Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, ‘Friday’ Actor and Wrestler, Dies at 62

Man, I just watched a little interview on Deebo Samuel this weekend about how he got his nickname as a kid from the Deebo character, who was the bully on the Friday movie. In the interview, they had Tommy Lister enter the room behind Deebo Samuel and sat down next to Deebo and they talked a bit. Lister looked to be in good health, then I read this…

Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, ‘Friday’ Actor and Wrestler, Dies at 62

Pat Saperstein

Thu, December 10, 2020, 9:13 PM EST

Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who appeared in “Friday” and “The Fifth Element” and was also a professional wrestler, died Thursday, his manager Cindy Cowan confirmed.

Cowan said he was found unresponsive in his apartment in Marina del Rey, Calif. after displaying symptoms of COVID-19 in recent days. He had been working on a film and had to cancel shooting after falling ill, Cowan said.

More from Variety

“He was a wonderful guy with a heart of gold. Everyone loved him. A real gentle giant,” she said, “We’re all devastated.”

Lister wrestled Hulk Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation after appearing as Zeus in 1989’s “No Holds Barred.” He later spent time in World Championship Wrestling, where he was billed as Z-Gangsta.

The actor, who was blind in his right eye, played the neighborhood bully Deebo in the 1995 “Friday” and appeared in the sequel “Next Friday.”

His other appearances include playing a prisoner in “The Dark Knight,” and the bail agent in “Jackie Brown,” as well as roles in “The Players Club,” Ice Cube’s directing debut and Mario Van Peeble’s “Posse.” He had a supporting role in “Zootopia” as the voice of the fennec fox, in Adam Sandler’s “Little Nicky” as Nicky’s brother Cassius, and in “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” In “The Fifth Element,” he played the Galactic President.

In the pilot of “Star Trek: Enterprise,” he played Klaang, the first Klingon to make contact with humans. Also on television, he appeared as Mr. Matlock’s bodyguard in “Matlock” and on “In the Heat of the Night.”

Lister appeared in music videos for French Montana, 50 Cent, Sublime, Ice Cube, Chamillionaire and Young Bleed.

Born in Compton, Calif., he won the national shot put title in college, and briefly played football before deciding to become an actor.

He is survived by a daughter.

— Dave McNary contributed to this report.


I remember Tiny Lister very well back in 1989 taking on Hulk Hogan in a sports entertainment storyline and starring with Hogan in the No Holds Barred movie. The movie plot was pretty dumb but Tiny was really built in those days. He was in great tiptop shape & made a great wrestling monster heel.

yes, he was a good actor and that, he will be missed !

Sad. The Fifth Element is a movie I’ve watched numerous times and will again for years to come. Sad.

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He was Zeus, right? He had absolutely zero wrestling ability. He was just some big guy who looked like a million bucks.
He seemed like a nice guy.

Absolutely he had zero wrestling ability & terrible promos. He got hired by Vince McMahon because Tiny looked great.

Nice to see another wrestling fan out there.

Thanks Storm. I got hooked on sports entertainment when I was in elementary school and spent a lot of hours watching it with my parents.

Right on. I followed as a kid, and got sucked in during the beginning of the Attitude era. I don’t pay much attention anymore.

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I also attended a lot of live events with my parents & brothers many years ago. I still follow it somewhat. The last 20 years I have read a lot of wrestling biographies by guys like Mick Foley, Flair & many others. I find all the behind the scenes & backstage stuff fascinating. I guess I never grew up. Lol. I also like reading about the behind scenes stuff about classic movies & TV shows.