Finally seeing eye to eye. Will Smith and Janet Hubert put their rocky past behind them during the emotional Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast reunion.
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On Wednesday, November 18, the former costars reflected on their time together on the 1990s sitcom in an all-new HBO Max special — and addressed their history of ups and downs for the first time in nearly 30 years. Smith, 52, has had a tense relationship with Hubert, 64, since the actress’ departure from Fresh Prince after three seasons in 1993.
“We never really publicly talk about Janet and what happened,” the Gemini Man star said on Wednesday before embracing the Chicago native in a hug. “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.”
Hubert starred as Aunt Viv in the long-running family comedy. After her exit from the show, Daphne Maxwell Reid took over the role for the remaining three seasons.
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“During that third season when I got pregnant, there [were] a lot of things going on in my life and Will’s life as well,” Hubert recalled, also claiming that her salary was slashed after the third season of Fresh Prince. “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.”
Looking back now, Smith admitted that he “wasn’t sensitive” to Hubert during her pregnancy. “Now that I’ve had three kids, I’ve learned some things I did not know at the time,” he said. “I would do things very differently. I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”
Over the years, the former costars have faced off in the media. When asked about the possibility of reuniting with the rest of the Fresh Prince crew in 2011, Hubert told TMZ that she would “never do anything with an a–hole like Will Smith” ever again.
As they reflected on their feud, the General Hospital actress said that she had felt as though Smith had “banished” her from the Fresh Prince family.
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“You took all that away from me with your words,” she told the Bad Boys for Life actor. “Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, everything. I understand you were able to move forward. … 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 and Hubert shared their powerful moment in front of fellow series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell and Alfonso Ribeiro, who pulled them in for a group hug after the duo’s apologies.
“The person I want to be is someone who protects you,” Smith concluded. “Not someone that unleashes dogs on you.”
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