Article by James McClure, Civilized
The stoner comedy Friday became an instant cult classic when it was released in 1995, but one of its stars didn’t initially see the humour in the film that popularized the phrase “Bye, Felicia.” Chris Tucker – who rose to fame playing the fast-talking pothead Smokey – said he didn’t find the film funny because it was too realistic.
“Everybody grew up with those characters around them,” Tucker – who turns 45 today – told The AV Club in 2007. “Guys sitting around on porches, having a good time, smoking weed, talking about his friend who got fired, and he don’t have a job, and smoked up all his weed by accident, and somebody looking for him. You know, getting in trouble in the neighborhood. Everybody has done that. When I first seen the movie, I said, ‘Man, this movie’s not that funny.’ Yeah, but what did I know?”
Tucker might’ve been off about the film’s reception – but he nailed the intent. According to writer and co-star Ice Cube, “Friday” was written to offer a slice of life in his neighborhood at a time when mainstream movies were presenting urban black communities as war zones.
“At the time, people had looked at South Central like it was hell on earth,” Ice Cube told Rolling Stone in 2015. “We wanted to put it in a movie and show that the neighborhood we grew up in wasn’t this terror zone, it was just this place that had good days, and it had bad days. It was very unpredictable, which made it dangerous – but for the most part, we had fun growing up. So I was like, ‘Yo, we need to show how we do on our street,’ and not make it a horror story.”
So instead, they toned down the violence and ramped up the comedy, including many scenes that were improvised by Tucker’s cannabis-hungry character. But don’t let what you see on the screen fool you. The actor says that filming was serious work. When the AV Club asked if he was high during the shoot, Tucker said, “Naw, naw, I wasn’t. You can’t make a movie high.”