What Happened to Malcolm-Jamal Warner?

Fans of the former Cosby Show star Malcolm-Jamal Warner were stunned to hear shocking news about the actor, but all was not as it seemed.

Fake stories about celebrities are nothing new and date back to the days of Marilyn Monroe. In her day, it was stuff like taking an intelligent and accomplished woman and constantly stereotyping her as a promiscuous dumb blonde. However, with the advent of the digital age, false stories about celebrities have been taken to new extremes, with ludicrous and even dangerous false rumors being published around the world every day. This was the case recently for Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

The 52-year-old actor, famous for his role as Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show, found himself being the subject of a particularly nasty online rumor. In early May 2023, news began spreading around the net that the actor suddenly passed away. Like everything online these days, the story spread like wildfire. Thankfully, it was confirmed to be a hoax. Since Warner is very much alive and well, it’s now prompted people to wonder where he’s been lately and what he’s been up to with his career in recent years.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s Early Fame

The cast of The Cosby ShowNBC
Although Malcolm-Jamal had already made small appearances in TV shows by 1982, The Cosby Show would prove to be a career-defining one for the actor. From 1984 to 1992, he played Theo Huxtable alongside Bill Cosby as a part of one of America’s most beloved TV families.

Warner was barely a teenager at the time and did a lot of his growing up on it. Back when Bill Cosby was known only as a funny TV star and a family-friendly comedian, anyone associated with the show immediately became household names themselves. For his part, Malcolm-Jamal Warner was so famous at the time, he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1986. That year, he was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

After his time on the show, during the early ’90s, Warner continued acting and appeared in the Wesley Snipes film, Drop Zone. Despite his fame as a former Huxtable, Warner’s roles weren’t as glamorous as one might have expected. His notable credits early on during that period included a couple of appearances on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before joining the main cast of the Bill Cosby-produced NBC show, Here and Now. Despite being credited on the show as its lead character and as an executive consultant, the show was canceled after just 13 episodes due to low ratings.

What Followed For Warner

Griffith and Warner in Malcolm & EddieUPN
Aside from a few appearances in minor indie movies and TV films, Warner’s career as an actor remained a little muted. After Here and Now, he performed a voice role for The Magic Schoolbus and appeared in a TV movie about Mike Tyson. By the mid-90s, Warner returned to sitcoms when he joined the main cast of Malcolm & Eddie alongside the hilarious Eddie Griffin. The show was popular but could never reach the same heights as The Cosby Show.

That was perhaps a good thing since Warner was a lot older by then and the show itself featured humor that was a lot more raunchy. However, despite all of Warner’s early acclaim as an actor, he struggled to recapture his glory days and mostly appeared in small movies and single episodes of TV shows. As a highly recognizable actor, Warner became a lot less noteworthy for a while and largely disappeared from the limelight. However, since the 2010s, Warner’s career has experienced something of a comeback.

The Renaissance of Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Warner in SuitsUSA Network
By 2013, Warner’s potential resurfaced as he began slowly securing roles in more acclaimed shows that were a better fit for his acting caliber. Over the next three years, he appeared in Key & Peele, had a recurring role in Major Crimes, and made appearances on hit shows like Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story. Suddenly, the once familiar face of Malcolm-Jamal Warner was appearing on popular shows more regularly again.

He was a lot older, and visibly more mature, his talent and physical stature seeming to have both aged gracefully. At the height of its fame, Warner suddenly had a recurring role on the very popular hit legal show, Suits. He kept up appearances on various shows after Suits, and in 2018, landed a role that firmly placed him back on the map as one of the most solid TV actors around.

MJ as AJ

Warner on The Resident Fox
The hit medical show, The Resident, gained a lot of popularity from the time it first aired on Fox in January 2018. Aside from its intriguing medical drama that took place at the fictional Chastain Park Memorial Hospital, the show found some very bingeworthy ways of keeping audiences hooked. It followed the lives of young doctors as they did their best to balance complex medical cases, their own convoluted love lives, and the medical system itself which frequently threw up outrageous ethical dilemmas for them to deal with.

The show was soon given an injection of style and pomp as Malcolm-Jamal Warner joined it as a recurring character from season one. Playing Dr. A.J. “The Raptor” Austin, Warner brought a lot of charm and exuded natural confidence as a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon that joins Chastain Memorial. Initially a little arrogant and self-serving, the character’s popularity grew as he softened and evolved, eventually becoming a beloved part of the main cast from season two onwards. Sadly, it was announced in April 2023 that The Resident was being canceled.

It was a shame since the show was known for its amazing plots and intricate medical nuances. According to a tweet by American screenwriter, film director, and the show’s creator, Amy Holden Jones, the show had garnered the respect of the medical profession itself.

“That didn’t last. We are now by far the most respected show by doctors and nurses. They feed #TheResident stories. And we remain the most reality based medical show since ER.”

Despite its unceremonious end, The Resident, and its main cast members and characters have made their mark. For Malcolm-Jamal Warner in particular, it was a show that firmly put a highly talented actor back on the perch he always deserved to be on. Time will tell what the next step of his career will bring. Given his popularity and strong performance in The Resident, it’s hopeful that he will keep being a regular fixture on our TV screens as he was all those years ago when audiences first fell for his charms.

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