'Family Matters' Alum Jo Marie Payton Claims Jaleel White Tried to 'Physically Fight' Her on Set

The actress recalled filming a season 9 episode when her costar allegedly attempted to spark an altercation: "He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff"

Family Matters
Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Disney/Getty

Jo Marie Payton is recalling an unusual incident that allegedly occurred on the Family Matters set.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Payton opened up about her then-costar Jaleel White's alleged behavior while working on the series. In fact, the actress who starred as Harriette Winslow once had an encounter with White — who played Steve Urkel — that she claimed nearly turned physical.

"There was one time he actually wanted to physically fight me," Payton, 71, said while recalling the season 9 episode "Original Gangsta Dawg." The episode in question saw White, 45, doubling as Steve's gangster cousin OGD.

"[There was a scene where] I said we can't do that, standards and practices will not let that pass, it's not gonna happen. He wanted to do it anyway .... He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff," she continued. "He said something about, 'She must want to melee.' I said, 'What's a melee?' He said, 'a fight.' I turned around — if he wanna fight, I would. Darius [McCrary] grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind."

PEOPLE has reached out to White's rep for comment.

Looking back on the alleged incident, Payton now recognizes that White was "just a kid" at the time. Because of this, she doesn't give him "all the credit" for how she says he behaved.

"I give some of those adults credit too," she said. "Letting him run wild and do whatever he wanted to do, thinking he can say what he wants to say, you know, and hurt people's feelings and all that."

Family Matters
ABC Photo Archives/Disney/Getty

Family Matters was a staple sitcom featured on ABC's TGIF lineup before moving to CBS in its final season. The sitcom, which is a spinoff of Perfect Strangers, ran for nine seasons from 1989 to 1998.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

White's character is one of the most iconic standouts Family Matters, but the actor has previously spoken about not having the easiest experience being on the beloved show.

"I didn't see how I was stepping on anybody's toes, I was taking anybody's shine. It's very important that I say this: I was not very well welcomed to the cast at all, okay?" he claimed on TV One's Uncensored in May 2021. "And I don't need to rehash that with the adults over and over again. They know what it is."

Related Articles