The youngest female Huxtable was almost male, and White nealry nabbed the role, but as most of us know, he ended up bringing to life the iconic TV nerd Steve Urkel. This fun reveal is something even his “Family Matters” family didn’t know.
“Really? You’re telling us something now,” says a shocked Telma Hopkins, while Kellie Shanygne Williams exclaims, “You what?!” when it’s revealed that White was almost cast to play Rudy.
“In 1984, I auditioned for The Cosby Show. And that was a very emotional audition,” White recalls at EW’s recent reunion with him and his costars. “[Then-NBC president] Brandon Tartikoff was in the room. And Mr. Cosby, obviously. They brought everybody that made the show, all the kids — they probably had us audition over the course of like five or six hours. My agent had been told that they’ve pretty much settled on [me], so I went to the audition thinking I was just going on a last audition. And then, all of a sudden, this little girl walks in.”
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“Now that I’m adult I understand — you’re never going to [present the show to the] network without options. … That was a complete lie just to get me to come back,” White continues. “They were flying everybody out the next day to New York to begin rehearsals to do the show. … We were planning, we were packing; my mom and dad were trying to figure it out, ’cause my dad was in dental school at the time — ‘How are we going to do this, Gail? Are you going to New York with Jaleel to shoot the show?’ And [the producers] came out after about six hours and they said to a bunch of little kids and their parents, ‘We will take you, you, you, and you.’”
When White wasn’t one of the kids they pointed to, “I went home, and I just … I cried my eyes out,” he said.
Adding, “But I did things that a kid does when they’re hurt, and they’re acting out. My mom had to grab me and shake me. She was like, ‘If you ever react like that again to an audition, you’re done [acting].’ She was probably more rattled that I was reacting this way.”
Watch the full “Family Matters” reunion special now on Facebook, here. OR watch it below right here on EURweb.
To see Jaleel White as Steve Urkel, check out all nine seasons of “Family Matters” available now on Hulu.