The close-knit family on Good Times wasn’t close at all behind the scenes, according to one of the show’s stars.
Jimmie Walker, who rose to stardom playing James ‘J.J.’ Evans, Jr. on the 1970s sitcom, has revealed he had issues with many of his former castmates, including the late Esther Rolle, who played his mom.
“I don’t remember ever speaking a word to Esther the whole time she was there,” Walker said in a recent interview with the Television Academy, which hands out the Emmy Awards.
Walker, 71, added that he wasn’t friendly with his TV dad, John Amos, either.
“I think the same basically goes for John. We talk more now, a little bit, but very, very little. We were never friends, we never talked. If you said at that time ‘Call Esther and ask her about [anything],’ I wouldn’t even have her number,” he explained. “I couldn’t have called John. I wouldn’t have had his number. We were never friends. We never spoke to each other. Only on the set.”
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Ja’net DuBois, Ralph Carter and BernNadette Stanis co-starred on the CBS sitcom, which ran for six seasons.
Walker said Amos caused problems on set because he thought the show was beneath him.
“John is a good actor, a solid actor,” Walker noted. “And I think it was just this show, this situation, that was against anything and everything he believed in.”
Amos’ character, James Evans, Sr., was killed off the series after three seasons.
Amos has said in previous interviews he was fired by legendary producer and writer Norman Lear after repeatedly complaining that too much emphasis was being placed on J.J. and his catchphrase “Dyn-o-mite!” instead of on more substantive issues confronting Black families.
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In addition to Rolle and Amos, Walker had issues with Ja’net DuBois, who played Willona Woods.
He said she frequently complained that her character wasn’t getting enough lines.
“She was always trying, she was always pushing,” he said about DuBois, adding that he believes her complaints eventually led to the writers adding Janet Jackson’s character, Penny.
“Without Ja’Net, I don’t think that Janet Jackson would’ve ever gotten on the show,” he explained. “She laid out her side of whatever so much, that the writers said, ‘We’ve got to do something to get her off our backs.’”
The comedian also suggested his former castmates didn’t appreciate being on a successful show, which ultimately led to the series’ cancellation.
“I think that they killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” he stated. “These people, anytime you said anything, they get crazy, they get upset. I said ‘They don’t get it, man.’”
You can watch the interview below.