Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson, an actor and comedian best known for starring as Ezal on Friday, died at age 55 earlier this month.
His death was confirmed by his representative – BH Talent co-founder LyNea Bell via Deadline.
“Our BH Talent family is heartbroken about the loss of the iconic legend of stage and screen Mr. Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson. He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold.”
On September 6, 2021, Johnson died at a Los Angeles hospital after reportedly being found lifeless in a store. However, his death was publicly announced on September 20, and no cause of death was given.
Johnson played a small but memorable role in the 1995 movie Friday as a drug addict and petty thief, Ezal. He is also known for his roles in The Players Club and I Got The Hook Up.
Johnson also appeared on Lethal Weapon 3 and Menace II Society.
The late comedian and actor was from Compton, California. His father, Eddie Smith, was the founder of Black Stuntmen’s Association, which helped the comedian get his start in the movie industry.
Tributes pour in for AJ Johnson
Fans took to social media to share their favorite moments of AJ Johnson’s career; fans highlighted his iconic moments in movies and his stand-up comedy.
Rapper and actor Bow Wow credits AJ Johnson for discovering him after the rapper says the comedian picked him out of a crowd during a Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre concert in 1993.
Rapper Ice Cube, who wrote Friday, paid tribute to Johnson on Twitter.
“Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday.”
Johnson did not appear on the Friday sequels after a pay dispute with Ice Cube. Last Friday is the fourth installment, which has been in production for several years.
Fans shared some of the actor’s best moments after news about his death emerged.
Other fans shared clips from his stand-up routine.
Comedian Michael Blackson says he was close to the late actor and paid tribute to him on Twitter.
Anthony Johnson is survived by his wife, Lexis Jones Mason, and his three children. He also had a brother Edward and a sister, Shiela. He was 55 years old.
Last December, the cast of Friday also mourned the death of Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr., who played the role of Deebo in Friday. He was 62. And in November, Ice Cube lamented the death of Compton native, Big Sam, who he said was the inspiration for the Deebo character.