Carl Anthony Payne II Talks About ‘Martin’ Reunion

Carl Anthony Payne II has been a fixture on our TV screens since his days as Cockroach on “The Cosby Show,” but his turn as the “naive” Cole Brown in the ’90s sitcom “Martin” really brought his talent to the fore. the mass.

After 30 years, Payne has returned with co-stars Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold for the BET+ reunion fans have been begging for, a moment that felt “surreal” to the small-screen veteran.

“It was the first time in 30 years that we were all in the same place at the same time,” he tells Page Six. “For a moment it felt like we were going back to work?”

However, the crew met once in that three-decade span, when the fifth main cast member, Thomas Mikal Ford, died in 2016.

“The only other time was for Tommy’s funeral,” he recalled, fondly remembering his best friend when asked about fond memories between them.

“In real life, Tommy was raised to be a preacher, so he wasn’t on the streets in any way,” Payne said of his late comrade.

“I always thought it was funny how they wrote things in the script where Tommy had to use slang, and he never knew what it meant! He would say it and say it with conviction, but then he would turn to me and say, ‘What the hell does that mean?’”

Thomas Michael Ford
Original cast member Thomas Mikal Ford passed away in 2016.
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“I’m talking about simple, ’90s slang, things like ‘shiz-nit’ or ‘Ill Na Na.’ He couldn’t even say it right,” Payne recalled with a slight chuckle.

‘He was just that guy! Just that sweet, big fellow,” Payne said of his old friend. “He was always himself, always the same great person, and his smile was absolutely infectious. That was really my dog.”

Carl Anthony Payne II and Tisha Campbell.
Payne addressed the 2022 BET Awards crowd with “Martin” co-star Tisha Campbell.
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“Martin” remains one of the best-loved sitcoms of its decade, which is saying something considering they had direct competition on shows like “Seinfeld,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and several others, but for Payne, ” the proof is in the pudding” when it comes to the show’s lasting impact.

“What we did was never done at the level we did,” he says. “An all-black cast mixing sitcom with sketch elements, nobody did, we were brought in.

Actress Tichina Arnold and actor Carl Payne on stage.
The cast — including Payne and Tichina Arnold (above) — were known for their on-camera chemistry.
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“It was a really great NBA team back then, the Lakers or the Chicago Bulls. Everyone played their position, so everyone got the rock and everyone scored.”

When it comes to Cole in particular, Payne wouldn’t exactly say he relates to the character.

“People who meet and get to know me for the first time often say, ‘I never thought you’d be like this,’ because of the character I played, which is usually a good thing. Tommy always said there’s a smart person for it. needed to play stupid.

One of Martin’s best friends since childhood, Cole’s character was often labeled as “stupid” by others on the show, but according to Payne, he was more “naive” and more eccentric than a true imbecile, no different than other scene-stealing eccentrics. characters like Phoebe from “Friends” or “Seinfeld’s” Cosmo Kramer.

However, after some thought, Payne admits that as a young man in the business he was also a bit naive, as early on he had childish expectations that were adjusted as he slowly learned the ins and outs of his industry.

Carl Anthony Payne II and Melika Payne
Payne and wife Melika Payne look as neat as ever on the red carpet.
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“Sometimes it’s gotten people into trouble because they think they know you,” Payne says of fans associating him a little too closely with the character. Remember, it’s just a character, just a job.”

Payne recently discovered his love of directing and took the helm for several episodes of the Nickelodeon series “Young Dylan.”

“Oh, that’s my new s–t,” Payne says of his love of directing. “I’m all in. You can be your most creative, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility, because you are the captain of the ship.”

“Martin: The Reunion” is now streaming on BET+.

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