Rapper-turned-movie executive Ice Cube has opened up about the reason why Chris Tucker did not revise his character Smokey in his hit “Friday” movie franchise. Despite offering him eight figures to star in the movie’s remake, the comedian turned Cube down because of his religion, Cube recently revealed.
The ‘Friday’ Franchise
The NWA founding member was one of the first rappers to make a serious turn from music to film in his 1991 acting debut in “Boyz in the Hood,” and as a showrunner on the 1995 “Friday” movie, directed by F. Gary Gray.
The movie was a great success for Cube, grossing $27,467,564 at the box office over the last 28 years, according to Box Office Mojo.
Why Chris Tucker Left The Friday Franchise
With such success, the movie became a launching pad for Cube and his Cubevision in Hollywood and solidified their relationship with New Line Cinema studios, which would go on to produce several of his other films. While the movie helped Cube build a professional relationship with the studio, the content of the movie was at the root of the dissolution of his professional relationship with Tucker.
Between 1995 and 2000, Tucker had become a devout Christian and he reportedly didn’t want to appear on screen doing anything that might be seen as inappropriate.
Cube addressed the reason why Tucker left the franchise, even after he offered him $12 million to appear in the “Next Friday” sequel.
“You’ll hear 1,000 different stories but we wanted to pay him $12 million to do that movie and he turned it down,” Ice Cube shared on the “Full Send” podcast on May 19.
“He said it was for religious reasons,” he continued. “He didn’t wanna cuss and he didn’t wanna smoke weed on camera.”
Tucker, himself, discussed his choice to be more selective in his work. “The way I kind of stepped back from Hollywood, at one point being the highest paid actor in Hollywood, I felt like you know it was a ceiling right there. I wanted more — it wasn’t enough. So, I stepped back, lived a little bit, traveled the world, and did a lot of humanitarian stuff that really broadened my perspective of the world,” said Tucker.
Faith, Fame and Finances
Cube was not the only one Tucker turned down.
By this time, he had started doing more serious and big-budgeted movies that allowed him to not perform certain content. He reportedly received $60 million with all of the “Rush Hour” movies.
“It was kind of like I had to create another character that would appeal to everybody. I always wanted to do a movie like Eddie Murphy’s ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ that captured a big audience,” he continued. “And it was really successful around the world. So, I think that was one of my most rewarding characters.”
Even after starring in box-office blockbusters like all three of the “Rush Hour” movies, the Atlanta native withdrew from entertainment, only appearing a couple of times between the early 2000s and current day.
During this time, the actor experienced financial challenges that put into perspective the millions he was making but failing to pay taxes on.
In 2011, the IRS hit him for owing $11 million for the 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005 tax years. In 2014, the debt ballooned to $14 million and gobbled up much of his enormous wealth. Then in 2021, he was sued again by the IRS for $9.6 million in back taxes, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
The life choice Tucker, who enjoys an estimated net worth of $5 million, made is one with which he is comfortable. It also has not stopped the big movies from coming.
In 2023, Tucker returned to the big screen in Ben Affleck’s “Air,” a movie about Michael Jordan’s monumental partnership with Nike, and he is currently gearing up to star in the upcoming “Rush Hour 4.”