When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air returns to television for a reunion special on November 19, there will be one significant addition to the cast: the original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert! Janet left the sitcom in 1993 due to so-called “creative differences,” and was swiftly replaced without any mention by Daphne Maxwell Reid. Rumors of bad blood on the Fresh Prince set were later confirmed, with the actress and star Will Smith butting heads publicly for the following three decades.
But — it’s all come to a peaceful end. Will revealed in September 2020 that he and Janet had buried the hatchet by posting a sweet photo of themselves chatting on the reunion set. It was an absolute shock to fans, who never thought the day would come. Janet historically blamed Will for her ouster from the very beginning, and he was critical about her alleged behavior during the first three seasons of Fresh Prince.
“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,” Will told an Atlanta radio station in 1993. 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.’ No matter what, to her I’m just the Antichrist.” And he was right; Janey didn’t let it go for nearly 30 years.
Janet multiple times has vowed that she would never do a Fresh Prince reunion, first alleging in 1993 that Will and Alfonso Ribeiro (who played her son, Carlton Banks) “destroyed a 20-year-career with untruths. She later wrote in her 2010 memoir, Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom, that she wasn’t booted from the show, but had attempted to renegotiate her contract for season four and decided to leave when her terms were not met. The following year, she reignited her feud with Will and took it to new heights.
Key members of the Fresh Prince cast reunited for a charity event in 2011, and Will posted an adorable photo to Facebook captioned, “There’s nothin’ like spending Holidays with fam!” Janet lashed out while speaking to TMZ soon afterward: “There will never be a reunion… as I will never do anything with an a**hole like Will Smith,” she said. “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.”
It was clear by 2016 that things still weren’t good between Janet and Will when she slammed his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, for pledging to boycott the Oscars that year. “First of all, Miss Thing,” she said, “does your man not have a mouth of his own with which to speak?” Apparently, it’s all in the past now, though. The Fresh Prince reunion will reportedly include a heartfelt conversation between Will and Janet where they finally clear the air.
Will, Janet, Daphne, and Alfonso will be joined by co-stars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, and DJ Jazzy Jeff when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special hits HBO Max on November 19. James Avery, who played Uncle Phil, sadly passed away in 2013.