‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Reboot Casts Will Smith Role

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot has cast Jabari Banks in the lead role. The newcomer will take on the role of Will, originally played by Will Smith in the original ’90s sitcom, for the upcoming Peacock drama series Bel-Air, which gives a new take on the classic story of a kid from West Philadelphia traveling west to live with his rich relatives.

Set in modern times, the reboot follows Will’s journey from  the streets of West Philadelphia to the high-class society of Bel-Air after getting in trouble back home. Banks, like his character, currently lives in West Philadelphia, and graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2020 before being cast in the lead role — even getting the call from Smith himself.

“You’ve got a fantastic road ahead of you, and I’m looking forward to being an asset for you in this process as you build out your life and build out your career,” Smith told Banks, who called the opportunity “a dream come true” in the special moment captured in a Zoom recording.

The project was inspired by writer and director Morgan Cooper’s viral fan film  Bel-Air, which debuted a four-minute spec trailer in 2019 before catching the attention of Smith. Cooper serves as director, co-writer and executive producer on the project which has a two-season order. “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and that does not happen,” Smith previously said of the series order. “They ordered two full seasons of Bel-Air based on the quality of the pitch and the work that you guys have done.”

The original cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunited in November 2020 for a reunion on HBO Max, bringing together Daphne Maxwell Reid (Aunt Viv), Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), Tatyana Ali (Ashley), DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz) and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey). The special also honored the late James Avery, who played Uncle Phil.

Smith reflected on what made Fresh Prince so special three decades after it first aired during the reunion. ”The casting. It’s one of those things,” he said. “You cannot buy or fake chemistry. When people vibe, when people are in sync, in tune and in harmony, you can’t fake that. And when you have it, it creates magic.”


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