Will Smith has nothing but love for his late “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” co-star, James Avery.
During the HBO Max reunion of the show’s cast that premiered Wednesday, Smith recalled a moving moment he had with Avery, best known as Uncle Phil on the NBC sitcom, when they filmed a season four episode of the series which revolved around Will’s father coming back into his life.
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“I flubbed my line on the take and I messed it up in front of the audience, and my mind snapped and I’m like, ‘Ahhhh! Dammit!’ James says, ‘Hey! Right here!’” Smith said while pointing to his eyes the way Avery did to him.
“And I was like (motions paying attention). He was like, ‘Use me!’ And he says, ‘Get yourself together,’ and I get it together and I’m looking and he says, ‘Action.'”
A clip of the scene in question was then interspersed with Smith talking.
“And with the scene that we do, is the scene that ends being in the episode,” Smith said. “And I fall into his arms at the end of scene and he’s holding me and he’s holding me. And the shot pans off. He whispered into my ear and he said, ‘Now that’s acting,'” Smith said, while "Fresh Prince" co-star Tatyana Ali fought back tears.
Smith said Avery, who died in 2013 at the age of 68, brought out the best in him.
“James Avery was this 6-foot-4 Shakespearean beast and I wanted him to think I was good,” Smith said.
"He was my teacher; I learned what it means to be an artist from him," Ali said about Avery
Smith was joined in the reunion by Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro and DJ Jazzy Jeff for a conversation that took place on the set of the Banks’ living room.
The reunion was also notable for Smith making amends with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv before she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid, amid reports Smith and Hubert didn’t get along.
The two sealed their rift while talking through the issues that caused so much friction.
“I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you, celebrate your contribution to this show, celebrate your contribution to my life," Smith said.
"I have to say, after 27 years, being here today and having the conversation that Will and I had together, it's healing," Hubert said after their chat.