Like most families, people argue and disagree, but recently “Family Matters” star JoeMarie Payton claimed that some members of the television show’s tribe almost got physical on set.
Payron interviewed with “Entertainment Tonight” as part of the program’s “Mother’s Day celebration of Iconic TV Moms.” The 71-year-old actress, who starred as Harriette Winslow on the hit sitcom for nearly nine seasons, told reporters that fellow cast member and breakout star Jaleel White, who portrayed the memorable Steve Urkel was seemingly still getting used to his stardom and may have played a role in his not so great attitude on set.
“There was one time he actually wanted to physically fight me,” Payton claimed, recalling the season-nine episode, “Original Gangsta Dawg,” in which White also played Steve’s “gangster” cousin, OGD.
Payton said she was against shooting the scene before adding, “I said we can’t do that. Standards and practices will not let that pass; it’s not gonna happen.” However, White reportedly “wanted to do it anyway… He was so mad. He started kicking and screaming and stuff.”
She added, “He said something about, ‘She must want to melee.’ I said, ‘What’s a melee?’ He said, ‘a fight.’ I turned around; if he wanna fight, I would,” the veteran actress continued. “Darius [McCrary] grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind.”
However, in hindsight, Payton said she could now see that White was “just a kid” at the time and still adjusting to his new Hollywood life. She said that she doesn’t give him “all the credit” for his behavior. “I give some of those adults credit, too,” she said. “Letting him run wild and do whatever he wanted to do, thinking he can say what he wants to say, you know, and hurt people’s feelings and all that.”
Last November, White spoke briefly about some of that tension that ensued after he unexpectedly became a more central member of the cast due to the popularity of his character. “My arrival to ‘Family Matters’ was a rocky start at the beginning,” White shared. “[The cast] kind of had to accept that I was there. That was a process.”
Payton agreed at the time, stating that there was some resentment following news that the show’s “dynamic was going to change” after Urkel’s introduction midway through the first season.
“When he came on, [producers] told us the dynamic was going to change, the shows were going to be about him, and we said, ‘OK.,’ We weren’t happy about it,” she admitted. “I think along the way, it got to be a little resentful, but it was just an adjustment that we had to make.”