris just waved and I put an alarm sound effect on that. I did the same thing to Red’s car. I thought it would be funny if those piece of shit cars had alarms on them. The “chirp chirp” was an extra joke.
"We had a couple of drive-bys around the corner
but not on our set. When you’re shooting in
South L.A. and Compton, you gotta deal with
what you gotta deal with."
—F. Gary Gray
Shawn Barton: I took inspiration for the look of Felisha from around the ’80s, when we moved from South Central. One of the reasons why my mom moved away from there was when crack started taking over. We saw some of our neighbors get into that world. In that day, they were called “strawberries,” and a strawberry was a girl who would prostitute or do things for drugs. Their clothes would look like they were wearing someone else’s clothes and they would look a mess. I liked styling [Angela Means as Felisha] because she was a challenge as far as making her look bad; I had to turn this gorgeous girl into someone that was not so hot. But Gary would still say she looked too pretty. I was like, how do I this? Men’s clothing that was the only way.
F. Gary Gray: We shot it in South Central, so there was gonna be a lot of gang activity, but there was really only one neighbor who was an asshole, the kind who would scream during some of the takes. For the most part everybody was respectful.
Angela Means: We were rolling with Cube, who was hip-hop royalty. We were with hood royalty in the hood in the mid ’90s. It was lovely. Everyone was cool except for one dude who would get drunk, even during the day, and shout, “Fuck y’all! Fuck you, motherfucker! I’m a star! This is my neighborhood! This is my house! Fuck you! All you motherfuckers don’t mean shit! Don’t give a fuck about no Ice-T!”
Anna Maria Horsford: “This ain’t no real movie! If it were, you wouldn’t be shooting here!” He would carry on, and then I guess they gave him an extra $25 and he would go back inside and shut up. His poor wife was so embarrassed.
Ice Cube: It’s fun for the first few days, until the neighborhood gets mad at you. They can’t walk up the street ’cause you got the shit blocked off, Mom can’t pick up the groceries, all that stuff.
Tiny Lister: When I played the Deebo character I’d become the character, so when they say cut, I didn’t ever cut. Even in South Central, the streets loved me because I’m from Compton. I would ride the bicycle and chase the fans around—it would be like 500 fans around the set every day. It might be up to a thousand sometimes. The audience loved us so much. They played like I was the baddest guy in the world. [Laughs.] They know I’m not a gangbanger, they know I like milk and cookies. They knew we loved them and they gave us love back. It was beautiful, but at the same time you keep your eyes open. There were fans around us who were just as bad as Deebo for real!
John Witherspoon: We had the Crips gang on the outskirts there. They were kids and they were nice and we all took pictures with them.
A.J. Johnson: The Crips were all cool. We were out all night, and they were out all night with us. The whole neighborhood was out. Gary Gray told them to be quiet when we finna shoot, and they’d be quiet. Wasn’t nobody making no noise. They see something funny and when they say cut, they all started laughing.
F. Gary Gray: We had a couple of drive-bys around the corner but not on our set. When you’re shooting in South L.A. and Compton, you gotta deal with what you gotta deal with.
DJ Pooh: We were shooting on the block, and we needed some kids to go to Big Worm’s ice cream truck. And when I see Meagan Good walking down I asked, “Hey, little girl, you wanna be at the ice cream truck in the movie? Get your mom to sign the papers and come down here.” Next thing you know, she’s an actress.
Faizon Love: Chris was like my little brother. We drove to set together. We had a little raggedy Jetta that we shared. We would smoke weed on the way.
Nia Long (via AV Club): I bought myself a BMW. It was so cute. I was shooting Friday at the time, and Chris Tucker and I saw each other on the freeway, on the way to the set. I was going [Waves, imitates honking.] “Toot, toot!” in my car. He had a busted window with a pizza box over it because he couldn’t afford to fix the window! We get to work and he goes, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”
DJ Pooh: It never felt like work, we were just having a good time. Chris and I shared a trailer. We’d get there in the morning, light one up, and start the day. It was like part of the movie.
Ice Cube: We improvised probably 65 percent. It was that kind of movie.
Faizon Love: I didn’t use anything that was in the script, but they liked it. Me and Chris flipped our shit. I got that line “Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions,” from a Peabo Bryson song, “Feel the Fire.” All of us just made our characters our own. You have to.
