When asked about the pay disparity past actors have complained about while working on the Friday franchise, Katt came to Cube’s defense, noting that he was a Black man trying to make movies without a big budget and people shouldn’t have expected a huge pay day.
Katt was also asked about Rickey Smiley’s 2022 comments on the Pierre’s Panic Room podcast, where he claimed he was originally supposed to play Katt’s role of a pimp named Money Mike while Katt was supposed to play his role of a robber Santa Claus. In his response, Katt said that not only did he write the role so there was no way anyone else would have played it, but he also said the original script called for Money Mike to be raped – and that Smiley was okay with that. Katt added that he himself risked his first movie and stood up to film executives and the cast and got it taken out of the script.
Taking to Twitter/X with a nearly 10 minute video the following day, Ice Cube addressed the Club Shay Shay interview and confirmed most of what Katt said was true; although Cube did want to clear up a couple of “discrepancies.”
In short, he said that the role of Money Mike was already written but Katt added his flair to it; he confirmed that Rickey Smiley did try out for the role first but they later gave it to Katt after his audition – and he denied that there was ever a rape scene in the film.
“First of all I just want to say we shot that movie over 20 years ago so people have different perspectives and it’s been a long time,” Cube began. “I also wanna say every comedian that I’ve worked with, every comedian that I’ve put in a movie – I only put them in a movie ’cause I thought they was funny, I thought they was perfect for the part. I tried to put them in a position to win. That’s what it’s all about, you know?
“As far as specific things, Katt was 100 on a few things – most of what he was saying,” he continued. “Couple things I just wanna clarify. When we bring in a new comedian, we do have them try out for different roles. So Ricky did give Money Mike a shot but when we saw him and we kind of saw how he moved and he was auditioning, we decided he would be a better Santa Claus – which was to me the perfect casting. When I saw Katt, I just knew that he was perfect for Money Mike. You know, Katt said he wrote his role which, I mean, the role was already written but he enhanced it.”
— Ice Cube (@icecube) January 5, 2024
Cube went on to explain that the role of Money Mike was written as a much smaller part, but Katt’s ad-libs and freestyled lines enhanced it so much that they kept adding more of him to the script.
But as far as the alleged rape scene, Cube said that was never a thing.
“Second thing I want to clear up – I would never shoot a rape scene in a movie, especially like Friday where you actually see this happening on camera. That ain’t my style. […] And the pliers joke was always in the script. We would never show that. That’s not my style if you look at any of my movies. So that was never a discussion. At that point in everybody’s career, we would listen to a certain extent but we wasn’t gonna change the movie for any actor. We do what we feel, and if it was a rape scene, it would have been in the movie.
“There was no reason not to shoot it. But that’s not my style. I don’t even like that kind of shit in movies on camera. So that was to me a little discrepancy there. Katt wrote a lot of his part because like I said he was giving us jewels so we were keeping the camera rolling. He was coming off the dome. He was coming prepared every day to steal the show. That was his mission and that’s what he did. And it launched his career. And I’m proud of the movie, I’m proud of all the guys who have come through a Cube Vision production and went on to do bigger and better things.
Ice Cube also addressed the allegation that actors who appeared in the Friday series were not properly compensated. The comments arrive at a time when pay equity in Hollywood — particularly Black women — has been at the forefront of conversations in many spaces.
The spotlight was cast on the subject when Taraji P. Henson brought it up during a teary-eyed interview moment where she spoke up about her plight and that of other Black women in Hollywood who all feel they are underpaid.
During the interview, Henson spoke about how much she’s had to work to stay afloat and manage her finances while being paid a fraction of what some of her peers make. Since then, she’s received the support and co-sign of number of celebrities, including Kee Palmer, 50 Cent and Chance The Rapper.
On his sets, however, Ice Cube maintains that each actor was paid a rate that matched their level of experience and skill.
“A lot of people talking about pay and how much they was paid in these movies that were extremely low budget. Most of these guys worked a couple of days. When you doing a movie, there’s over 100 people working that gotta get paid. Any actor that’s mad at what they got paid, just look at what you was doing. Look at where you career was at the time and take a look at where it is now. Friday had something to do with that, I believe.
“I put a lot of people in movies but they ain’t ever put me in a movie so you could take that for what it’s worth. I got much love for Katt. He spoke up for me a lot. I just wanted to be clear and clarify a few things.”