This "Fresh Prince" Star and Will Smith Just Reconciled After 27 Years
After nearly 30 years of feuding with Will Smith, Janet Hubert finally set the record straight.
Back in 1993, fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air recall tuning in for the show's third season and noticing that Aunt Viv looked different: The show had replaced actor Janet Hubert with another star, Daphne Maxwell Reid, as Will's (Will Smith) beloved aunt. At the time, the only reasoning given behind the departure was "creative differences." However, it seemed more complex than that seeing as ever since, Hubert and Smith have been feuding in the media about what went down. But we never knew the full story until now. Yes, 27 years after she left the iconic series, Will Smith and Janet Hubert finally sat down to clear the air on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion special that aired on HBO Max on Nov. 18.
At the start of their conversation, Smith admitted, "I don't know your story," to which Hubert responded, "I know, you have no idea. It was insane." Then she said, "I was never fired, [but] the misconception was always put out there."
So, if you'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, we'll tell you why Janet Hubert really left The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
And for more controversial exits, check out ABC Sitcom Star Quits, Calling Show a "Toxic Environment."
Read the original article on Best Life.
"They offered me this really bad deal in the third season," Hubert said.
After becoming one of the show's favorite characters during the first two seasons, Hubert claims that there was conflict when it came time to negotiate her contract for Season 3 contract.
"They offered me this really bad deal in the third season. They said, 'You've got two months and two weeks of work and you cannot work anywhere else,'" Hubert rehashed during the Fresh Prince reunion special. "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."
While she wasn't fired, she felt like she was forced into leaving—especially when she was told that she was replaceable. "I was trapped—what could I do? They said, 'OK, then we're going to recast your role,'" she explained. "I was hurt, deeply. Deeply." And for more recastings TV tried to pull over on us, check out 16 TV Actors Who Were Replaced Like It Was No Big Deal.
Unaware, Smith smeared Hubert in the press, insinuating she was a diva.
Smith, who we now know was unaware of the details of Hubert's departure, told an Atlanta radio station at the time that the reasoning behind his onscreen aunt's departure was that didn't she feel as though she was getting enough attention.
"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," Smith said, per Us Weekly. "She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. 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.'" And for more feuds that have surfaced once more, check out This Former "Grey's Anatomy" Star Just Reignited a 15-Year-Old Feud.
In 2009, Hubert asked Smith and his partner to help clear her name.
In a 2016 interview with The Real, Hubert revealed that she went back to Smith's longtime business partner, James Lassiter, in 2009, and asked them to "clear" her name. "I spoke to J.L. when my dad died and my brother died, and I begged them. I said, 'I have a family. I need you to tell the world that this stuff didn't happen,'" she recalled. "And I was waiting in my heart, thinking somebody would come to me one day and help me, but they didn't. Because I had been trained as a young woman, you always have your dignity … but I realized that redemption was not gonna come unless I did it myself." And for more behind-the-scenes drama, check out Kaley Cuoco Says "Big Bang" Gave Her Love Scenes With Her Ex "On Purpose."
When that didn't happen, Hubert continued to malign Smith as recently as 2016.
Clearly, Hubert still had animosity for Smith years later. In 2011, she slammed the superstar to TMZ, saying, "There will never be a reunion … as I will never do anything with an a****** like Will Smith," she spat. "He is still an egomaniac and has not grown up. This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, which he doesn't know the word."
In 2016, Hubert posted a video on YouTube in which she attacked both Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, amid the 2016 Oscars boycott over a lack of diversity among the nominees. In the video, she revealed that Smith refused to support her when she and the other Fresh Prince costars asked for a raise. "I seem to remember at option time, coming to you and saying … 'With you, maybe we can get a little raise.' … [We thought] your influence would help us greatly like they did on Friends," she said. However, Hubert claims Smith opted to stay out of it, telling her: "'My deal is my deal, and y'alls deal is y'alls deal.'"
Later that year, on The Real, Hubert, speaking in the third person said: "Janet Hubert was never difficult on that set. Janet Hubert was so professional, it wasn't even funny. I think Will simply needed to win, and I think sometimes when you get caught up in a lie and those things never happened. She never left the set. I never left the set. We got along great."
Hubert added: "I think he was young and he was inexperienced." And for another upcoming reunion, find out Why There's Already Backlash About the "Friends" Reunion Special.
Now, she has finally been given a chance to tell her side of the story and reconcile with Smith.
During HBO Max's Fresh Prince reunion, Hubert and Smith were finally able to discuss the 27-year-old feud in a constructive manner. She explained to her former onscreen nephew that what he said about her following her departure hurt not only her feelings, but also her career. She also revealed that her struggles on the set had nothing to do with the show, but the fact that she was in a "very abusive marriage."
In a confessional, Smith admitted: "During that time, 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."
Hubert explained to Smith, now 52: "When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one. Family disowned me, Hollywood disowned me. My family said, 'You ruined our name.'"
Smith told her he now understands. "I have children, I've been divorced, I've had a second marriage," he responded. "And I can see now the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up every day."
"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," Hubert continued. "And it's hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business." And for more racially charged entertainment that's since been under fire, check out 11 Classic '90s Movies That Have Been Called Out for Racism.
Smith and Hubert finally put their feud to rest.
After nearly three decades, Hubert explained that it was time to patch things up. "I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward, and I'm sorry that I have blasted you to pieces," she said. Smith also apologized and expressed his admiration for her.
"First of all, thank you for sharing that with me. I didn't know that," Smith responded. "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 the show, celebrate your contribution to my life."
In a confessional after their conversation, Hubert admitted the conversation was "healing." "I have to say, after 27 years, being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together—it's healing," she said. "I don't know if it's real. I feel like this is a dream. I didn't come here to have animosity, I came here to resolve, 'cause it's time." And for more on Smith and his co-stars today, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.