Will Smith and his former The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Janet Hubert are saying “smell you later” to decades of tension.
The popular 1990s sitcom’s reunion special debuted on HBO Max on Wednesday, Nov. 18. A key highlight was Smith and Hubert clearing the air in front of fellow alums Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro.
“We never really together publicly talk about Janet and what happened,” Smith told the other cast members. “And for me, it felt like I couldn’t celebrate 30 years of Fresh Prince without finding a way to celebrate Janet. So she agreed to sit down and have a conversation with me. And Janet and I saw one another for the first time in 27 years yesterday.”
Smith, 52, and Hubert, 64, enjoyed a lengthy hug, with the Ali actor acknowledging, “It’s been a real long time.”
Hubert played Aunt Viv for the first three seasons but departed in 1993. Reid took over the role for the three remaining seasons until the show’s finale in 1996.
Smith and Hubert have exchanged barbs in the media over the years, with Hubert telling TMZ in 2011 that she would not participate in a reunion because she would “never do anything with an a–hole like Will Smith.”
“During that third season when I got pregnant, there was a lot of things going on in my life and Will’s life as well,” Hubert said during the reunion. “Home life was not good at all. I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things going on that nobody knew about. Cast had no idea what was going on.”
Smith replied, “During that time of her pregnancy, I wasn’t sensitive, wasn’t perceptive. Now that I’ve had three kids, I’ve learned some things I did not know at the time. I would do things very differently. I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”
According to Hubert, the show’s team cut her salary after the third season and offered her a “really bad deal.” She explained that she wasn’t actually fired but simply felt that she had no choice but to reject the offer, leading producers to recast the role.
The General Hospital actress pointed out that the experience led her to feel “disowned” by Hollywood, and that she was told that Smith had “banished” her.
“You took all that away from me with your words,” Hubert told the Independence Day star. “Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, everything. I understand you were able to move forward. You know those words—calling a Black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business. I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry I have blasted you to pieces.”
Smith thanked Hubert for sharing her story and said he was glad to celebrate her contribution to the show and to his life. “The person I want to be is someone who protects you,” he continued, “not someone that unleashes dogs on you.”
The two of them both apologized, with Hubert telling Smith, “We good.” The entire cast then enjoyed a group hug.
Fans continue to have a fondness for Fresh Prince, with Peacock recently handing a two-season pickup to a dramatic reboot of the show. All six seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the reunion special are currently available on HBO Max.