Surprise! The OG Aunt Viv Is Back for the ‘Fresh Prince’ Reunion
Janet Hubert is in Will Smith's BTS pics—cue the dramatic music.
Will and Aunt Vivian The First are burying the hatchet. Ahead of the unscripted 30th reunion of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air cast, Will Smith posted a behind-the-scenes photo of himself and Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv for the first three seasons. Those familiar with Fresh Prince lore will have already raised their brows: But I thought they hated each other? Well, they did...do? We suppose we'll have to watch the HBO Max special to find out.
"Today is exactly 30 YEARS since The @FreshPrince of Bel-Air debuted!" Smith captioned his September 10th Instagram post. "So we’re doin’ something for y’all… a for real Banks Family Reunion is comin’ soon to @HBOmax!" Smith also included, "RIP James," recognizing the late James Avery, who played Uncle Phil.
In the second photo of his Instagram post, Smith is sitting down next to Hubert, who was famously replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid in 1993.
The reason for Hubert's departure from the show is unknown, with some reports claiming that her real-life pregnancy in 1992 (which was integrated into the show) breached her Fresh Prince contract.
According to ScreenRant, the pregnancy was likely not the actual reason for Hubert's firing after the third season. More likely, her feud with Will Smith (and, later, the rest of the Fresh Prince cast) was. In her 2009 memoir, Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom, Hubert said that Smith requested her firing, thus "ruining" her entire career.
And though that's a large claim, Smith confirmed he and Hubert were not friends while filming the first three seasons of Fresh Prince. In a 1993 interview with an Atlanta radio station, Smith said, per E! News, "I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be 'The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show' because I know she is going to dog me in the press...She's mad now but she's been mad all along."
"She said once, 'I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.' No matter what, to her I'm just the Antichrist," Smith continued.
However, Hubert didn't have a beef with Smith alone. She reportedly burned bridges with pretty much every Fresh Prince cast member. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks, said during a 2009 stand-up set, "Basically, at the end of the day, the [he censored himself] was crazy," referring to Hubert, whom he said "went nuts."
"There were days when we were all on the set, and she would literally go off on people and...by the time the second season came around where we're like, 'This is unacceptable,'" Ribeiro continued, per E! News. "She made it very difficult for us to work, and unfortunately she was then fired."
After years of name-calling, call-outs, clapbacks, and zingers, it looks like Smith and Hubert are finally ready to heal their relationship and bring fans along for the ride. Hopefully this is the end of an era in the best way possible.