Paula Jai Parker: I’d lived in Washington D.C. when I was going to college and I had seen girls that reminded me of Joi. The blonde dookie braids became popular and, Lord, those nails. I did the nails, I created those and put those on. I don’t know where I got that from. I was just young and inspired.
Patricia Charbonnet: Probably the person who worked the hardest was the script supervisor when it came to lines. John Witherspoon always said his lines one way, then the next day he said them another way, then the next day he said it a different way. It wasn’t always the same, it was free-flowing and fluid. Actors like Chris Tucker were allowed to display their own comedic skills. That’s why the freedom that existed on the set shows up so easy on the film, and it makes people feel like they could be there.
F. Gary Gray: A one-page scene could stretch to two pages after all the ad-libbing. Then you end up having a four-hour movie. I would tell them, “Hey, I want you to improvise, but I want you to be at least conscious of time.”
Patricia Charbonnet: Chris Tucker was like an electrical storm, every single day. He was also a difficult person for the script supervisor. When he went into improv, he was unstoppable, so the pressure was on and stuff had to be rewritten all of the time since there was so much electricity flowing on set. When he would break out into an improvisational piece, or even John Witherspoon, Gary just managed all of those competing energies so well.
Angela Means: Chris wasn’t originally in the “You got knocked the fuck out!” scene. That shows you how on fire Chris was. He just ran in and said, “You got knocked the fuck out!” Every single take that Chris Tucker did you had to hold your laugh, even if it was just a pickup line.
Chris Tucker (via 1994 Interview): You know in the neighborhood when you get in a fight, get beat up, there’s always somebody that comes over. They don’t ask you if you need help. They be like, “Man, God, you got your butt kicked. Man, he knocked you out!” Like you don’t know what happened. You was right there, you were the one that got knocked out, he’s telling you how you got knocked out. So I was just trying to bring that to the screen, man, let people see that this is what goes down in the neighborhood everyday. The good side of South Central, not what they see on the news.
DJ Pooh: They had a trampoline out there and some big heavy cushion bags that stunt guys normally fall on. So they do the [Deebo] punch and I jump back off the thing in the air and land on the bag. I was stoked, like, “I can do my own stunts! I got this!” Then I jumped, missed the corner of that bag, and landed on my tailbone and my elbow. We did that scene about seven, eight times.
Ice Cube: Bernie was always the realest. He always had the best advice. He didn’t talk a lot but when he did it was always potent. He’d say stuff like “You hesitating a lot,” as we’re sitting there trying to figure out what we’re going to shoot next. Bernie was an underused talent. I was so happy when he was down to do it and then he came and got busy.
John Witherspoon: Bernie Mac was hilarious, boy. The reverend, he was funny. And the lady across the street with the big breasts.
Tony Cox: Running across that street wore me out. Gary was like, “Man, I want that energy! I want energy!” Man, my little stump legs were wearing out. I was so glad when that scene was over with. My legs were shaking. I’ve never been through anything like that. That’s the most I’ve ever run in my life. That’s like a whole year of walking for me. I kissed the ground when it was over.
Faizon Love: We were all in honeywagons, which is unheard of now. They’re these little dressing rooms that they normally put actors who are just beginning in. Pooh, me, Chris, Nia, and Angela Means were all on the steps of our honeywagon sharing a joint one day and I was like, “Damn, this would be a dope-ass picture.”
A.J. Johnson: Michael Clarke Duncan was an extra shooting dice. Nobody knew him! Everybody on that set was brand new! Wasn’t nobody really big but Ice Cube.
Anna Maria Horsford: Cube’s mother came on the set and said he always wanted to be in the business since he was a little boy. She was so impressed with me—I was one of black people’s superstars then because Amen was out—but I said, “No, this is all your son.” She looked at him and said, “Do you know who this is?” and he said, “Yeah, ma.” [Laughs.] I was like, “Wait a minute, your son did all of this! This is his movie!”
John Witherspoon: I had my character in my head. I looked at my uncles, my daddy, and all the rest of the people that I know, them old crazy dudes. In the script, they first had that we had eggs and bacon for breakfast. But I told them you gotta say all the chitlins, all the collard greens, all the pigs feet, all the hog balls.
F. Gary Gray: When Witherspoon came in, you knew he was going to give you something brilliant. Even shooting the bathroom sequence, as crass as it was. We put a chewed Snickers bar in the toilet for effect, so when Cube walked in we showed him this fake turd. I’m not much into the toilet humor but it’s low-hanging fruit with Witherspoon. We just put our foot on the gas pedal.
