Will Smith hypes Bel-Air, the reimagined version of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, saying it’s perfectly balanced. Smith played The Fresh Prince in the titular sitcom for six seasons on NBC from 1990 through 1996, which launched the actor/musician into superstardom. The show focused on Smith’s character moving from West Philly to Los Angeles to live with his wealthy uncle after tensions with living on the rough streets affect his life. The show soared in popularity, spawning a number of memorable episodes, catchphrases, characters and theme song that are still referenced today.
The upcoming Bel-Air is a dramatic reimagining of the sitcom, which retells Will’s story in a more realistic fashion without the laugh track and studio audience. The new show is created by Morgan Cooper with newcomer Jabari Banks taking on the lead role of Will. Additional cast members include Olly Sholotan as Carlton, Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz, Simone Joy Jones as Lisa, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, and Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey. Smith serves as an executive producer on the series, staying involved from behind the scenes.
Smith has been involved with the show ever since its inception, even sharing the call he made to Banks, telling him he got the lead role. Talking to Deadline, Smith hyped up the new take on the show, emphasizing his name as executive producer, saying, “We’re stepping out with this beloved title and I’m ecstatic with what has been created.” Smith goes on to explain that the show has a strong balance of nostalgia and drama, which was no easy feat for the showrunner, but he believes they pulled it off. Here’s his full comment:
“The pilot for Bel-Air is all the nostalgia you’re going to want, but there are parts where you’re going to stand up and cheer and hold your mouth. It’s such a perfect balance and a reimagining of this world. It’s going to be like, duh, yes, of course there’s a dramatic version of this story. Of course that would be brilliant. It’s like you’re in a new place and at home at the same time, and that’s such a difficult thing to pull off for [creator] Morgan Cooper and the team. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Smith has had a tremendous career since his tenure on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, becoming one of the most successful actors of all time, starring in a string of hits, including Independence Day, Men In Black, I Am Legend, Ali, Suicide Squad, the Bad Boys franchise, and many more. The actor was just nominated for an Oscar for a third time for his role in last year’s King Richard and will next be seen in Antoine Fuqua’s slave drama, Emancipation.
It’s unclear how big of an impact the new Bel-Air will have with audiences, but Smith’s enthusiasm does help drive anticipation. Obviously, he has a vested interest being an executive producer, but it’s unlikely he’d gush over a project he didn’t believe in. Fans of the sitcom are sure to tune in over curiosity, but whether or not they stick around is another story. However, knowing that there will be at least two seasons can give viewers enough incentive to give it a shot, as the long haul can be a big contributing factor in terms of what audiences will invest in, especially for streaming. Bel-Air debuts on February 13 on Peacock.