Back in 1995, audiences watching the stoner comedy Friday had no idea just how important this movie would end up being. In addition to kicking off an awesome franchise, this first film helped make many of its stars into household names.
Since premiering nearly three decades ago, two sequels have followed and a fourth movie is (potentially) in the works. While we anxiously await more updates about Last Friday, EW is checking in with the actors to see what they've been up to lately. So, buckle up (and watch out for Deebo) as we take a closer look at where the cast of Friday is now.
Ice Cube (Craig Jones)
O'Shea Jackson Sr., a.k.a. Ice Cube, has been making music since the tender age of 16, and he was already well-known as the lead rapper of N.W.A. when he decided to try his hand at acting. He made a splashy cinematic debut in Boyz n the Hood (1991), a lauded film named after a song he penned in 1987. This laid the groundwork for his seminal role in 1995's Friday, which he also co-wrote and produced. Here, he plays Craig Jones, a cranky, unemployed guy who lives with his parents while dreaming of something better for himself and his neighborhood.
Ice Cube was very determined to get the movie made, and understandably so: After all, this is the project that proved his chops as a filmmaker, and the big box office return didn't hurt either. As one of the film's writers and stars, he found inspiration in funny Hollywood throwbacks such as 1975's Let's Do It Again, telling EW, "The tone of the Friday movies came from this — it's an upbeat reality where the comedy's not over-the-top but is found in the situation."
Since Friday, Ice Cube has achieved one success after another. He made his directorial debut in 1998 with The Players Club, and he helped turn Friday into a major franchise with two additional films. Along the way, he kept making killer music and continued acting in the Barbershop movies, 21 Jump Street (2012), and Ride Along (2014), among other films. He's also made additional strides as a producer, notably working on the 2015 music biopic Straight Outta Compton about his former rap group, N.W.A.
Ice Cube's busy professional life hasn't kept him from finding personal happiness. He had four children with his longtime wife Kimberly Woodruff, telling Access Hollywood that kids "give you a reason to try harder. They make you focus in life on what you're trying to build." His oldest son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., portrayed him in Straight Outta Compton.
Fortunately, fans of Ice Cube won't have to wait long for him to return to the big screen. His upcoming projects include action film The Killer's Game with Dave Bautista and Ben Kingsley and a voice acting role in a new animated adaptation of War of the Worlds.
Chris Tucker (Smokey)
Considering how hilarious he always is on screen, it's no surprise that Chris Tucker began his career as a comedian. He first gained popularity for his frequent appearances on Def Comedy Jam and eventually made his Hollywood debut with the film House Party 3 in 1994. One year later, he starred in Friday as the aptly-named Smokey, a more cheerful (and stoned) counterpoint to Ice Cube's sour character, which opened countless more doors for him in Hollywood.
Despite the success it brought him, Tucker later revealed he was uncomfortable with the marijuana-centric focus of his character, prompting him to pass on reprising the role in the sequels (reportedly on religious grounds as a devout Christian). "One of the reasons why I didn't do the second one was because of the weed," he told All Urban Central in 2021. "I don't wanna represent everybody smoking weed." That said, the actor maintains he'd still consider returning for a potential fourth movie.
Passing on playing Smokey again didn't put a damper on Tucker's career, though, as many offers for other projects kept coming. In 1997 alone, he appeared in Money Talks, The Fifth Element, and Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. The following year, he next starred opposite Jackie Chan in Rush Hour (1998), which quickly became a successful franchise in its own right. He later returned for both Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Rush Hour 3 (2007), and is now looking forward to filming Rush Hour 4. In the meantime, the star has notably acted in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and the recent Nike bio-drama Air (2023).
In 1997, Tucker married Azja Pryor, with whom he shares two sons. The couple later divorced in 2003.
Tommy Lister Jr. (Deebo)
As a one-time professional wrestler, the late Tommy Lister Jr. notably starred in the WWF movie No Holds Barred (1989) before pivoting to work as a character actor. Thanks to his formidable build, Lister Jr. almost always portrayed bad guys, and in Friday, he played neighborhood bully Deebo. Of course, his ability to be so effortlessly intimidating helped land him the role.
When scouting for Friday, casting director Jaki Brown needed to find somebody who looked powerful and daunting. "98 percent of the people we saw for Deebo were football players, really gigantic football players," she told Grantland in 2014. "They all thought they were actors but none of them could do it." Once they began to consider wrestlers, it only took one look at Lister Jr. for Brown to think, "'Wow, he'd be perfect.'"
