Family Matters’ Reginald VelJohnson Opens Up About the Difficulty Working With Jaleel White
If you grew up during the ’80s and ’90s, chances are you remember watching the block of shows on Friday nights called TGIF. One of those shows was “Family Matters,” and even writing the title of that show, we can hear the character Steve Urkel asking in his whiny nasal voice, “Did I do that?”
As happens in many sitcoms, the story is centered on a family, and there’s often a neighbor who visits from time to time. We think of the classic “I Love Lucy” with her friends Fred and Ethel living in the same apartment building. We think of “Home Improvement” with the next door neighbor Wilson always hidden behind the fence between the two houses. There are many more examples, but in most cases, the neighbor character or characters does not end up being the focus of the entire show. “Family Matters” was different.
Jaleel White played the character Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.” He was an annoying somewhat nerdy neighbor. It was his breakout role, and he ended up becoming the focus of the show. His character was annoying and quirky, but that added so much humor to the show and made him a star.
While we can all probably agree that Urkel was definitely annoying to his neighbors, what you might find surprising is that White may have been even more annoying on set than the character he played.
It seems that in the early days, when White was not quite yet a star, he was easy enough to work with, but as the show got more popular and the Urkel character made White a superstar, he let the fame go to his head, at least according to Reginald VelJohnson, the actor who played Carl Winslow, the father of the family the show was supposed to be about.
Watch the video below to hear VelJohnson talk about his career, “Family Matters,” and working with White on set.
It seems that it wasn’t just White that made being on set difficult for VelJohnson sometimes. He also explained that it was hard at times being on set with multiple children. He had to lock himself in his dressing room to learn his lines because the child actors had so much energy that he found it difficult to focus when they were around.
Did you watch “Family Matters”? Do you remember the days when the show wasn’t entirely about Steve Urkel?