Angela Means: During the scene where Craig says “Bye, Felisha,” Gary was going to break down the set and do a reverse shot of me. I was supposed to walk up to the porch where Chris and Cube were and face the camera when I spoke to them, like everyone else did. I was like, no. If Felisha is going to invade people’s space, then she is going to invade people’s space. She’s oblivious to personal space and boundaries. I told Gary, “Why don’t we just save a whole hour and let Felisha’s ass just sit down in between them?” Neither Cube or Chris knew I was going to sit down, and when I did Chris wasn’t even acting, he was like, “DAMN!” He was pissed at me. [Laughs.] It made the scene better, and broke up the monotony of everyone coming to the porch. Her sitting down was a moment that we found together. Not that it was that big a deal, but it did save like a good hour, and it created that scene, the three sitting on the porch like that.
A.J. Johnson: When Ezal sees Craig and Smokey, I was only supposed to ask for two dollars, but I ad-libbed and made up so much stuff, like jumping on the car and falling in the store. Gary loved it so much he kept it in there. My brother and sister were on crack, so I was just thinking about them and the stuff they did. When you think of them, it’s easier to think of some crackhead stuff.
F. Gary Gray: We had to shoot that store scene fast. We were off the 126th St. campus. Anything off of that block was “off campus,” so we had to deal with the elements. It was an area that was a cross section for a lot of gangs. Cube was a huge star, and with being a huge star in Los Angeles from the streets, comes street politics. To drive down Normandie towards 126th St., past El Segundo and into different neighborhoods, with this camera, car, and lights, we had to have armed security follow us, because we just didn’t know what was gonna happen. We didn’t know what the reaction was going to be. While we had a lot of love in my neighborhood, you just don’t know if that love extended outside of that neighborhood. So when we shot the store scene, we were in another part of town. We had no issues, but it was something we were aware of.
"I heard of people naming their animals
and their kids Deebo.
There’s so many white people that
name their animals and their kids that."
A.J. Johnson: When it came to making something up, if I went somewhere, Chris came right there with me. When I called to him, “You behind there taking a shit?” he was like, “Don’t tell nobody.” I was like, “Man, don’t worry about it,” but of course then I told everybody, “Hey, Smokey back there taking a shit!” I wasn’t supposed to do none of that. My father was in the theatre business and he always taught me, when the camera’s on you, make sure you go as big as you can.
F. Gary Gray: I directed my part [at the store]. I’d put a stand-in there, take his place, and when it was done, take a look at the performance and determine how bad it was and then take the lesser of the evils and move on.
John Witherspoon: Gary had to deal with all these comics tryna change the lines and saying, “I wanna say this,” or “I don’t wanna say this.” He was very professional with that. He got everybody comfortable and everybody shot their scenes. They were happy to do them because of Gary and Cube. Everybody wants to be happy with Cube, because Cube is cool.
F. Gary Gray: When you have brilliant people around, you get moments like “Bye, Felisha” and “DAAAAMN!” and all that stuff. You can’t write that. That just comes in the moment out of the electricity of all the artists and their collaboration. I love having my guys improv because it’s natural and authentic. But when you’re dealing with a comedian’s instinct to perform on 10 at every moment, sometimes that interferes with what you have in mind and the rhythm and the pacing in telling the story. Sometimes you’d have to convince a performer to tone it down just to preserve the sequence, to not swing for the fence in this moment because it’s going to negatively affect everything around it. When you’re 24 years old, you’re not quite sure how to articulate that. It can come off a certain way and can be misunderstood.
Tiny Lister: I thought F. Gary Gray was somebody special. He was the new eager director, but he had his ear to the streets. He knew what was going on in the streets, and knew what they wanted. He was from the street we shot on. He came along at the right time, it was another young black director being born.
Angela Means: I remember Gary wrestling with profanity and asking me to tone it down. Then it turned into Chris’ film and he ran with it. Gary wanted to scale the profanity back, because it had become every other word. He was like, “Guys, we’re better than this.”
F. Gary Gray: A lot of times they said I was serious. I was just focused on the scene we were shooting and making sure I was prepared to answer questions. I was making sure people felt like I knew what I was doing. I was a little self-conscious about that, but like anything else it’s a learning experience. You don’t know what you know until you do it. And I had my moments where I laughed with my team.