Though the actor's Hollywood career had been sporadic, it remains memorable. He soon appeared in 1997 films The Fifth Element and Jackie Brown, both of which reunited him with Friday costar Chris Tucker. He later reprised the role of Deebo in the 2000 sequel Next Friday (but not the third film, Friday After Next). On the small screen, he also appeared in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.
Lister Jr. married his sweetheart Felicia Forbes in 2003, and they had one child together. Tragically, the actor died in 2020 of cardiovascular disease at age 62. In memoriam, his frequent collaborator Ice Cube tweeted, "America's favorite bully was a born entertainer who would pop into character at the drop of a hat terrifying people on and off camera. Followed by a big smile and laugh. Thank you for being a good dude at heart. I miss you already."
Nia Long (Debbie)
Friday was far from Nia Long's industry debut. She got her start as a child actor in shows like Guiding Light and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the latter of which saw her play the fiancée of Will Smith's character. The young star soon shared her film debut with Ice Cube through Boyz n the Hood before she was cast in Friday as Debbie, Craig's fiery neighbor and love interest.
While filming Friday, the actress made what she would later call her first major "grown-up" purchase: a BMW that inspired envy from her costar. "Chris Tucker and I saw each other on the freeway, on the way to the set… He had a busted window with a pizza box over it because he couldn't afford to fix the window!" Long told A.V. Club in 2014. "We get to work and he goes, 'When I grow up, I want to be just like you.'"
And grow she did, especially in her Hollywood career. Long went on to star in Made In America (1993), Soul Food (1997), The Best Man (1999), Big Momma's House (2000), Boiler Room (2000), and The Best Man Holiday (2013). She also continued to work on the small screen in shows such as Third Watch, Boston Legal, and Empire. Her more recent roles include Missing (2023) and You People (2023) as well as the Peacock series The Best Man: The Final Chapters.
Offscreen, Long and her ex-partner, former NBA player and current coach Ime Udoka, share two children. The couple broke up in December 2022 after 13 years together.
Regina King (Dana Jones)
Regina King was one of the more established names at the time of Friday's release. By 1995, she had already starred in the television show 227 for several years and appeared in Boyz n the Hood with many of her costars. This gave her plenty of time to bond with Ice Cube before playing Dana Jones, the rapper's on-screen sister with whom he shares a playful sibling rivalry.
During their first collaboration, King loved learning the many dimensions of Ice Cube both as a performer and as a person. "I got to know Cube in between scenes on the set of Boyz n the Hood. Regardless of how you saw him in… outside of that serious role, he laughed and cracked and bagged and did all those things that everyone else was doing their early 20s," she told Complex in 2015. "He definitely has a comedic side… He definitely has his timing right. It felt natural to be there with him."
After the success of Friday, King's star continued to soar with more film projects, including Jerry Maguire (1996), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), and Ray (2004), among others. She also lent her voice to the hilarious cartoon The Boondocks and has brought home five Emmys for her work in American Crime, Netflix's Seven Seconds, and Watchmen. In addition to her excellent turn in The Leftovers, the actress notably shined in If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), which won her both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
While King's career has been fruitful, she's also experienced tragedy in her personal life. The actress' only child, a son from her marriage to Ian Alexander, died in 2022 at age 26.
Professionally, King has continued to work in The Harder They Fall (2021) and stepped up to produce and star in the upcoming biopic Shirley about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Also on her horizon is the Netflix series A Man in Full, where she serves as an executive producer and director.
John Witherspoon (Willie Jones)
Friday saw the late John Witherspoon play Willie Jones, Ice Cube's dad and the kind of strict patriarch that many of us are all too familiar with. Witherspoon's journey through the entertainment industry took him down many roads: He had previously been a model and a stand-up comedian, which naturally led to television appearances in The Incredible Hulk, WKRP in Cincinnati, Hill Street Blues, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and in the main cast of The Wayans Bros. Before Friday, he also enjoyed roles in movies like I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), House Party (1990), and Boomerang (1992).
Unfortunately, his experience working on Friday wasn't entirely positive. Witherspoon would later claim to Vlad TV that he and the other stars allegedy "got paid $5,000 a piece to do that movie" and received no additional compensation after it went on to earn nearly $300 million. This comment made him part of the ongoing campaign for actors' pay to better represent the success of their projects.
