'We were never friends,' 'Good Times' Jimmie 'J.J.' Walker blasts cast in tell-all interview
The actor and comedian shared a shocking revelation about his role on the famous 70's sitcom in a new interview, shining a new light on what went on behind the scenes of the show.
James Carter Walker Jr., known professionally as Jimmie Walker, was a well-known member of the cast of Good Times during the 1970's, and even won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
But while today most series casts seem to be friends off camera as well, Walker dished all in an interview with Atlanta Black Star, making some surprising claims about their relationships off camera.
After discussing some technical aspects of the show such as its initial premise and storylines, he moved on to speak about his castmates, mostly talking smack about them.
The 71-year-old actor talked about the problems he faced with some of the other actors on the show.
He specifically named his co-stars John Amos, who played his father James Evans, Esther Rolle, who played his mother, Ralph Carter and Bern Nadette Stanis, who played Michael and Thelma, and Ja'Net DuBois, who played Willona.
Walker first shared that he got the role of J.J. on the show because he did stand-up comedy.
Before the sitcom, he made a name for himself by performing at shows in his New York hometown, eventually earning a name for himself on other US markets.
Eventually, a casting agent for series creator Norman Lear discovered him during one of his shows. Lear is also responsible for sitcoms like The Jeffersons and All in the Family.
However, it was a while before Walker took the offer seriously, even missing the first rehearsal in LA after being in South Dakota. He had not heard of the show maker and did not realize how rare of an opportunity he had been given.
In the show, he and his co-stars were a family that lived in a Chicago housing project and were very close-knit.
But the actor shared that their relationship off-set was a very different one, and according to Walker, he didn't even speak to his TV mother and father once when they left the set.
“I will honestly say, I don’t remember ever speaking a word to Ester the whole time she was there. I think the same basically goes for John. We talk more now but very, very little. We were never friends, never talked. If you said at that time ‘Call Esther and ask her about [something],’ I wouldn’t even have her number. I couldn’t have called John. I wouldn’t have had his number … We never spoke to each other. Only on the set … We never did anything together.”
He added that his former castmates seemed to have not realized the huge opportunity they had working on the hit show and that they did not appreciate their roles very much.
“These people, anytime you said anything, they get crazy, they get upset. I said ‘They don’t get it, man,’” Walker said.
Amos was fired soon after the third season of the show. The reason for him losing his job was the intense friction he had caused on the set with his disdain for the sitcom he was on.
As for his TV brother Michael, Walker explained that the actor had become disinterested in the show because he was supposed to have been given a more significant role in the sitcom. That was until J.J. grew more popular among audiences.
The two other girls on the show, Thelma and Willona, didn't cause many problems on the show's set, but their mannerisms still managed to annoy Walker.
When he suggested something to Amos and Lear, he was completely shut out, and he got blasted for his idea of making Thelma, who was supposed to be the show's sex symbol, do a pinup poster like actress Farrah Fawcett did.
Likewise, DuBois' character Willona would always only talk about her other career endeavors. It was hard to have a conversation with her because she was usually talking about her singing career or fashion designing.
The actress also complained to writers so much that they ended up expanding her role, and another character named Penny emerged, played by Janet Jackson.
None of Jimmie's co-stars have responded to any of his claims in his tell-all interview at this point, but it can be expected that they will clap back eventually.