Will Smith & Janet Hubert End ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Feud After 27 Years
HBO Max / Saeed Adyani
Fans finally have the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunion they’ve been waiting for!
The biggest reunion of all, however, was the emotional face-to-face between Will Smith and Janet Hubert, who played his character’s Aunt Vivian before being replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid after three seasons.
Janet, who was pregnant at the time, left the show over the contract she was offered, and there has been bad blood between her and Smith ever since.
Smith and Hubert used the reunion special to clear the air about their 27-year-feud. After a warm embrace, Janet asked Will, “I just want to know one thing, ‘Why? Why so far?’”
Before explaining his side of things in a separate, direct-to-camera interview, Will told Janet, “I don’t know your story.”
Reflecting on that time, Janet told an off-camera producer in another interview for the HBO Max special, “Something I would like to clarify is, during that third season, when I got pregnant, there were a lot of things going on in my life, and in Will's life as well. There was some friction because I was pregnant, home life was not good at all, I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking, because there were things going on that nobody knew about. The cast had no idea what was going on."
In Will’s interview with a producer, he admitted, “During that time of her pregnancy, I wasn't sensitive, I wasn't perceptive, and, you know, 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.”
During their chat, Janet shared with Will, “When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one. My 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. You were a kid.”
Will explained his mindset at the time, telling Janet, “I was 21 years old… everything was a threat to me… the world. I was so driven by fear and jokes and comedy.”
Janet emphasized, “What you didn't realize either is that I was going through a lot at home. You didn't know. You guys didn't know — very abusive marriage."
“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,” Will responded.
Janet pointed out to Will, “But you took all that away from me, with your words. You know, words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, 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. It's the kiss of death, and it's hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.”
Hubert went on to apologize to Smith for bashing him in the media, saying, “I have felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward, and I'm sorry that I have blasted you to pieces."
After hearing Janet’s side of the story, Will told her, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I didn't know that. When I look back now, it's obvious that you were having a hard time. And I felt like you hated me. I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you, celebrate your contribution to this show, celebrate your contribution to my life."
They ended the one-on-one with a hug. Will declared, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.”
Following their tearful reunion, Hubert noted to an off-camera producer, “I have to say, after 27 years, being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together, it's healing.”
Will added in his solo interview, “I don’t want to be that guy. I go out into the world and talk about understanding and human relationships and then have somebody that I haven’t spoken to in 27 years. I’m so happy that we were able to make that reconciliation, and I hope other people can take something from it.”
Hubert then reunited with the rest of the cast — even meeting her replacement for the first time!