Original Aunt Viv actress Janet Hubert joins Will Smith for Fresh Prince reunion special
The original Aunt Viv is back!
On Thursday, the 30th anniversary of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's premiere, Will Smith shared photos from the sitcom's upcoming HBO Max reunion, which just began filming. And in a pleasant surprise, Smith revealed that he sat down with Janet Hubert, the actress who originated the role of Will's Aunt Vivian on the show, for the first time in 27 years.
"Today is exactly 30 YEARS since The @FreshPrince of Bel-Air debuted!" Smith wrote on Instagram. "So we're doin' something for y'all… a for real Banks Family Reunion is comin' soon to @HBOmax! RIP James. #FreshPrince30th"
Smith, who of course played the show's title role, posted a group photo with his former costars who had already been announced as participating in the reunion. Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and DJ Jazzy Jeff all posed with the actor on set, which recreates the Banks' home from Fresh Prince. Smith also gave a shout-out to James Avery, who died in 2014 and portrayed Will's Uncle Phil.
In a second photo, Smith is seen sitting with Hubert as both actors smile during a conversation. This may shock fans, as Hubert, who was replaced by Reid in season 4, has publicly criticized Smith and the show numerous times throughout the years. Hubert has evidently changed her tune from 2011, when she said, "There will never be a reunion." In the past, the actress has slammed Smith for being an "egomaniac" and even for being responsible for her firing from Fresh Prince. Smith has also hit back, claiming that Hubert wanted the show to be "The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air."
But it seems the two were willing to put aside their differences. While it doesn't appear that Hubert will join the rest of the cast for the reunion, her segment with Smith, an "emotional reunion and a candid conversation," will be part of the televised event, HBO Max said in a news release.
The streamer has described the special as "a funny and heartfelt night full of music, dancing, and special surprise guests, in honor of the series that ran for six seasons and 148 episodes."
Developed by Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith's media company Westbrook Media, the reunion will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic series by looking back at the show and the cultural impact it's had since its debut. It is being directed by Marcus Raboy and executive-produced by showrunner Rikki Hughes, Miguel Melendez, Lukas Kaiser, and Brad Haugen.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special will launch exclusively on HBO Max around Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, a dramatic reboot of the show has landed a two-season order at Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service.