Janet Hubert‘s exit from the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” came as a massive blow for the actress and resulted in a two-decade-long feud with her former co-star Will Smith. However, after nearly 27 years of not speaking to each other, the two stars have finally made amends.
During the popular ’90s show’s reunion special, which debuted on HBO Max on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Hubert and Smith shared a heart-to-heart conversation about what life was like for the “New Eden” actress following her departure. This discussion took place in front of former co-stars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid, and Alfonso Ribeiro.
“We never really together publicly talk about Janet and what happened,” Smith told the other cast members. “And for me, it felt like I couldn’t celebrate 30 years of ‘Fresh Prince’ without finding a way to celebrate Janet. So she agreed to sit down and have a conversation with me. And Janet and I saw one another for the first time in 27 years yesterday.”
The 64-year-old actress explained that she got pregnant during the third season, and things weren’t going well in her personal life. “Home life was not good at all. I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things going on that nobody knew about. Cast had no idea what was going on,” she said.
Hubert revealed that her then-husband was abusive and unemployed, which ultimately created a shift in her demeanor on the set. The actress said she was never “unprofessional” on set, just more reserved. “I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me. Because you were Will,” Hubert said.
Smith admitted that he could have been more “sensitive” to Hubert. “I was 21 years old. Everything was a threat to me,” the actor explained. Smith said that at the time he wasn’t perceptive, explaining, “I can see why I made the set very difficult for Janet.”
According to the actress, the show’s team cut her salary after the third season and offered her a “really bad deal.” Hubert said she wasn’t actually fired but felt she had no choice but to reject the offer, which led to her being replaced by Reid until the show’s finale in 1996.
The “General Hospital” actress also noted that the experience made her feel “disowned” by Hollywood. While Smith’s career flourished after the show and he became a household name, Hubert’s Hollywood star wound up being much dimmer.
“You took all of that away from me with your words,” Hubert told Smith. She added, “Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, everything. I understand you were able to move forward. You know those words — calling a Black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.
Nevertheless, Hubert felt “it was necessary” for them to finally move on. She also apologized for blasting the “Men in Black” star in the media over the years, to which he accepted and vowed to protect the actress moving forward. He added, “You’re still my Aunt Viv.”
All six seasons of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and the reunion special are currently available to view on HBO Max.