Here’s Why Chris Tucker Turned Down $12 Million to Do ‘Next Friday’

Here’s Why Chris Tucker Turned Down $12 Million to Do ‘Next Friday’

When Chris Tucker walked away from the Friday franchise, he left $12 million on the table and a hole that would have to be filled by Mike Epps. As it turns out, the reason Tucker turned his back on Friday and those massive stacks of green is because, well, there was too much green.

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Franchise star and creator Ice Cube has addressed Tucker’s absence from the second and third installments of the trilogy in the past, acknowledging Tucker’s Pentecostal Christian convictions that prevent him from appearing in a film series that promotes smoking the devil’s lettuce more than once. Given Tucker’s return to the movie business in last month's Air and Ice Cube’s continued quest to convince Warner Bros. to let him make Friday 4, the rapper again addressed Tucker’s departure from Friday on the latest episode of the Full Send podcast, saying, “You’ll hear 1,000 different stories, but we wanted to pay him $12 million to do that movie and he turned it down. … He said it was for religious reasons. He didn’t wanna cuss and he didn’t wanna smoke weed on camera.”

A wise man named Smokey once said, “Weed is from the earth. God put this here for me and you. Take advantage man, take advantage.” I guess Tucker couldn’t find that passage in the Pentecostal Bible.

The 1997 film that launched the Friday franchise was largely responsible for making Tucker a household name, as his role as the film’s fast-talking color commentator Smokey preceded powerhouse performances in The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown, and, of course, the Rush Hour trilogy, which retained Tucker through its relative sobriety — and a giant freaking pile of cash.

Tucker was reportedly paid a total of $45 million to do the second and third Rush Hour movies, a figure that exceeds the gross revenue of the last Friday film by nearly $12 million. While Detective James Carter isn’t a particularly “clean” character, the compensation and the lack of blunt breaks between Jackie Chan’s ass-kicking clearly enticed Tucker in a way that Friday couldn’t afford.

Ice Cube, however, claims that the split was a blessing for both Tucker and the Friday franchise, explaining that Tucker’s absence gave him the opportunity to introduce a new comedic relief character and a new trash-talking comic. “I’m glad he didn’t do it ‘cause we wouldn’t have Mike (Epps),” said Ice Cube, “Mike, to me, is funnier.” 

$11-million-and-change funnier, most likely.

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