While even dedicated Vanity Fair readers may have missed the profile of former Family Matters star Jaleel White, skipping ahead to read a story about art theft among the barons of England or something, you should go back and check it out. It’s one of those interviews with a subject with nothing to lose (certainly not the box-office of Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer, which White has a small role in) and the sort of gleeful candor that only comes after nearly two decades of people walking up to you going, “Did I do that?” Among the revelations:
- White was thisclose to being The Cosby Show’s Rudy, a role initially written as a boy. In fact, White’s family was already looking for apartments in New York, when at a last-minute “formality” audition, a tiny terror named Keshia Knight Pulliam stole everything from him. Not that White is bitter: “All of these rejections resulted in me making a shitload of money elsewhere.” So don’t worry!
- Speaking of which: “I’m the highest-paid black kid in the history of television, just so you understand that.” And that doesn’t even factor in the proceeds from Urkel-Os.
- In order to “prolong the checks,” White committed himself physically to the “sacrifices” of remaining in peak Urkel condition: “I wasn’t changing my hair; I was staying out of the gym. To be honest, I was retarding my own growth as a man in order to maintain the authenticity to what I thought that character should be.”
- As admirably dedicated as White’s commitment to the “authenticity” of Steve Urkel was, unfortunately, there were still certain things beyond his control: “I was getting network notes on the bulge of my sack! I wore my pants so freaking tight and it was like, after awhile, we got a problem there. So, literally, the last season we loosened up his pants.”
- Still, all of that non-exercise and sack allowances made for what White says was “probably the second-longest-running African American show in the history of television”—although Vanity Fair interviewer Mike Ryan is quick to point out that Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne has most likely overtaken Family Matters. That prompts White—who insists, “I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing Tyler Perry”—to nevertheless diss Tyler Perry by saying, “Making three or four episodes in one week is not the same in terms of production value of what we did, one a week. Technically, I guess he passed us. More power to him, but it might as well be YouTube videos.” [via Movieline and Vulture]