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Jaleel White on His Iconic Family Matters Character Steve Urkel: “They Meme the Hell Out of Me!”

Did I do that? Jaleel White stopped by HuffPost Live on Dec. 9 to discuss his upcoming Lifetime holiday movie with Melissa Joan Hart and Barry Watson The Santa Con, and ended up reliving his days as iconic Family Matters character Steve Urkel. White even divulged that the real Steve Urkel is still dealing with the “nightmare” repercussions of his borrowed name, over 20 years later!

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“The actual name Steve Urkel, he is a friend of Michael Warren, one of our producers,” White laughed, “and so he can’t order pizza, I don’t think he’s had a decent phone order of anything in the last 20 years.”

White, 38, who played goofy neighbor Urkel on the family comedy for 10 seasons, has since made appearances on shows like Psych, Drop Dead Diva, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. White insists the iconic character hasn’t pigeonholed him, and says he has had a great career since the show wrapped in 1998. 

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“I always tell people I basically have the same career as William Shatner, there was a long period of his life where he was Captain Kirk to anyone, and then he became Denny Crane, and it’s just a generational thing,” White said.

jaleel white

The actor added that Urkel, who was originally meant to be a one-off guest character, has become a generational memory.

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“Everything is generational. If I’m on an airplane, or something like that, all the flight attendants, they just want to talk to me about Dancing With the Stars,” he said. “I just had somebody the other day, their kids came up to me, they wanted to take a picture, they were like, ‘look, it’s Mr. Todd’ from Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.”

White looks at his decade-long portrayal of Urkel as training for his career as a director, writer, and actor. 

“Live audiences trained me to know what’s funny,” the father of one, revealed.

The actor even appreciates the attention his character still receives on the Internet and social media.

“I’m on Instagram, and they meme the hell out of me!” he said, laughing.

Have a question you’d like to ask a celebrity? Check out who will be appearing on HuffPost Live and submit your question to be asked live on-air!

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