Will Smith Reconciled With Original Aunt Viv For Fresh Prince Reunion
Will Smith and Janet Hubert have reconciled during what proved to be an emotional reunion for the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The cast had reunited to mark the 30th anniversary of the classic ’90s sitcom, and there was one actor that many fans were quite surprised to see in attendance.
Hubert played the ‘original Aunt Viv’ for the first three seasons of the show, however she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid in 1993, who would go on to play the character until the last season.
Although Hubert’s departure was initially explained as a matter of creative differences, it soon emerged that she and Smith had not seen eye-to-eye on set.
According to E! News, Smith made the following comments about the feud to an Atlanta radio station in 1993:
I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show because I know she is going to dog me in the press.
She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her I’m just the Antichrist.
The bad feeling between the pair lasted for a long time, with Hubert apparently shooting down any hopes of a reunion, during an interview with TMZ in 2011.
There will never be a reunion… as I will never do anything with an a—hole like Will Smith. He is still an egomaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, which he doesn’t know the word.
However, this year the unthinkable happened, when it emerged that Hubert would be joining the reunion along with the rest of the cast, with she and Smith apparently reconciling their differences after 27 years.
During the HBO Max special, Smith revealed he and Hubert had sat down together for a candid conversation about what had happened all those years ago, stating:
As a family, we have our things that we talk about and then we have our things that we don’t talk about.
We never really, together, publicly talk about Janet. And what happened. And, for me, it felt like I couldn’t celebrate 30 years of Fresh Prince without finding a way to celebrate Janet.
Their taped conversation was then played, which showed the two actors exchange a hug before opening up to each other for the first time in years.
Hubert explained that things had been ‘tough’ for her, asking:
I just wanted to know one thing: Why? You guys went so far. I lost so much. How do we heal that?
Smith then expressed interest in hearing her side of the story, and Hubert went on the explain that she had been in an abusive relationship at the time she became pregnant in the third season, saying, ‘You have no idea. It was insane.’
Speaking to the camera away from the conversation, Smith admitted that he hadn’t been ‘sensitive’ around the time of Hubert’s pregnancy, confessing:
I wasn’t perceptive, and now that I’ve had three kids I’ve learned some things that I did not know at the time and I would do things very differently.
But I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.
Hubert went on to explain that she hadn’t been fired from the set, and had instead refused accept the ‘really bad deal’ she’d been offered, which included a a reduced salary and conditions which stipulated she wouldn’t be able to work elsewhere.
I was hurt deeply. When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one. Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me.
My family said, ‘You’ve ruined our name.’ And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me. Because you were Will. It was hard.
Smith, who had been 21 at the time, told her that he sees things very differently now as an older, more experienced man:
I was so driven by fear. I have children. I’ve been divorced and I have a second marriage, and I can see now the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was just for you to show up every day.
In response to this, Hubert emphasised the profound impact that Smith’s words have had on her acting career over the years, saying, ‘Words can kill. I lost everything… And I understand you were able to move forward, but you know those words, calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood, is the kiss of death.
She added: ‘And it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business. But I felt that it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.’
With both actors looking tearful, Smith sincerely thanked his onscreen aunt for sharing her story with him, and Hubert placed her hand on Smith’s face in an affectionate manner, all bad feeling apparently put aside.
Smith told her ‘You’re still my Aunt Viv’, and the pair offered mutual apologies to each other, before ending their conversation with a hug.
You can watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion on HBO Max now.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247.
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