Actor AJ ‘Smokey’ Johnson Claims He Was Banned From Set Of Next Friday, Says His Role As ‘Smokey’ Was Sold To Fredro Starr For Less Money

The legacy of the Friday franchise is undeniable, considering the amount of careers that it helped spawn. The 1995 classic continues to be as beloved and revered now as it was then, with many of its actors continuing to spill on behind the scenes stories, drama and the long looming final chapter that has been lost in limbo over at Warner Bros. VladTV spoke with AJ Johnson who played Ezal in the original. Johnson opened up about the film and why he was not asked back for the original.

Friday helped make house hold names out of much of it’s cast and helped launch lead actor Ice Cube to Hollywood superstardom. Cube played Craig Jones in the Friday franchise, a franchise which also helped launch the careers of Mike Epps, Regina King, Nia Long and Chris Tucker.

Cube had plans to conclude the franchise around its 25th anniversary in 2020 but has been stuck in a creative disputes with Warner Bros over its direction. Ice Cube had planned on setting the final film in a jail, something Warner Bros did not agree with. For his part, Ice Cube argues that there is some discrimination involved and that his films with WB are largely underfunded and under supported in comparison to films with white leads.

While he continues to fight for Friday’s proper conclusion in the present, several of the films actors have come forward over the years to talk about some of the drama they experienced in the past while shooting. One of the biggest reveals is how little everyone got paid for the first film. Late actor John Witherspoon spoke on it before his passing with Vladtv.

“We got paid $5,000 apiece to do that movie,” said Witherspoon. “The movie grossed $300 million! And they’re not gonna come back and say, ‘Look, we made a lot of money [and we are] gonna give y’all a bonus.’ That’s some [BS]. That don’t happen in Hollywood.”

AJ Johnson also caught up with Vlad to discuss the first film. He too was underpaid, and reveals that after doing negotiations with Ice Cube to return to the franchise with a better pay day, he showed up to filming to find out that he had been recast and barred from the set. He was confused especially after he claims Ice Cube expressed regret at not featuring his character more in the first film. He was recast and the role went to Fredo Starr of Onyx.

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