Encouraged by his Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, rapper/actor Ice Cube decided to try to write a screenplay. His first attempt, with help from DJ Pooh, was Friday, the 1995 film that introduced the world to the comedic talents of Chris Tucker and Bernie Mac. The movie—about a day in the South Central life of Craig and Smokey, two stoners struggling to come up with $200 to pay a drug dealer—is celebrating a 20th anniversary on April 26.
1. THE MOVIE WAS SHOT IN 20 DAYS.
With a $3.5 million budget, Friday was shot on 126th Street between Normandie and Halldale Avenues in Los Angeles. It was the street where director F. Gary Gray grew up. His childhood home is in the background when Deebo punches Red (DJ Pooh) for asking for his bike back.
2. THE DIRECTOR EQUATES IT TO LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.
When asked why he thinks Friday continues to resonate with audiences today, Gray told HollywoodChicago.com that "I think it’s because no matter where you’re from, you can identify with those characters. Everyone can identify with the bully, the neighborhood beauty that you had a crush on, and the troublemaking friend. It’s the same as Leave it to Beaver, if you look at what is familiar."
3. GRAY DIRECTED THE TLC MUSIC VIDEO "WATERFALLS."
Gray started his professional career directing music videos, including TLC's “Waterfalls,” which won Best Video of the Year at the 1995 VMAs. He was also behind the camera for the award-winning videos for Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage” and Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day,” which led to the motion picture collaboration with the rapper. After Friday made over six times its budget back at the box office, Gray directed the movies Set It Off, The Negotiator, A Man Apart, The Italian Job, Be Cool, and Law Abiding Citizen. He also directed Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” video.
4. GRAY MAKES A CAMEO IN THE MOVIE.
He plays the man mopping the store floor.
5. IT WAS MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN’S FIRST MOVIE ROLE.
Before he made his big screen debut playing craps with Smokey in the scene in which Deebo knocks Red out, Duncan appeared in commercials and worked security for Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Notorious B.I.G.
6. DEEBO WAS BASED ON A CRIP.
Wrestler-turned-actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. had Crips head Eugene “Big U” Henley in mind when he portrayed the bike-stealing bully. After serving 13 years in jail, Henley is now a music event promoter and CEO of a youth-empowering community group.
7. CHRIS ROCK AND TOMMY DAVIDSON WERE CONSIDERED FOR SMOKEY.
But Gray fought for the far less known Chris Tucker, who impressed the director with his ability to improvise.
8. CREW MEMBERS HAD TO LEAVE THE SET BECAUSE TUCKER WAS MAKING THEM LAUGH TOO MUCH.
Because their laughter ruined takes, camera operators and other personnel were forced to take a break or avoid watching somehow.
9. NO, CHRIS TUCKER WASN’T HIGH DURING SHOOTING.
"You can't make a movie high," Tucker told The AV Club. "Naw, I didn't stay in character, but it was a good movie to do. We had a lot of fun." In 2012, he told The Guardian that fans still regularly offer him pot. "They want to say they smoked with Smokey," Tucker laughs. "I'm so glad I don't smoke—I'd be high all the time."
10. YES, "BYE FELICIA" IS FROM THIS MOVIE.
Initially spoken to the needy Felicia by an annoyed Craig, “Bye Felicia” is currently the best way to end a conversation with someone who is bothering you. Regina King, the actress who played Ice Cube’s sister Dana, didn’t realize the phrase came from the 20-year-old movie until last fall.
11. "FELICIA" IS MOSTLY FINE WITH HER CHARACTER'S CONTINUED POPULARITY.
Angela Means Kaaya, obviously surprised by the popularity of "Bye Felicia," received a residual check for $1.17 in 2013. In 2014, she told Ebony, "The last thing, I think, me and Cube both thought was that this was going to be a part of America’s pop culture 20 years later. I’m cool with the ‘Bye Felicia’ thing, but I tell my son, ‘Don’t put it on my tombstone.’”
12. FELICIA'S SON IS A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER.
13. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS #1 ON THE BILLBOARD CHART.
It featured the Dr. Dre single “Keep Their Heads Ringin',” which was certified gold. The soundtrack was kicked out of the top spot after two weeks by Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View. Ice Cube was pleasantly surprised to discover that Rick James’ “Mary Jane” had never been used in a movie before. “You usually don’t get the Isley Brothers and a fresh Dr. Dre song," Cube told BuzzFeed. "It was a really special labor of love.”
14. DOUGHBOY AND CRAIG JONES SHARE THE SAME WARDROBE.
In what has been acknowledged as a purposeful nod to his Darrin “Doughboy” Baker character in Boyz n the Hood, Ice Cube rolls out of bed in the first scene of Friday in a black shirt, shorts, high white socks, and footwear—an outfit that is very similar to what Doughboy was wearing in the last scene of Boyz n the Hood.
15. ICE CUBE STILL LAUGHS AT THE MOVIE.
Cube's 21 Jump Street co-stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum caught the rapper-actor cracking up watching Friday on a plane. He claimed he was only watching it to think of ideas for a potential fourth installment of the series, but admitted to Vulture that "the sh*t was making me laugh. It was funny."
16. CHRIS TUCKER DECLINED TO APPEAR IN THE SEQUELS.
When asked about his reluctance to return to Friday's two follow-up films, Tucker told The New York Times: “People are loving it, and why mess with it when people love it? Let that just live on.”
17. TUCKER IS WRITTEN INTO THE NEW FRIDAY FILM.
After Mike Epps filled the Chris Tucker-sized hole as Ray Ray in Next Friday and Friday After Next, Ice Cube said he wrote Tucker and Smokey into his script for Last Friday. Unfortunately, it’s stuck in “development hell.”