According to the TV mom, White, who played Steve Urkel, became irate during rehearsal and “started kicking and screaming and stuff.”
It has gone down in sitcom history as one of the greatest shows to emerge in the “TGIF” era of television, but everything wasn’t always friendly on the set of Family Matters, says one of its stars. The family-friendly series introduced Steve Urkel to the world, portrayed by actor Jaleel White, and the character would go on to deliver one of his most beloved catchphrases: “Did I do that?“
Jo Marie Payton played Harriette Winslow, Urkel’s neighbor who repeatedly put up with his antics, and she recently caught up with Entertainment Tonight for their segment on “Iconic TV Moms.” During the chat, she revisited fun, and not-so-favorable, moments on set. White was just a young teen when he landed the role of Urkel, and Payton believes being thrust into the limelight at such a young age may have influenced how the actor behaved.
“There was one time he actually wanted to physically fight me,” she said of an episode that aired in the show’s 9th season. “[There was a scene where] I said we can’t do that, standards and practices will not let that pass, it’s not gonna happen. He wanted to do it anyway… He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff.”
“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.” Darius [McCrary] grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind.” McCrary played Eddie Winslow, Payton’s character’s son. The actress added that she doesn’t cast all of the blame on White, but on the adults who were supposed to be guiding him at the time.
“I give some of those adults credit too,” she added. “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.” With so much time passed, Payton still looks back on her Family Matters days fondly.
“I did love all of my Family Matters crew,” she noted. “I’ve kept in touch with a lot of them, I see them on other shows… I love them all. We had incredible writers, I love them, and they know who my issue was with. It wasn’t with the entirety of them.”