Lakeith Stanfield Never Saw “Friends” Until He Starred In Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” Video


The music video for “Moonlight” off Jay-Z’s 2017 album, 4:44recreated an episode of the NBC sitcom Friends with an all-black cast. While it was on air, the show had been criticized at times for being overwhelmingly white and for ripping off Living Single. Jay-Z’s video served as a commentary on representation with its cast starring Jerrod Carmichael, Issa Rae, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield.

Stanfield appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon this week to promote his new critically-acclaimed movie, Knives Out. Fallon asked the busy actor whether he had been a fan of Friends before shooting the “Moonlight” video. “I had never seen that show before in my life,” Stanfield bluntly replied. “I had maybe heard of it in passing but I had never watched it. It was cool. It was a learning experience for me. I was like ‘Damn, this is white.'” This remark on the show drew applause from the Tonight Show audience. 

In the interview, Stanfield also shares a story about how his Knives Out costar, Jamie Lee Curtis, managed to get him to quit smoking cigarettes while on set. “It was crazy. She’s just such a straightforward, beautiful human being that just says what’s on her mind at any given time,” he said. “She seen me smoking a cigarette, she just come up like, ‘What’s with this thing?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, I’m on set, you know? It’s a very high-stress environment. I’m just taking a little…’ She’s like, ‘Yo, yo, cut that out.’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? You’re right.’ It was just that simple.”

Stanfield is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood at the moment. He stars in Uncut Gems, which arrives in theaters next month and will feature The Weeknd’s acting debut. He told Fallon that the film provides the viewer with a “visceral response to it that feels like you’re engaged with it.” In February, you will also be able to catch Stanfield alongside Issa Rae in the rom-com, The Photograph


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