Faizon Love: Chris was always fucking around with Gary. At that time, Gary looked like one of the members of New Edition, so we would call him “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mikey, and Gary too.” We would sit in the back of the van just fucking with Gary and he would be like, “Take me seriously! I’m the director!” Like, yeah, right. It was fun because Gary would fire us every day. We were like kids in little league, like Bad News Bears. We were supposed to respect this director, and he was the first one we went after.
Angela Means: When Gary put the “F” in front of his name, we were on the shuttle bus going somewhere and Chris kept saying, “Eff Gary Gray! I said, eff Gary Gray!”
F. Gary Gray: That still happens to this day. That’s one of the ways that they would fuck with me, take the initial and fill in the blank. Tucker just naturally targeted everybody. Everybody was picked on, everybody was fair game. It’s what gets you through those long days. People would bag on each other and Tiny was a big target. The name “Tiny,” as big as he is, and he can only see out of one eye and he’s loud…. But he’s like a teddy bear. He did the bully thing on the set but it was all funny to us. We would all talk about each other and that was just our way to say, “I got love for you, man.” If I talk about you, I’m fucking with you. If I’m quiet, you probably got something to worry about.
Tony Cox: What made it so much fun is that you had all of these comedians. People were going after people. Chris was going after Tiny. I was getting into it with Tiny. Chris was doing the same stuff he would do in the movie, behind Tiny’s head. Tiny was like, “I’ll hurt you!” Chris would say, “How can you hurt me? If I get on that bad eye side, you can’t see nothing. I’ll wrap you up.” We were all out there shooting night scenes, laughing at 2 and 3 in the morning and they were trying to get us to keep the noise down because people were sleeping. But that shit was funny. Everybody was cracking on everybody. That’s the most fun that I’ve ever had. I couldn’t wait to get to work. I’ve never felt like that.
A.J. Johnson: Bernie Mac was the funniest. When those cameras went off Bernie stayed on. Bernie Mac had everybody laughing on that set. Singing, cracking jokes, running around playing with people. If it was time to eat, he’d make up songs about it’s time to eat. He was incredible. Anything he said came out funny.
Faizon Love: It was pretty much a functioning set, just with us idiots working.
F. Gary Gray: I wish the fight sequence was a little better. There are a couple of things I would improve. There are moments where the fight didn’t feel as real as I wanted it to. I’ve always wanted to do action, so that was my moment to shine, and it felt a little staged. They’re lumbering around with garbage cans and bricks and I didn’t get the coverage I wanted to. Then you have the challenge of Tiny coming from the wrestling world and people associating [the fakeness of] wrestling with the scene. I wanted it to turn up. It felt a little slow. I just didn't have enough time.
Anna Maria Horsford: When Deebo pulled out the knife to go after my character’s son, I told Gary she can’t stand there and watch someone try to kill her child and not jump in. That’s your instinct as a mother. Gary came back 10 minutes later and said, “OK, you go for him but let John [Witherspoon] hold you back.” That’s when John says, “Let him be a man, let him be a man,” and I respond, “I don’t care if he’s a man or not, I’m not going to stand here and watch him hurt him.” I was glad that stayed in the film. It’s in the little moments that you have to be so clear in the people you’re portraying because you have a responsibility to the people who are watching.
John Witherspoon: The lesson about not using weapons made it a bit more serious for my character. You put yourself in the same place as the father. You just found a gun on your son. If this neighborhood’s so bad, I’d never have moved here. I told him use fists. You kids are weak, sissified. So use your fists, live to fight another day. That was poignant, and helped the film.
F. Gary Gray: With all my work, as it relates to the streets, there’s the element of how we need to think about our practices and come together. In Friday, I wish there was more of a transition to that message. It seems the movie crashes into that moment. You’re experiencing all these fun moments and then all of a sudden there’s this message. It grounds the movie but the execution is inelegant.
Shawn Barton: Between Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, I had like a hundred pairs of black and blue Converse that I gave away at the end of shooting. I was like the Converse peddler.
F. Gary Gray: All the music in the movie is music Cube and I grew up with. On Saturday, when we had to do our chores, my mom would throw on ’70s soul and it just felt warm. When you grow up poor, all you have is your friends, your family, and music.
Patricia Charbonnet: When Gary dropped the music into the film it was a fantasy soundtrack. You can drop in all the great music that you want to, but if that film is going to be released, someone has to pay for it to be in the film. Toby Emmerich of New Line was such a believer that he put up so much money to allow us to have all of the music in that film. I will never forget that because Gary delivered a film with this music in it, and there was no money whatsoever to buy any of these songs.
