More information is being told on why The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air had two different actresses play Aunt Viv.
On the beloved classic sitcom, Janet Hubert played Aunt Viv for seasons one – three and Daphne Maxwell Reid was on it until it ended in season six. The reason for the switch is because, behind the scenes, Janet had issues with Will Smith.
Madame Noire reports Joseph Marcell, who played the role of Geoffrey on the show, recently appeared on a podcast and spoke about his ties with Janet. He said they were very close, he respected her and thought highly of her. He spoke about the off-camera drama that caused Janet to leave and said he believes she had a hard time with Will being the focus of the show.
“The show is called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the leading actor, the name that comes first is Will Smith and that’s how it is and that’s how it should be. I feel that perhaps Janet was not able to deal with that.”
Joseph also said that the tension between Janet and Will got so bad that he was in the middle of it at times, trying to find a solution. He also said he advised Janet to be honest about what she wanted but to understand that Will is the star of the show. But by this point, Joseph was already getting calls from Will and James Avery (Uncle Phil) asking if they should “get rid” of Janet.
“I was in London and I got a call. I got a call from Will, and I got a call from James Avery and I got a call from Janet. Will was asking me what do I think. Should Janet leave? Should he get rid of her? Should he support her? I said you have to do what you have to do and if you must speak to Janet, you must sit her down and the two of you iron out your differences and come to a point of reconciliation.”
When Joseph spoke to Janet, he told her that it’s Will’s show and he’s “given you as best.”
“You have to look at it the way it’s set up. It’s Will’s show and he’s given you as best, I’m sure he could give you more, but you are the female lead of the show. You really are. Ask for more money, just don’t create a political impasse where in the end, you are the one who’s going to suffer. And those were the words I used. And that was it.”
Joseph found out from Will that a deal couldn’t be reached which is what led to Janet leaving. She reportedly changed her mind days later but the deal was no longer on the table. Back in 2016, Janet appeared on The Real and spoke about the departure. She said,
“I think Will simply needed to win, and I think sometimes when you get caught up in a lie and those things never happened.”
She went on the way that he was “young” and “inexperienced.”