Remembering Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.

Remembering Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.

Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. was an actor most notably known for portraying Deebo in Friday. When you saw this huge, bald, man come across your screen with his intimidating stature, you couldn’t help but notice him. I’m sure for those who knew him personally, he wasn’t anything like the characters he portrayed on screen. The characters he played showed versatility from the iconic Deebo in Friday to President Lindberg in The Fifth Element. Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Tommy “Tiny” Lister.


Lister began his acting career in 1985 with his first feature Runaway Train opposite Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. This film would be the first of over 130 films he starred in throughout his career. The 6’5 actor quickly became a household name with appearances in movies such as Beverly Hills Cop II alongside Eddie Murphy and No Holds Barred with Hulk Hogan. He also appeared in quite a few television series as well to include Martin, In the House, and The Jamie Foxx Show. But his breakout role would be when he was cast to play Deebo in the 1995 film Friday starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. While this may seem like a role we’ve seen from Lister in his previous roles, there was something special about him in Friday that stood out from the rest. Looking back, this film really catapulted his career. Before Friday, we mainly saw Lister in a slew of action-heavy films due to his background in wrestling. However, with Friday, we saw him in a role that resonated with many of us. Though he played the antagonist, we’ve all been in a situation where we had to confront a “bully” of some sort. This role was so important because it allowed Lister to not only reach a different audience but benefit from the rise of black films that were created during that era. 

After Friday, Lister continued to soar and expand his acting with versatile roles to include: The Fifth Element opposite Bruce Willis which reunited him with his Friday costar, Chris Tucker, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, The Players Club, Little Nicky, Austin Powers and Austin Powers in Goldmember. We’ve only scratched the surface of what an incredible actor Lister was and his film history. Unfortunately, while filming Lister fell ill and passed away last week at the age of 62. He will always be remembered for the mark he made in film and television. He’s a prime example of using the gifts you’ve been given to create something authentic. Rest in Peace Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. You will be missed dearly.

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