F. Gary Gray: When I showed the first cut to Chris and Cube, they didn’t like it. The first cut was long and I learned a lot, but after I watched it, I didn't know if I’d ever work again.
Faizon Love: When we first saw it, Chris thought that it sucked. He was like, “What the fuck is this bullshit?” He thought we’d never work again.
F. Gary Gray: Then when we played it for our audience it was like, “Oh yeah, this movie is good.”
Faizon Love: They sent Chris and me to Howard University to premiere it. We go there and we watch it and we’re like, “Ay, let’s get the fuck out of here before the movie ends.” As we’re leaving, the lady that’s running it stops us, like, “Where you guys going?” We hear the crowd erupt, like “Aaahhhh!” We were like, “Damn, do they want their money back? What the fuck?” They loved the movie—they started clapping and wanted us to sign autographs.
Anna Maria Horsford: My manager went to a screening and he told me, “Anna, this is going to be a hit. They were rolling in the aisle.” I asked, “Was it that funny?” When I saw it, all I could do was look at my hips, how big they were.
Ice Cube: We knew we had something. It wasn’t really understood by mainstream media but it was accepted by the hood. We were in a space that people rarely get in with neighborhood comedies. It was a proud moment. Everybody thought that I was Mr. Neighborhood Terror and all I could do was talk about all the bad shit that was going on. Coming out with a movie like Friday, to me, was like the vindication of coming out with a song like “It Was a Good Day,” showing that Ice Cube ain’t no animal.
Faizon Love: The premiere at Mann’s [Chinese Theater] was crazy! All of Cube’s kids were babies and I held one of them. The whole auditorium was weed. It was smoked out. It. Was. Smoked. Out.
DJ Pooh: I barely remember the premiere, I just remember that somebody with me got the L.A. Times and said, “Man, they dissed your movie.” The review was like, “If you’re into watching a predominantly black film with everybody sitting around on the porch smoking weed, then this film is for you.” He talked bad about it. I was mad as hell. But people were like, “Oh shit, sitting in the house and niggas smoking weed? That’s my shit!” I think niggas flocked out, they helped out.
"It’s annoying that Chris Tucker doesn’t want
to be associated with this character again.
It’s ridiculous ’cause [Smokey] made him.
He wasn’t doing that much before that."
F. Gary Gray: I didn't read reviews, but I heard. We didn’t go into this movie thinking we might get an Oscar nomination. It’s not Oscar bait. It feels good, it’s a guilty pleasure. You can let your hair down. I read an interview with Michael Jordan and the interviewer asked what his favorite movie was. He said Friday, and the interviewer hadn’t heard of it. Jordan said, “And you call yourself a film critic?”
Ice Cube: It didn’t make a lot of box office noise. It made $20–24 million in the box office.
F. Gary Gray: In terms of return on investment, it was one of the most profitable films of 1995. The industry was surprised. It’s this little movie that came out of nowhere and it was No. 2 at the box office. It was only in a small amount of theaters but the per-screen average was really high.
Faizon Love: The movie was a huge bootleg on the street before it came out. We didn’t know the extent of it. After we got our checks, we knew. It was a means to pay your rent. We didn’t know bootlegging was a downfall for film and television or we would’ve kicked them people’s asses, like “Motherfucka!” But we were living the dream. Best pussy ever. We were great. This is the kind of guy Chris is: While we were filming, there was this hot truck out called a Land Cruiser—it was like the Rolls-Royce back then. Chris and I didn’t have no money, so we were going from dealership to dealership test driving it. [Laughs.] When Chris got his first check—I don’t know what it was—he came to my apartment and he had the truck. He drops me the keys and he’s like, “You drive.” Because we used to share a car and that’s how our relationship was.
Angela Means: We knew it was Chris Tucker’s breakout.
Kim Hardin: I had no idea that it was going to do as well as it did—and cross over. It crossed over as far as people of all races could relate to the subject matter and think it was funny.
