Will Smith shared more footage from HBO Max's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion in the latest episode of Red Table Talk Friday and opened up about the emotional shoot with Janet Hubert, the first actress to play Aunt Viv on the show. Smith took over Red Table Talk, usually hosted by his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, to discuss the difficult reunion with clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula. The Men in Black actor teared up as the two broke down Smith's decisions that led to Hubert leaving Fresh Prince and their reunion years later.
"At first, we were all just one big happy family. But as time went on, our relationship soured and I handled it poorly," Smith admitted in a confessional shown in Red Table Talk, notes TooFab. Hubert, who appeared in the show's first three seasons, said Smith was "young, he was out of control in his own way, he had all this power." Hubert said she needed "professionalism" on the set, but she did not get that from Smith. He said he "wasn't perceptive and, ultimately, I wasn't kind."
Smith said the tension between himself and Hubert led to her role being reduced on the show. "As the oldest woman on that set, there's that respect level that I just needed to have of being an older woman, a Black woman," Hubert explained. "I had been banished and they said it was you who banished me because I didn't laugh at your jokes. Then they ordered me to stay in my room, I couldn't come out on the stage. And I wasn't unprofessional on the set, I just stopped talking to everybody."
During their reunion, Hubert asked Smith if he knew about an offer she received, which covered just two months and two weeks of work, and told her she could not work elsewhere when she wasn't on the Fresh Prince set. Smith said he was not aware of the details, but he understood why she would turn that down. Hubert then confronted Smith with the consequences she faced from his actions.
"Black people beat my ass. They beat my son's ass. Somebody smashed a cookie in my son's face and said, 'Your mother is a b—.' People send me hateful Instagrams, 'Aren't you dead yet?' 'I love Will, why don't you just die?' It was hard," Hubert revealed. "I promised my dad I would clear my name because it's his name and my family said you've ruined our name."
At this point, Smith needed a tissue to wipe away tears. Hubert became emotional as well, and they walked off the set for a moment outside. When they came back, Smith said he "didn't realize the power" of his words and said it was "all way too far on my end." He said he would protect her from now on whenever someone attacks her.0comments
After showing the scenes, Durvasula and Smith broke down his behavior at the time. Smith credited some of his childish behavior at the time to having an abusive father growing up. "A part of the whole creation of Will Smith, the joking, fun, silly was to make sure that my father was entertained enough not to hurt my mother or anybody in the house," he said, later adding that he "desperately" wanted Hubert's approval. He realized his relationship with his on-screen family was becoming similar to the one with his real-life family.
"At that point in my career, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air really saved my life. I lost all my money, I didn't pay taxes, I was in debt to the IRS, I flopped an album and The Fresh Prince represented life," Smith said. "I needed mommy to think I was great and once I realized that she didn't, my dragon woke up," Smith added, referring to Hubert. Smith said his behavior with Hubert was "flawed and hurtful." Amith also said female disapproval was a "central wound" in his life and he was working on confronting that with his wife and daughter Willow. "You have to be able to withstand someone else's truth," Durvasula told Smith.