Jaleel White: Steve Urkel From 'Family Matters' Talks Money, Physical Maturation, William Shatner
Keep this in mind: for all the rejections from Laura Winslow, the painful transformations into Stephan and the pants that did his "sack" no favors, it's good to be Steve Urkel. After all, he's beyond loaded.
Jaleel White, the actor who turned suspenders into universal symbols of geekdom and made the term "Did I Do That?" into perhaps the most obnoxious thing a trouble-making child could say, is proud of his run as the nerd from next door. Especially what it did for his bank account -- he's the highest paid black kid in the history of television, he told Vanity Fair in a new interview.
And he worked damn hard to earn that cash -- even if it meant some physical struggles.
"The fact is that I was maturing," he remembered of his teenage years growing up as Urkel. "I knew physically I had made certain sacrifices to keep that property alive that just couldn't be made anymore. I wasn't changing my hair; I was staying out of the gym. To be honest, I was retarding my own growth as a man in order to maintain the authenticity to what I thought that character should be."
That retardation literally included his manhood, too. Painfully and unfortunately.
"I was getting network notes on the bulge of my sack! I wore my pants so freaking tight and it was like, after awhile, we got a problem there," White said. "So, literally, the last season we loosened up his pants."
Now, having just starred in the kid-focused "Judy Moody & The NOT Bummer Summer," White is setting out to make his own film. And unlike Urkel, he may have his way with romance in this one. Or at least can direct somebody else at it.
"I'm keeping it under wraps, but I will tell you it's a romantic comedy that Joel Zwick is producing," White revealed. "He directed 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding.' I wrote the script four years ago and I'm really excited about this project. We're shooting in Canada later this summer."
Perhaps he has Captain Kirk to thank for all the encouragement. While working on "Boston Legal," White said he had quite an interesting interaction with William Shatner himself.
"It was funny because he had no idea who I was," White said. "After a take he says, 'You should stick with this, you've got some chops.' So Captain Kirk just told Urkel he should stick with this and he's got some chops."
To be fair to White, Shatner didn't just miss "Family Matters" all those years ago; White has had a busy career as an actor since leaving that family classic. He's done both voice work -- as Sonic the Hedgehog in all those 90s cartoons! -- has featured in two live action series in "Grownups" and the web series "Fake It Til You Make It."
He even blogged for The Huffington Post about giving everything he had to make that web series.
Not bad for the geek next door.
For more, click over to Vanity Fair.