Angela Means: I’m a country girl, I’m from a 175-acre farm, dirt road, and I have no star thing about me. When Friday first came out, people would come up to me. I ran into Malcolm-Jamal Warner and the first thing out of his mouth was: “Gary freaked it! Gary freaked it!” and I was like, “Didn’t he?! Gary freaked that motherfucker!” I was in a grocery store right after, with my little baby, and a group of girls bombarded me. They were loud, and there were a lot of them jumping up and down, and they were saying, “It’s the crackhead! It’s the crackhead!” I was like, “Don’t call me a crackhead in front of my baby!” I got put out of a mall in Ontario because they said I was creating a commotion. I told them I was just shopping but they said I had to go. I obeyed. I’m not a gangster, I’m a country girl; I learned how to drive on a tractor. [Laughs.]
Ice Cube: It made its noise on DVD. That’s when it really started getting heavy.
John Witherspoon: People pulled [VHS and DVD copies] off the shelves and wouldn’t return them when they rented them.
Ice Cube: When the mainstream did eventually understand Friday, people started to try to emulate it in a lot of ways. When I saw There’s Something About Mary, I was like, “Damn, that’s a lot like the middle of Friday right there.” It had the same flavor. I started seeing people pluck a little bit from it—you know you doing the right thing when you see that.
Faizon Love: There were a plethora of roles afterward. The ’90s was a movie every week. It was abuzz. Television shows, all kinds of shit. It was a different time. In the ’90s, the music was growing too. Tupac was always around and Dr. Dre—that’s who we hung out with. I was shooting a television show and Chris called me like, “C’mon, man, we going to shoot a Tupac video” and I’m like “I can’t leave, I’m doing a fucking TV show!” But we got to shoot with Dre when we shot the Friday video for “Keep Their Heads Ringin'.” We shot that in an airplane hangar. That was a party! Dre landed in a helicopter. We was like, “Oh shit!”
A.J. Johnson: It opened a lot of doors for me. Robert Townsend said he seen me in Friday and he loved it, so that’s why he hired me for BAPS. Master P hired me for I Got the Hook Up off of Friday, and then Cube gave me The Players Club from _Friday*.
Paula Jai Parker: I’ve been in over 100 television shows and movies over the last 20 years but no one shows me love as much as the people who love me from my very first film, Friday.
Anna Maria Horsford: Twenty years ago, they weren’t doing a lot of these movies, so being able to document the black middle class was really a delight. In most of the movies that were being done, they didn’t have families. That’s one of the reasons why this one was so welcoming, not just in the black community, but in every community—you saw the characters as whole people. Even in Eddie Murphy movies we didn’t see a family until The Nutty Professor.
Shawn Barton: I would never say Friday is an “important” film. What it’s done is join everyone across the board. I like that it has reached so many demographics. It’s joined us all in ways that I don’t think we thought about while shooting. We were thinking a pocket of people will think this is funny, or a pocket who get high will relate to it.
Tiny Lister: I heard of people naming their animals and their kids Deebo. There’s so many white people that name their animals and their kids that, and they live in different parts of the world—you’d think they wouldn't touch that.
Faizon Love: I didn’t know how big it was until ’99. I was doing a movie in South Africa and this guy who looked like a bushman called me “Big Worm.” I was like, “NO FUCKING WAY! This guy doesn’t look like he’s seen an electric appliance all of his life!”
A.J. Johnson: Kids who weren’t even born when we shot the movie come up to me and say, “Hey, Ezal! My neck! My back! My neck and my back!”
Anna Maria Horsford: Every TSA agent that I run into always asks, “When are you going to do another Friday? We saw a poster online.” They also say, “That’s Cube’s mother!” Yes, I am. I am Ice Cube’s mother. [Laughs.] It’s interesting what you’re known as. I’ve done more than 100 movies and that’s the one that everybody knows. Since Friday, I’ve gotten to play most rappers’ mother. I think that’s God’s joke on me, making me famous for being every rapper’s mother. I say that because I don’t know the rap music. Not that I dislike it, I just can’t talk as fast as they can and I don’t understand the things they’re saying.
"When I saw There’s Something About Mary, I was like,
'Damn, that’s a lot like the middle of Friday right there.'
You know you doing the right thing when you see that."
John Witherspoon: I’m Mr. Jones no matter where I’m at. I said things in that movie I’ll probably die with. “Don’t let anybody go in the bathroom for 35–45 minutes.” People say that when I’m in the airport, and I’m in the airport all the time. When I do my show, that’s the first thing I say when I come out. I do that line and they all repeat it with me. It’s been that way for 20 years.
