The f!ery fe-ud between “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” co-stars Will Smith and Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv in the hit 90s sitcom, has come to an end, decades after the stars stopped speaking.
The pair, along with their co-stars, reunited for HBO Max’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” (now streaming).Smith admits to being insensitive to Hubert, who was pregnant during the show’s third season, and says he understands how he “made the set very difficult” for his co-star, who left soon after.
Hubert reveals her tumultuous personal life was affe-cting her deme-anor on the set. But during the 74-minute special, all was forgiven in a candid conversation that’s a highlight of the reunion.
The NBCcomedy, which premiered 30 years ago in September, ran for six seasons, and became the bre-akout role for Will Smith, then a rapper in his early 20s enjoying success with DJ Jazzy Jeff on “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
The onscreen version of Smith was shipped off from West Philadelphia (Smith’s real hometown) to the ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood to live with his wealthy relatives, the Banks family.In the special, cast members Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), Tatyana Ali (Ashley), Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Daphne Reid (Hubert’s replacement as Vivian), Jeff (Jazz) and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey, the butler) reminisce about their co-star, James Avery (Uncle Phil), who passed away in 2013 after going through compl!cations from open-heart su-rgery.
Seated in the Banks living room – re-created for the special – the actors praised producers for welcoming their feedback on the show’s portrayal of an authentic Bla-ck experience, as it addressed police bru*ality and rac!al profiling and accurately represented the culture. Smith te-ased his heart-to-heart with Hubert on Instagram on the show’s Sept. 10 anniversary, sharing a photo of the two smiling, while locking eyes.
They greet each other with a long embrace, nearly 27 years in the making. It’s a far c-ry from the verbal sp-arring the pair once engaged in. She told The Insider in 2013 that she bla-med Smith for her d!smissal. In 2011, she shu-nned the idea of participating in a reunion to TMZ, telling the outlet Smith was “still an eg-omaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, (and) he doesn’t know the word.”
“This has been tough,” she timidly begins in the reunion special. “Has it been tough for you?””Yes it has,” Smith agrees.Hubert remembers being pregnant with her only child, Elijah Isaac. in the series’ third season, which she says led to “some friction” on set. Hubert all-eges she was in a “very ab*sive marriage” to James Whitten; they d!vorced in 1994.”Home life was not good at all,” she says. “I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things that were going on that nobody knew about.”
Smith acknowledges his fa-ults. “During that time of her pregnancy, I wasn’t sensitive,” he says. “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 says during the third season she was told her screen time would be cut back and, as a result, so would her salary. She says she was also told she could not pursue other acting jobs, so with a newborn and an out-of-work husband, she turned the offer down and left the show, feeling aba-ndoned by her real family and the industry.
“My family said you’ve ruined our name,” she tells Smith. “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 ba-nished, and they said it was you who ba-nished me… It was hard.” Smith responded: “I have children. I’ve been d!vorced, and I have a second marriage, and I can see now, the level of pa!n and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up every day, and then…!”
“But you took all that away from me… with your words,” she interrupts. “Words can k!ll. I lost everything – reputation, everything. Everything. And I understand you were able to move forward, but those words, calling a Bl-ack woman difficult in Hollywood is the k!ss of loss. It’s the kiss of loss, and it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Bla-ck woman in this business. But I have felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward,” she continues. “And I’m sorry that I have bla-sted you to pieces.”
Smith thanks her for sharing her story and admits, “I felt like you ha-ted me.”Looking into her eyes he says, “I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you – celebrate your contribution to this show and celebrate your contribution to my life.”Hubert says their conversation feels “healing.””I feel like this is a dream,” she adds. “I didn’t come here to have an!mosity. I came here to resolve, ’cause it’s time.”
The two end their conversation by exchanging apologies.”We good?” she asks him.”We good,” he confirms, going in for a hug.The entire cast rejoices in their forgiveness when Hubert joins them on set. She even meets Reid, for the first time, who took over the role beginning in the show’s fourth season. Their introduction delights the “Fresh Prince” group.”Seeing Daphne and Janet, my two moms, the two Aunt Vivs come together… seeing them meet for the first time, and embrace was the most incredible thing,” says Parsons.
This Article First Published On USATODAY