Many would recognize Reginald VelJohnson from his starring role as police officer and father figure Carl Winslow in the hit ABC sitcom “Family Matters.”
The series followed the Winslow family alongside their neighbor Steve Urkel as they navigated through life in Chicago. “Family Matters,” which aired from 1989 to 1998, also starred Jaleel White, Jo Marie Payton, Kellie Williams and Darius McCrary.
On June 14, during an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” as part of the outlet’s Father’s Day special titled “Iconic TV Dads,” VelJohnson recounted the memories he experienced on the set and revealed how difficult it was to work with his co-star Jaleel White.
VelJohnson explained that although he viewed White as a “wonderful kid,” some instances made him unpleasant. The 69-year-old said, “He was a wonderful kid, [but] I think working with him was a challenge. Working with everybody was a challenge, and there were some moments where he was a little difficult. But overall, I have nothing but good memories from him.”
VelJohnson added that during the series, he would lock himself in a dressing room to rehearse his lines because the child actors, including White, had too much energy, making it hard for him to concentrate.
“I think, you know, a lot of the kids grew up on the set and we had to deal with children… and that was an interesting experience, dealing with children as they grew up,” he said. “I went to my dressing room and locked the door when I [rehearsed] my scenes because that was the only way. Because kids have a lot of energy… [and] you couldn’t deal with it.”
VelJohnson shared that things got so bad during a particular incident with White and the other children that he left the set.
“I remember one incident, he [and] the kids were playing basketball on the set, and I just couldn’t take it. I said, ‘Please, please stop the basketball!’ And they wouldn’t stop. I said, ‘Listen, you either stop the basketball playing or I’m gonna leave.’ And I left. But there was no more basketball after that.”
VelJohnson isn’t the only “Family Matters” star to discuss their challenging work experience with White. Jo Marie Payton, who portrayed the role of VelJohnson’s TV wife Harriette Winslow, disclosed in May in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” that she and White almost got into a physical altercation while shooting an episode.
Although White reportedly tried to provoke Payton to fight by kicking and screaming, she revealed that the event ultimately ended with her co-star Darius McCrary having to grab her so she wouldn’t “whip his behind.”