Cool Runnings stars now – Comedian, tragic death and Madonna connection

'Nuff people say they know they can't believe', that Jamaica's bobsled team hit our screens 28 years ago.

Now, if that doesn't trigger the Cool Running's team chant in your head then I don't know what will.

Fans will know the chant off by heart, we have the one Derice (Leon Robinson), and the one Junior (Rawle D. Lewis), Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) and the man Sanka (Doug E. Doug).

The 'fastest of the fastest' of Jamaican sprinters really struck gold when it comes to a fanbase, as the 1993 Disney film became somewhat of a generational cult classic.

The film tells a story loosely based on the 1988 debut of the Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada.

The family-friendly plot, which was loosely based on the 1998 debut of the Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympic Games in Canada, earned more than £109 million at the worldwide box office.

But what are the cast of the smash-hit up to these days? Decades later, the Daily Star takes a deeper dive into what happened to the film's favourite stars…

Leon Robinson

Leon Robison played Derice Bannock in the hit movie and has since pursued his acting career further along with becoming a singing sensation.

The star became the lead vocalist and songwriter for his band, Leon and the Peoples.

Before Cool Runnings, Leon's most famous role was playing the sexy saint statue that comes to life in Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video but he has since added many more jobs to his CV.

After the Disney classic, Leon played David Ruffin in the 1998 NBC miniseries The Temptations and also starred in the title role of Little Richard in the 2000 NBC TV movie, for which he achieved an Emmy nomination.

He also starred in Above the Rim with rapper Tupac, Waiting to Exhale, and the HBO prison drama Oz, along with continuing to tour with his band.

Doug E. Doug

Doug E. Doug played Sanka Coffie started out doing standup comedy at the early age of 17 and starred in a couple of Spike Lee films before Cool Runnings, appearing in Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever.

After he played the comical chap Sanka Cool Runnings, Disney then hired him for another film where he starred in Operation Dumbo Drop in 1995.

Since then, he has added the following credits to his roster; Diagnosis Murder, Cosby, Touched by an Angel, Shark Tale, Law & Order (regular and SVU), Justified, Blue Bloods, and the Netflix comedy Brown Nation.

Doug has kept up his comedy career while balancing frequent acting roles and is now a published author too, with his debut novel The Fall of '87: A Dope Novel being released in 2020.

Rawle D. Lewis

Rawle D. Lewis played Junior Bevill and much like his character's entry into the world of bobsledding, Rawle had a very unconventional entrance into the acting world.

He actually started out as a reader for the Cool Runnings auditions and helped the team with their Caribbean accents, but his reads were so good that he ended up being cast in the film as well.

After his Cool Runnings appearance, Rawle mastered multiple appearances in TV pilots that unfortunately got stuck in development.

This then gave Rawle the drive to focus his efforts more on his comedy career, which led him to tour all over the world to showcase his talent of making people laugh.

This didn't mean he completely knocked acting on the head though, as he still makes as and when appearance in films and TV shows.

Some of his roles include Spy Hard, with actor Leslie Nielsen, and the sitcom Malcolm & Eddie.

Malik Yoba

Malik Yoba played Yul Brenner and the role shot him to stardom having previously been running a youth theatre programme.

Since the Jamaican bobsled movie was released, Malik has definitely had the biggest career out of the bunch as his film and television career roster is far weightier in comparison to the other cast members.

After Cool Runnings, Malik famously landed the role of NYPD Detective J. C. Williams on the Fox drama New York Undercover, which he kept for five years.

He has also racked up other TV credits such as Bull, Arrested Development, Girlfriends, recording industry hit drama Empire, The Last O.G., and Designated Survivor.

Film-wise, he has also starred in movies such as Cop Land, Soul Food, and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?

Despite his glistening career, the actor has also run into some personal issues, having his character Vernon Turner killed off on Empire, due to being fired from the show.

Sources claimed that he was dismissed from the show due to drug abuse, which he publicly denied, saying on social media: "I absolutely never had any issues with substance abuse; that's not consistent with what I'm about."

He also came under fire after being accused by fans of accidentally outing co-star Jussie Smollett, as he said in a Q&A with BlackFilm.com: "I think that our show represents a huge opportunity to stay in the culture beyond entertainment value and there's an intrinsic nature of you have the gay factor, right? So, obviously, Lee (Daniels, co-creator) is gay. That was an important storyline for him. I think it's important for people to see themselves. Even within the Black community.

"But if you aren't really, really taking it off of screen and making it live in the community in a significant way … like I know Jussie, he is gay, and he's very committed to issues around the LGBT community. He and I have a very close relationship."

Jussie had not publicly come out at the time, but later confirmed on March 30, 27 days after Yoba's interview, that he was gay.

He's also been accused of sexual misconduct in recent years, which he has publicly denied.

Since announcing his attraction to trans women, he was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a trans minor during his New York Undercover heyday.

The allegation initially surfaced in 2019 when Mariah Lopez Ebony, a trans activist, accused Malik of preying on her as a 13-year-old before then paying her for sex.

Responding to the claim, Malik said: “A lot of nonsense is floating around town the last few days. I’m like, ‘What am I going to say about all this?’

"I’m not going to defend myself. Imma dig deep. Imma lean into my creativity. Imma lean into the purpose and the purpose is the service. It’s all it’s about. Love.”

Yoba was not charged or arrested after the accusation.

John Candy

John Candy played team coach Irv Blitzer and the project was his last film to be released during his lifetime, following his death in 1994 aged 43.

The most famous cast member of Cool Runnings, he already had a star-studded career having featured classic comedies like National Lampoon's Vacation, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone.

John did an amazing job in establishing himself as one of the most iconic comedy actors during the 1980s and early 1990s.

His film reign ended abruptly halt when he died of a heart attack while taking a break from filming the old west comedy Wagon's East in Mexico in 1995.

John reportedly had a number of high-risk factors for a heart attack, including a strong family history with his father dying prematurely of a heart attack as well, allegedly smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, along with heavy alcohol use, and occasional cocaine use.

Prior to his death, John was also reportedly worried about his weight and once lost 100 pounds over one summer while preparing for a new film role with Martin Short.

He was also apparently under a lot of stress while filming Wagon's East which could have also contributed to his health.

If you have been affected by this story, contact Rape Crisis England & Wales for free confidential support and information on 08088029999 or their website or 08088010302 if you're calling from Scotland.

You can contact the Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline on 0808 802 1414 if you are in Ireland.

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