After Friday, Witherspoon starred in a number of films such as the franchise's two sequels, Little Nicky (2000), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Soul Plane (2004), and many more. He also appeared on the small screen in a number of roles, including voicework on animated series such as The Boondocks (reuniting him with Friday costar Regina King), Black Dynamite, and Bojack Horseman.
As for his personal life, Witherspoon married Angela Robinson in 1988 and had two children. Sadly, the actor died in 2019 from a heart attack at age 77.
Faizon Love (Big Worm)
Friday may not have been Faizon Love's film debut, but it's definitely the movie that put him on the map. Before then, he was mostly known as a comedian with appearances on An Evening at the Improv and Def Comedy Jam. He also played bit roles in a couple of live-action movies and provided his voice to the underrated 1992 film Bébé's Kids. Three years later, Friday pushed his career forward with the role of Big Worm, a drug dealer who is just as ruthless as he is connected.
But the real-life Love wasn't quite as connected then as he is now, given that he reportedly only received $2,500 (the scale rate at the time) for the film. Amid fans directing their ire toward Ice Cube, Love defended his costar in a tweet, posting that "what I got paid is a moot point, it was the price of admission to a game. I have zero regrets."
Though he sat out the Friday sequels, Love went on to appear in Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), Money Talks (1997) alongside Chris Tucker, The Replacements (2000), Elf (2003), and Just My Luck (2006). He's continued to flex his comedy chops in episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, My Name Is Earl, Black-ish, and The Upshaws. Gamers may also recognize him as the voice of Sean "Sweet" Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Looking ahead, Love has a number of projects in the pipeline, including Off the Grid Comedy: Belize, which involves comedians traveling abroad and either clashing or assimilating to the local culture.
Paula Jai Parker (Joi)
Paula Jai Parker made her film debut in Friday playing Joi, Ice Cube's abusive girlfriend. Though she was convincing on screen as the kind of character audiences love to hate, on set, she was the kind of actor everyone loves. That's largely because she took control of many aspects of her character.
For example, Parker later told Page Six in 2020 that she and the movie's on-set stylist (who was relatively inexperienced and could only do braids) "came up with the look for Joi" together. But given that the young actor had double-booked herself in Friday and Tales From the Hood, this resulted in her having to take her braids in and out for months while filming both at the same time, making her a true team player.
The success of Friday helped really juice Parker's career, leading to roles in movies like Sprung (1997), High Crimes (2002), Phone Booth (2002), and the SAG-nominated Hustle & Flow (2005). As for television, she's starred in The Wayans Bros. (with Friday costar John Witherspoon) and Ray Donovan. The actress has also notably voiced matriarch Trudy Proud in Disney's ever-growing franchise, The Proud Family.
Along the way, she found time for love: Parker married actor Forrest Martin (whom she met on the set of Hustle & Flow) in 2004. The couple has one child together. And with some big projects coming up (including TV series The Block Trilogies and the film Temperature Rising), it's clear this talented actress never lost her eagerness or ambition.
Meagan Good (Kid #2)
Meagan Good may have played minor role in Friday as Kid #2, but she's gone onto a major acting and modeling career. But she might have never snagged a spot in her feature film debut at just 13-years-old if she hadn't let loose during the casting process.
"So I remember, auditioning for it and just like kinda going off in the audition room," Good said decades later." Her performance was enough to convince director F. Gary Gray that she deserved a part in his movie.
After Friday, Good went on to star in the film Eve's Bayou (1997) and soon gained a legion of young followers for her role in the series Cousin Skeeter. Since then, she's appeared in movies like Deliver Us From Eva (2003), D.E.B.S. (2004), Brick (2005), Stomp the Yard (2007), The Unborn (2009), Think Like a Man (2012), and Shazam! (2019) as well as its 2023 sequel.
On the personal front, Good married film producer and author DeVon Franklin in 2012, though the couple divorced in 2022. Among her upcoming projects is the movie Divorce in the Black.
DJ Pooh (Red)
Though also an actor, DJ Pooh's career is more focused on music as a rapper and record producer. He's also worked closely with Ice Cube as a co-writer on many projects like Boyz n the Hood and Friday, the latter of which sees him play a neighbor whose bike is stolen by neighborhood bully Deebo.
