In the latest episode of Just My Show, actor Geoffrey Owens got a surprise “guest question” from his former TV son. First played by two different sets of twins, Actor Gary Gray took over the role of Nelson Tibideaux in the later episodes of The Cosby Show. Almost 20 years later, he’s still in the business and going strong!
How old were you when you were on Cosby?
I actually started when I was three and a half and we finished right after I turned five.
How much do you actually remember from it at that age?
You know it’s really funny. I get this question a lot and I remember everything vividly around that age. It’s after that that starts to get foggy, like if you asked me anything…what I was doing in school maybe like fifth grade or something, I couldn’t tell you. But I remember those years vividly and it was just like testament to the fact of how influential that time was in my life.
How’d you get involved? Your parents just took you down there for an audition?
I actually was in New York doing a modeling competition and one of the judges was a producer from The Cosby Show and they had mentioned to my mom and I that they were looking for someone to replace the infant twins on the show. Went in for a reading I believe and, you know, they loved me…and… My mom didn’t really kind of believe it was for real so we actually flew right back to Chicago as planned and they called and said that Mr. Cosby would like to meet with us and read and do all that kind of stuff and so they flew us right back out to New York and the rest as they say is history.
Did you know who Bill Cosby was?
You know it’s funny is I did. At three and a half believe it or not, I was very into pop culture, entertainment, television, everything…and The Cosby Show was actually one of the few show that my mom, you know, would let me watch, you know, as far as grown up show, you know. It was a whole bunch of Sesame Street and things and then, you know, as far as shows that the family watched, I could definitely watch The Cosby Show, so I actually did. You know, I of course, didn’t know you know, his…I knew his persona on the show. I didn’t really know Bill Cosby, you know, but getting to know him was great and he’s such a great man, and I would love to also speak with him too.
Any particular memory of Geoffrey and what he was like?
Definitely. He had a braid or as a lot of people call a rat tail and so did I and so I remember all the time comparing like who’s was longer, and of course, his was. But you know, as a four year old, you want to believe that everything you do is better than anybody that’s older than you so I remember…you know and I kept saying that mine’s gonna get longer than yours. Mine’s gonna get longer than yours…and I don’t know if Geoffrey knew how long his was or I don’t know if he still has it actually but I want to say to Geoffrey that mine was I believe 30 inches long when I cut it so…I want him to beat that. But ah…Yeah it was really long and I cut it like around my 13th birthday and I do remember that vividly. Just all the time, people were like you guys are perfect together cause we don’t think any kid would have had the same hair style as the person we casted as his father.
I would say probably a pretty healthy percentage of actors that are doing something when they’re three, drop out of the business. You’re still going strong. You’re doing a lot of voice work I know. What’s your latest?
I’m on Fairlyodd Parents which is on Nickelodeon right now. That’s still going strong. I just did a Jack in the Box commercial which has just started to run and is becoming pretty popular. And mostly writing right now and that is kind of what I want to do eventually. So in addition to the acting, that’s pretty much my focus. Mostly on screenplays but, you know, I want to of course go into TV as well…and I had a great basis on a show that I was on at three years old to kind of model myself after, you know, what a television show is about and what it should be like and how it should touch other people, so you know that’s pretty much what I want to do but as of right now, you know, like I said, it’s going great career wise. I couldn’t ask for more to be still in it, you know 20 plus years later…and every time I tell people that I’m so grateful, you know when they can look at me and they know that I’m not over 30 and they say, you know, how long have you been doing this? And I say you know actually wow, you know in February it’ll be 22 years and they go wow like what was your first job? And I’m still…I’m always so proud to say, you know, The Cosby Show because just to have that foundation and then to still stay in it and I honestly think if I wasn’t on that show, I still wouldn’t be acting and always grateful for that.