Will Smith and Janet Hubert finally hashed out their feud which has been running since her departure from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
Janet, 64, played Aunt Viv on the first three seasons of the sitcom but left in 1993, setting off a public war of words with Will and the collapse of her career.
Now on a new reunion special with HBO Max she and Will, 52, talked emotionally through their past difficulties as she told him: ‘I lost everything.’
Talking it out: On a new HBO Max reunion special, Will Smith and Janet Hubert hashed out their feud which has been running 27 years since her departure from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Will and Janet had a one-on-one conversation in a movie theater setting, separate from the general cast reunion in a recreation of the sitcom’s living room set.
‘I just wanted to know one thing: why, why so far? You guys went so far. I lost so much,’ she said to Will of their feud. ‘How do we heal that?’
Will suggested that he should ‘know your story,’ and Janet said: ‘You have no idea,’ adding that the experience ‘was insane’ for her.
While filming season three Janet was pregnant with her son Elijah – and on the reunion special she alleged she was in a ‘very abusive marriage’ at the time.
The way they were: Janet, 64, played Aunt Viv on the first three seasons of the sitcom but left in 1993, setting off a public war of words with Will and the collapse of her career
At that point Janet was with her first husband James Whitten, whom she ultimately divorced in 1994, the year after she left The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
She said in a confessional that when she was working during her tough pregnancy: ‘I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking, because there were things that were going on that nobody knew about. The cast had no idea what was going on.’
‘You know, during that time of her pregnancy I wasn’t sensitive. I wasn’t perceptive,’ Will admitted in his own confessional. ‘And you know, now that I’ve had three kids I’ve learned some things that I did not know at the time and I would do things very differently, but I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.’
Janet also denied the reports that she was fired, saying she left over a ‘really bad deal’ that limited the amount of work she could do on the sitcom while also hemming her into a non-compete arrangement.
Together again: Will and Janet had a one-on-one conversation in a movie theater setting, separate from the general cast reunion (pictured)
‘So that meant my salary was cut. I had a new baby and a husband who was out of work. So I said no. I did not accept their offer. I was never fired,’ she insisted.
She told Will that ‘when I left the show I had this new baby and no one. Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me. My family said: “You’ve ruined our name.”‘
Janet added: ‘And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I’d been banished, and they said it was you who banished me, because you were Will. You were a kid. It was hard.’
‘I was 21 years old, you know. Everything was a threat to me,’ said Will slowly, and when Janet asked why she was in that category he said: ‘Not you, the world. I was so driven by fear – and jokes and comedy.’
Throwback: Janet is pictured in a publicity still from the show with (left to right, top to bottom) Joseph Marcell, James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali and Karyn Parsons
The Hollywood heartthrob said that in the intervening years, divorce, remarriage and parenthood have enabled him to ‘see now the level and pain and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up everyday, and then – ‘
‘But you took all that away from me with your words,’ Janet interjected. ‘You know, words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation, everything. Everything. And I understand you were able to move forward, but you know those words, calling a black woman “difficult” in Hollywood is the kiss of death.’
She went on: ‘It’s the kiss of death, and it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned black woman in this business. But I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward – and I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces,’ she added with a laugh.
Janet struggled to hold back her tears as Will thanked her for her side of the story and said: ‘When I look back now it’s, you know, it’s obvious that you were having a hard time and I felt like you hated me.’
Repose: Joseph, James, Alfonso, Tyler Collins, Kadeem Hardison, Will, Quincy JOnes, Al B. Sure!, Tatyana, Janet and Karyn are pictured during a shoot day on the show in 1990
She touched his cheek and he placed a hand on her shoulder while he said: ‘I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you – celebrate your contribution to the show, celebrate your contribution to my life.’
‘I didn’t come here to have animosity. I came here to resolve ’cause it’s time,’ she said in a confessional, calling her conversation with Will ‘healing.’
Will’s chat with Janet was taped in September after she posted to her Instagram fan page urging him to discuss their problems with her face to face.
Dearly departed: The reunion had to take place in the absence of James Avery who died of complications from an open heart surgery in 2013 at the age of just 68
‘So September comes after August it’s the 30th anniversary a Fresh Prince. And they want to start a war. Well here is my challenge – we can either keep this war going for another 30 years but I’m not going to, or you can sit down with me and talk to me and not about me Mr. Smith then let’s do it,’ wrote Janet.
‘Can you only sit and talk about your strange unsavory problems in front of the world?’ she said, apparently having a dig at Will’s recent Red Table Talk with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith about her affair with R&B singer August Alsina.
‘Accept my challenge or shut up! Either you’re telling the truth and the BLACK MEN of the cast are telling the truth or I’m telling the truth. And only YOU and I… and quite a few others, know the truth let’s do this do YOU have the courage? #seeyouinseptember,’ Janet concluded
‘Well here is my challenge’: Will’s chat with Janet was taped in September after she posted to her Instagram fan page urging him to discuss their problems with her face to face
Will apparently accepted her challenge as the pair sat down for the reunion taping this September 9, 30 years to the day since the show premiered.
Janet had publicly held Will responsible for her exit from the show, calling him an ‘egomaniac’ during a 2011 interview where she said a reunion was off the table.
‘There will never be a reunion…as I will never do anything with an a**hole like Will Smith,’ she declared to TMZ, adding that ‘This constant reunion thing will never ever happen in my lifetime unless there is an apology, which he doesn’t know the word.’
Five years later she said on YouTube that while on the show she approached Will to help her and their co-stars negotiate a wage hike ‘like they did on Friends.’
‘Janet Hubert was never difficult on that set’: Four years ago Janet appeared on The Real and discussed the aftermath of her departure from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
She claimed that Will rebuffed her efforts, alleging that he told her: ‘My deal is my deal and y’all’s deal is y’all’s deal.’
‘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 said on the radio in Atlanta the year she left the series.
‘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,’ he added.
‘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.’
‘A**hole’: Janet has in the past held Will responsible for her departure from the show, calling him an ‘egomaniac’ during a 2011 interview where she said a reunion was off the table
Four years ago Janet appeared on The Real and discussed the aftermath of her departure from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
‘Janet Hubert was never difficult on that set. Janet Hubert was so professional it wasn’t even funny. I think Will simply needed to win and I think sometimes when you get caught up in a lie – and those things never happened,’ Janet insisted.
‘She never left the set. I never left the set. We got along great. I think he was young and he was inexperienced and I think he simply had to win.’
Referring to Will’s then-manager James Lassiter she said: ‘I spoke to JL when my dad died and my brother died and I begged them, I said: “I have a family. I need you to tell the world that this stuff didn’t happen.” And I was waiting in my heart thinking: “Somebody will come to me one day and help me,” but they didn’t.’