According to DJ Pooh, the collaborative writing process with Ice Cube was quite natural. One day, the two were "working on some tracks and we started talking about a movie," he told Complex in 2015. And even though its plot and characters are larger than life, much of the film is inspired by the shared background of its creators. "Me and Cube grew up around the same neighborhood, so we knew a lot of the same people," he said. "We started thinking about people we knew, what was going on, stuff that happened in our lives growing up, and just laughing and clowning about a bunch of different scenarios. Every hood has a Deebo or a Felisha."
In terms of acting, DJ Pooh hasn't appeared in many films outside of the first Friday movie (although he was a writer for the sequels). His other acting credits include the film 3 Strikes (2000), The Boondocks cartoon, and Freaknik: The Musical. Additionally, DJ Pooh wrote, directed, and appeared in the 2001 film The Wash.
Along with producing music for legends like King Tee, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, 2Pac, and LL Cool J, the veteran writer is currently hard at work on a potential fourth Friday film titled Last Friday. He's helped shape the franchise from the beginning, and it will be interesting to see how (and if) he brings things to a close.
Bernie Mac (Pastor Clever)
These days, we remember Bernie Mac as an outsized screen presence with an amazing entertainment legacy. Prior to Friday, he was an up-and-coming Chicago comedian who had achieved mainstream attention after appearing in Def Comedy Jam. He then had some minor roles in movies like Mo' Money (1992) and House Party 3 (1994), but his career got a serious boost when he starred in Friday as Pastor Clever, a hilariously hypocritical Baptist preacher who is often the butt of jokes from Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.
One of Mac's costars, the late A.J. Johnson, remembered his enduring sense of humor fondly. "When those cameras went off Bernie stayed on," Johnson said. "[He] had everybody laughing on that set. Singing, cracking jokes, running around playing with people. He was incredible. Anything he said came out funny."
Producers and audiences alike agree with that sentiment, and it wasn't long before he appeared in more major films, beginning with his first starring role in Ice Cubes' The Players Club (1998). He continued his hot streak with The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Bad Santa (2003), Guess Who (2005), and Transformers (2007). He was also a staple of the small screen, especially with the success of his long-running series, The Bernie Mac Show.
Mac married Rhonda McCullough in 1977, and they had one child together. The actor sadly died in 2008 at age 50.
Michael Clarke Duncan (Craps Player)
Michael Clarke Duncan's appearance in Friday was so minor that he's not even credited. But it's certainly easy enough to spot his iconic frame while his character is playing craps. At the time, the actor — who's now best remembered as the sensitive soul John Coffey in The Green Mile (1999) — was completely unknown, with this film marking his humble cinematic debut. And for the rest of his all-too-short life, Duncan would dominate one Hollywood role after another.
Despite his lack of industry experience at the time, Duncan still had some valuable wisdom for one of his younger costars. In a 2023 interview with The Root, Meagan Goode recalled bringing sandwiches for her fellow cast members. When she didn't have one for him (because he didn't specifically ask), the gentle giant told her that "everybody on set, you treat exactly the same, no matter what their job is, no matter what they're doing."
Through both his acting skills and his humility, Duncan soon took Hollywood by storm. A few years later, he netted Oscar, SAG, and Golden Globe nominations for his iconic role in The Green Mile (1999). He also appeared in Armageddon (1998), The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Daredevil (2003), Sin City (2005), Talladega Nights (2006), and Green Lantern (2011).
Duncan's career was sadly cut short when he died of a heart attack in 2012 at age 54. His friends, family, and fans have collectively mourned since then, as the weight of Duncan's talents was only rivaled by the size of his heart.
Anna Maria Horsford (Betty Jones)
In Friday, Anna Maria Horsford plays Ice Cube's mother. She came to the film with a fair amount of experience under her belt, including past roles in films like St. Elmo's Fire (1985) and Presumed Innocent (1990). As for television, she had also been a regular cast member on Guiding Light and Amen.
Even amidst her extensive acting career, Horsford is grateful for her time on Friday, later calling it "the most popular movie that I've ever been in" (and acknowledging that it helped her snag some much-appreciated airplane upgrades).
Immediately after the film, she starred in The Wayans Bros. for about four years. She later appeared in movies such as the sequel Friday After Next, Minority Report (2002), and Kiss the Girls (1997), among others. More recently, she was a series regular on The Bold and the Beautiful, earning her two Daytime Emmy Award nominations.
Fans of this esteemed actress can look forward to seeing her in 1266, an upcoming show about a woman who finds herself in the exciting (and occasionally dangerous) world of professional phone sex.