Angela Means: I found out that #ByeFelicia was trending when my friend called to say congratulations on my son’s first college offer. When we got off of the phone he said, “Bye, Felisha.” I was like, “How ancient are you with that ‘Bye, Felisha’ shit?” and he said, “Dude, #ByeFelicia is trending!” I was like, “Trending? What’s ‘trending’?” He told me to punch in “#ByeFelicia” and see what happens. My jaw dropped. I love the way Keith Olbermann says it.
Tiny Lister: This is what I see with my own eyes—well, I’m blind in one eye, so this is what I see with my working eye: I did a couple of comedy things for Chris Tucker, came on stage as Deebo on a bicycle. At the end of his comedy session, in front of 3,500 to 5,000 people, they were chanting, “Friday! Friday! Friday!” When I go with Ice Cube and watch him perform, at the end of his rap session, they talking about Friday. They not talking about when Chris did the thing with Jackie Chan. They not talking about Ice Cube when he did Three Kings. Michael Jordan wanted to do the second Friday—it was his kids’ favorite movie. When Chris pulled out, I guess he backed out. Deion Sanders wanted to be in Next Friday. Patti LaBelle wanted to play Chris Tucker’s mother.
John Witherspoon: It’s annoying that Chris Tucker doesn’t want to be associated with this character again. It’s ridiculous ’cause [Smokey] made him. He wasn’t doing that much before that. If he doesn’t want to do it because of the marijuana, marijuana is being legalized all over the country. He’s got some contradiction there, because marijuana’s not a big deal anymore.
Faizon Love: Chris is a fucking idiot. He does do sequels—he did 900 Rush Hour movies. I even talked him into doing the first one. People have their own ways. I still love him as a brother but I just can’t talk to him like you can’t talk to an idiot.
Ice Cube: I don’t understand to this day why [Chris] would want to run from something that made him a movie star. But you got to respect somebody wanting a life change. When you bring God into the equation, you can’t say nothing against that.
Chris Tucker (via Sway in the Morning): Friday is a great movie, and I definitely don't regret doing that, and I love that people still love that movie. What I said years ago is to better myself—I’m a perfectionist. I always wanted not to be like every other comedian, and, at the time, just cuss, just to cuss for no reason. I said I want to better myself, and if I do cuss, it’s for a reason and it doesn't take the place of the material or what I'm talking about.
DJ Pooh: I was disappointed that Chris distanced himself but I respect his decision. That’s that man’s life. That’s who that man is, so I respect that. But at the same time, his fans would love to see him back as Smokey in Last Friday. And I think there’s a way to do it where it could still be funny, ’cause Chris is still funny.
Ice Cube: Smokey would be running a little rehab scam these days.
Chris Tucker (via Sway In the Morning): I’m actually trying to help [the studio] come up with some ideas and be a part of the producing process with Cube to see if we can come up with something, so that might happen. If I do a movie like Friday again it has to evolve. I evolved from Smokey when I was that age when I did that movie.
Tiny Lister: It would cost a lot to bring everybody back. Ice Cube’s numbers have changed, Chris’ number have changed. F. Gary Gray’s numbers have changed. All of ours have.
Faizon Love: We’re too old to do another Friday sequel. Ice Cube and I were at the airport six months ago and I asked, “How much do you get asked when we doing another Friday?” and he’s like “Man, every fucking day.” And he’s putting out some good stuff! I can’t see it working right now. Everybody is old and fat. Chris Tucker is my size! [Laughs.]
Ice Cube: It did everything we wanted it to do. We grew up on Car Wash, Let’s Do It Again, Uptown Saturday Night, and Cheech and Chong. We wanted to make a hood classic that people could grow up on and be one of their favorite movies of all time. The movie is alive and kicking and people are still enjoying it like they did 20 years ago. Hearing Zach Randolph from the Memphis Grizzlies being called Zeebo and Stuart Scott quote Friday lines, it was like us saying Scarface lines.
F. Gary Gray: I wasn’t surprised that people liked it, I wasn’t even surprised about the success of it. I am surprised about the legs that it still to this day and the cultural impact that it had on popular culture, the fact that it spawned a franchise. People say “Bye, Felisha” and some people don’t even know where it comes from. For that to ring loudly 20 years later? That was a small moment and it wasn’t even a structured joke! Quotables coming from a process where a bunch of kids got together and made a movie, essentially about the block Cube, Pooh, and I grew up on, that surprises me. When you read the script, you couldn’t say this was a guaranteed hit. We were lucky to have Mike De Luca over at New Line roll the dice, and to have Cube put his career on the line. All the moons and the stars aligned for us on this project.