*Will Smith and actress Janet Hubert reunited for the first time in 27 years for the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunion.
“After 27 years, being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together, it’s healing,” Hubert said during the taping with Smith, Today.com reports.
Hubert originally played Aunt Viv for three seasons before she was replaced by Maxwell Reid. The actress previously criticized both the series and Smith, blaming him for her allegedly being blacklisted in Hollywood. Reports of a feud between Hubert and Smith have circulated over the 27 years since.
“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,” Smith tells co-stars Reid, Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), Tatyana Ali (Ashley), DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz) and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey) in the reunion taping.
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In the clip, Smith says to Hubert, “I don’t know your story,” before Hubert explains her story.
“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,” Hubert says. “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.”
“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,” Smith says.
“They offered me this really bad deal in the third season,” Hubert says. “They said, ‘You’ve got two months and two weeks of work, and you cannot work anywhere else.’ So that meant my salary was cut, I had a new baby and a husband who was out of work. So, I said no, I did not accept their offer. I was never fired. So the misconception was always put out there.”
“When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one,” Hubert tells Smith. “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.”
“I was 21 years old,” Smith tells Hubert. “Everything was a threat to me.”
“What you didn’t realize either is that I was going through a lot at home,” Hubert tells Smith. “You didn’t know. You guys didn’t know — very abusive marriage.”
“I can see now, the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up every day,” Smith says.
“But you took all that away from me, with your words,” Hubert responds. “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. But I have felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward, and I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.”
“Thank you for sharing that with me,” Smith tells Hubert. “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.” The pair then embrace.
“I have to say, after 27 years, being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together, it’s healing,” Hubert says afterward.
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” is out on HBO Max now.