In a recent interview with Comedy Hype, Payne recalled how he came close to bagging the role of “Theo” … but as you know, Malcolm Jamal Warner ultimately landed the part.
Payne also noted that several A-listers came through to audition as well, including Sheryl Lee Ralph for the role of “Claire Huxtable” and Jaleel White (“Urkel” from Family Matters) read for “Rudy” (which was originally scripted for a boy), per ILOSM.
Below are additional highlights from the interview (via I Love Old School Music).
OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Bill Cosby’s Father’s Day Post Insisting He’s ‘America’s Dad’ Didn’t Go Over Too Well
Hey, Hey, Hey…It’s America’s Dad…I know it’s late, but to all of the Dads… It’s an honor to be called a Father, so let’s make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose —strengthening our families and communities.#HappyFathersDay#RenewedOathToOurFamily pic.twitter.com/6EGrF87t6G
— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 17, 2019
On Losing The “Theo” Role To Malcolm
I’ll never forget that day…when one of [Cosby’s] assistants came out to tell everybody who got the role. I was sitting next to Malcolm…and I just knew I had did a great job and they was gon’ say ‘You’ (he points to himself). And they looked at me and pointed at him. … It was like I got punched in the stomach by Floyd Mayweather.
Cosby Explained Why He Was Rejected
He [Cosby] was like, ‘Listen…you don’t always get a role because of your talent. … ‘I’m putting my family together [The Cosby TV family], so it’s a lot of different factors you know. You could be too dark skinned, you could be too light skinned, you could be [too] short, you could be [too] tall. … I just want you to know that it had nothing to do with your talent why you didn’t get this role. And I don’t want you to be swayed, or disappointed by that because you’re very talented. But I do want you to understand the business aspect of this.
Cosby’s Encouragement Didn’t Last Long
It made a difference that he took the time to tell me that. … So I took that and it lasted the plane ride,” Carl jokingly concluded. “Over the next year…I’m watching ‘The Cosby Show’ blow up and I’m sitting in the projects and I’m like *makes a frustrated facial expression.
After More Rejections He Finally Landed “Cockroach” Role
“They kept having auditions for different roles, like ‘the boyfriend,’ or whatever…and I would go in each time. … For the last audition, I was just like, ‘Yo if they say ‘no’ again, I’m never coming in auditioning for this show again. … Don’t call me back, I can’t take it.’ And it just so happened to work out.”
On Cosby’s Sexual Assault Allegations
I never saw any of those things [sex assault allegations] that they’ve talked about. So let’s just clear that up right now. I also don’t think that you can take away this man’s legacy in terms of what he did in the Black community and just in general for a generation. You can’t take it away. Whether he’s guilty or not? That’s between him and God, I don’t know. But he wasn’t necessarily a nice man at times. Wasn’t a nice man, know what I mean?
Scroll up and watch Payne recall his last conversation with Bill Cosby.