Ever since it was announced back in late August, there’s been one major question circling HBO Max’s cast reunion for The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air: What about Aunt Viv? That is to say, what about the first Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert, who departed the series after its third season (amid lots of rumors and news stories about on-set conflicts with star Will Smith), and who’s spent the intervening years making public knowledge out of her distaste for Smith and several other of her former castmates. When HBO Max announced the special, there was no mention of Hubert, unsurprisingly, although Daphne Maxwell Reid, who took over the Aunt Viv role for the second half of the show, was, of course, included.
Legitimately shocking, then, to see the photos the streaming service released this afternoon, revealing not just the standard reunion shots everyone was expecting, but also one of a one-on-one conversation between Smith and Hubert that was apparently filmed this week. Described as an “emotional reunion and a candid conversation,” the sit-down was apparently the first time the two actors had spoken in any serious way in 27 years. That, not coincidentally, is a time period that’s seen Hubert—who still works semi-regularly, including a recent regular gig on General Hospital, in addition to her work as an activist and artist—write a book demonizing Smith, and state (in a since-deleted social media post attached to a photo taken by some of the cast back in 2017) that “There will never be a true reunion of The Fresh Prince.”
Which, again, immediately makes her willingness to sit down and talk with Smith infinitely more interesting than just seeing how DJ Jazzy Jeff is doing. (He looks good, though!) The HBO Max special was already expected to spend a decent amount of time paying tribute to Uncle Phil actor James Avery, who died in 2013. Now, though, it’s going to offer fans of the show what could prove to be a far more potent blast from the past to go along with all the fonder memories. The special is recording this week, and expected to air around Thanksgiving.