John Witherspoon Almost Turned Down the Role of 'Grandad' on The Boondocks. His Son Convinced Him to Take It

John Witherspoon, wife Angela, son John David and (in front) son Alexander attend the Los Angeles Launch Party For The TV Series “The Boondocks” on November 1, 2005 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Stephen Shugerman (Getty Images)

The world became a little less funny when longtime actor and comedian John Witherspoon died in his home on October 29. No one talked nor ate on camera the way Mr. Witherspoon did. There was truly no one like him. Along with F. Gary Gray’s Friday, one of the most common projects associated with Witherspoon was his role as “Grandad” in The Boondocks television series.


His eldest son, John David “J.D.” Witherspoon recently took to Twitter to share a “fun fact” about the time his dad almost passed on what would become one of his most famous roles.

“True story, my Dad almost passed up on the role of grandad at first,” J.D. recalled on Twitter, Saturday. “He asked me ‘JD you ever heard of this thing called The Boondocks?’ I heard him say that and BUGGED OUT! I told him ‘you gotta take this job!’ And he did.”


Now that we’ve been graced with the unmatched voice of Witherspoon, we couldn’t have imagined anyone else portraying Grandad. Witherspoon was Grandad and Grandad was Witherspoon.

Having to reconcile with the possibility of either a non-Witherspoon Grandad or losing the character completely is one of the many reasons why the death of the iconic actor was so difficult for many fans.


Personally, I’d rather see a very special episode where Riley and Huey reminisce on their lost Grandad. It would be gut-wrenching, but it won’t match the sheer torture of having to be reminded of the original Grandad through what would be an inferior cast-choice, by default, should he be replaced.


“John let me borrow his wonderful, magical voice...and now I’ve lost part of my own. I will miss him as both fan and friend,” Boondocks creator, Aaron McGruder, wrote via the show’s official Instagram page.


Since the death of his father, J.D. has been sharing heartwarming memories of his dad and allowing the late actor’s fans to get a few intimate sneak-peeks into the man behind the actor, including footage from a travel show pilot the two planned to produce in 2017.


Along with J.D., Witherspoon is survived by his wife, Angela, and youngest son, Alexander.

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Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.