Chris Tucker became one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors after he played the role of Smokey in “Friday” – the first installment in the film franchise that became a cultural phenomenon and box office hit. In addition to being a breakout role for Tucker, the movie gave the culture many phrases and lingo that remain popular today. Despite the movie being a fan favorite with several sequels, Tucker didn’t play Smokey after the first movie. Now the beloved comedian has revealed another reason he chose to walk away.
“Back then, I gotta tell you, one of the reasons why I didn’t do the second one (was) because of the weed,” Tucker said during an appearance on Flix Talk podcast. “Because I said, ‘Man, that movie became a phenomenon. I don’t want everybody smokin’ weed.’ I never really told people this because I kinda forgot about it, but it was one of the reasons why I didn’t do it … I said, ‘I don’t want to represent everyone smokin’ weed.’ I kinda made it more personal than a movie and that’s one of the reasons why I said, ‘Nah, I didn’t want to keep doing that character.’”
The “Friday” stoner comedy film franchise was created by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh. The action takes place in South Central Los Angeles and follows the experiences of perpetually unemployed Craig Jones. The first film in the franchise, “Friday” (1995), earned a huge cult following. Two sequels, “Next Friday” (2000) and “Friday After Next” (2002) were blockbuster hits.
Tucker, 50, added that his decision to leave the popular franchise likely worked out for the best because he was able to go on and take other roles that were good for his career.
“It probably was good for me because it kept me moving to the next phase, the next movies but that was one of the reasons, I said I didn’t want to get everyone smoking weed, high in the world,” Tucker continued.
People have been wondering for decades why Tucker left the “Friday” franchise or if he’ll return – and he’s answered the question more than once this year. The “Rush Hour” star was raised in a Christian household and, after “Friday,” he said he rededicated himself to his faith and stopped cursing in his comedy routines. His devoutness informed the roles he took, Tucker said.
“I never was a raunchy, raunchy comic but I didn’t think about what I was saying because I was young,” Tucker told The Georgia Straight in a 2014 interview. “Being a Christian helps me in comedy. I have to talk about other stuff. Normally, most comics talk about stuff that’s easy — maybe cussing or saying something raunchy. I have to dig deeper to find something that’s still funny and not raunchy. It’s harder. I like the challenge.”
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In a January interview with Shannon Sharpe, Tucker implied it’s one of the reasons he likely won’t return if the franchise’s scheduled fourth installment – currently titled “Last Friday” – comes to fruition. It is expected to be released in 2022.
“For me personally, I probably won’t (do another Friday) because I never want to shortchange my audience and my fans because I know they want it because that’s what they know and they love it and I’m glad they love it, but I don’t want to come back in something that I probably can’t do what they want me to do because I’ve grown, and not only grown, I’m different,” Tucker said.
“This a whole ‘nother Chris Tucker and you don’t want to shortchange your fans for money … and it’s best to keep that one because I can’t do what I did when I watch Fridays now, I’m like I can’t do that. That was where I was and that was acting but now I’m in my 40s … I could do something even better because (if) you like that character, imagine what I’m gonna do in the future,” Tucker continued.
Fans on Twitter weighed in on Tucker’s confession that an unwillingness to promote weed culture played a role in leaving Smokey behind. They were divided on the subject.
“He’s let all that pseudo religious nonsense wreck him as a comedian and an actor,” @cousins_randal tweeted. “Everyone knows people who smoke weed, people like Smokey because Smokey was hilarious! There was no character ark, he never gave it a chance beyond that first movie because he got wealthy and famous.”
Another Twitter user disagreed. “Nothing wrecked him. He has principles and morals. He is successful , happy, and has no regrets,” @tuchesuavae responded. “Just because how he lives is different than you, doesn’t make it bad. And that’s a poor argument, we all know people that do a lot of things. That doesn’t make it good or bad.”