According to veteran actress Jo Marie Payton, ABC’s classic TGIF cast has gotten a little wilder than Family Matters fans might think.
Payton – who played Harriette Baines Winslow on the wholesome sitcom from 1989 to 1997 – has claimed Steve Urkel himself, Jaleel White, tried to turn her violent during filming.
“One time he actually wanted to physically fight me,” the 71-year-old told Entertainment Tonight, claiming the former child star’s rapid rise to the limelight influenced his attitude on set.
She said the altercation happened during the season 9 episode “Original Gangsta Dawg,” in which White, now 45, also portrayed Urkel’s gangster cousin, OGD.
“[There was a scene where] I said we can’t do that, standards and practices won’t let that happen, it’s not going to happen,” Payton said. “He still wanted to do it … He was so angry he started kicking and yelling and stuff.”
That’s when the Proud Family star revealed she “left the set.” As she was about to leave, she overheard White remarking. She then asked costar Darius McCrary to clarify what White had said.
“He said something like ‘She must want melee.’ I said, “What is a melee?” He said, ‘a fight.’ I turned around – if he wants to fight, I would,” she added. “Darius grabbed me. I wanted to whip his ass.”
However, Payton explained that she understood that White was “just a kid” at the time and doesn’t give him “all the credit” for his actions.
Payton said: “I also give credit to some of these adults. Letting him go around doing whatever he wants, thinking he can say whatever he wants to say, you know, and hurting people’s feelings and stuff like that.”
White’s reps did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment on Payton’s allegations.
The character of Steve Urkel began as a supporting role on the show. But his wacky attire and nerdy sense of humor captivated audiences and he quickly became the main topic.
An episode of E!’s True Hollywood Story aired last year, in which several alumni of the show touched on the tensions that arose as crowd-pleaser White was upgraded to a main character. The producers told their actors that the “dynamics would change” to make the sitcom more about Urkel and his antics.
“And we said ‘OK,'” Payton said in the documentary. “We weren’t happy about it. I think over time it got a little unforgiving, but it was just an adjustment we had to make.
“My arrival on ‘Family Matters’ was a bumpy start at first,” said White. “They kind of had to accept that I was there. That was a process.”
But as time went on, the cast grew to like him, and they “figured out that ‘if you do this and I do that, we win’ — that eventually developed,” he said.