Can’t picture Jaleel White as anything but Urkel? Well turns out, the actor almost got the part of another television kid star that we knew and loved.
In a new interview for Vanity Fair, Jaleel spilled about how close he came to being cast as ‘Rudy’ on “The Cosby show.” Calling his “tragic auditioning story,” the actor recalled how he was beat out for the part by Keisha Knight Pulliam. Jaleel says when he got a call from the network to come in, he thought that the meeting was just a formality not a head to head. Turns out he was wrong:
“A little girl comes walking in, and I’m like-even at eight years old-“Who’s she? And they’re like, “She’s auditioning for Rudy, too.” So I’m like, “Oh, it’s not as much of a formality as I thought…
They (Bill Cosby and the producers) were in such a hurry to get to New York and start filming that they came out and picked the kids one by one right in front of all of us. Jamal Warner, Tempest Bledsoe . . . The rest of us all went home crying. It was amazing. Obviously I’m grateful that things worked out the way they did; I think it put a little more money in my pocket.”
Jaleel who is staring in the new film, ‘Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,’ says that he loved playing Urkel in Family Matters. But the star also shared how his ten year run as the same character on the small screen took its toll on him as a young man.
“I knew physically I had made certain sacrifices to keep that property alive that just couldn’t be made anymore,” he said. “I wasn’t changing my hair; I was staying out of the gym. To be honest, I was retarding my own growth as a man in order to maintain the authenticity to what I thought that character should be…
I was getting network notes on the bulge of my sack. I wore my pants so freaking tight and it was like, after awhile, we got a problem there. So, literally, the last season we loosened up his pants.”
Uhm. Well. Can you say awkward? To read the rest of Jaleel’s interview, click here.