Tommy "Tiny" Lister, 'Friday' and 'The Fifth Element' Co-Star, Has Died at 62

Tommy “Tiny” Lister is a longtime character actor who you may not know by name, but you would undoubtedly recognize his face, commanding stature, and deep voice from his appearances in various movies and TV shows over the years. Lister is best known for his appearances in the Friday comedy franchise, the sci-fi action movie The Fifth Element, and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and he was still working regularly to this day. Unfortunately, the actor has passed away at age 62 due to complications from COVID-19.

TMZ was first to report the passing of Tommy “Tiny” Lister. According to Lister’s manager, Cindy Cowan (via CNN), the actor had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms in the days leading up to his death. He was meant to be shooting a movie over the past week, but due to difficulty breathing and fatigue, he was unable to appear on set and even canceled a Zoom appearance for a TV festival. When friends and family suddenly couldn’t reach him by phone on Wednesday, they became worried.

On Thursday, The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent deputies to carry out a welfare check at Lister’s apartment, and he was found dead. It is believed that Lister died of natural causes, but an autopsy will be performed in order to determine the official cause of death.

Lister found fame in wrestling early in his career when he appeared alongside Hulk Hogan in the movie No Holds Barred as a character named Zeus. He would keep that name when he faced off with Hulk Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation, making several appearances in the ring throughout 1989.

This led to a steady career as a character actor where his muscular physique and intimidating voice made him a prime candidate to play henchman, bouncers, bodyguards, prisoners, military men, and other tough guys. Over the years, he appeared in a variety of TV shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Renegade, Walker Texas Ranger, Matlock, Step By Step, Martin, NYPD Blue, The Jamie Foxx Show, Nash Bridges, Star Trek: Enterprise, Key & Peele, and Comedy Bang! Bang!.

But Lister appeared in many more feature films than TV shows. Though they were often lesser seen films, he did have several significant roles in major movies over the years. Lister was a memorable presence in the Friday comedy franchise as Deebo, not to mention playing a thoughtful prisoner in the climax of The Dark Knight, and the president in The Fifth Element. Throughout his big screen career, Lister also appeared in The Meteor Man, The Players Club, Posse, Jackie Brown, Little Nicky, Austin Powers in Goldmember, and he even lent his voice to a giant in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and the character Finnick in Zootopia.

Lister’s IMDb has him listed to appear in six upcoming movies that are in post-production. He was also attached to two projects that are currently in production, an action thriller called Renegades and another movie called Last Chance to Dance. As of now, we’re not sure which of those movies he was currently shooting when he contracted COVID-19 or how the productions will deal with his passing. There were also three films that had either been announced or were in pre-production that Lister was meant to appear in.

Lister clearly loved what he was doing and showed no signs of slowing down, and it’s a shame that the coronavirus pandemic claimed him when he was still working continually. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time. Rest in peace.

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