Janet Hubert on 'Fresh Prince' reunion, Will Smith feud: 'I'm not interested in starting World War III'
It's been almost 20 years, but there appears to still be bad blood between Will and Aunt Viv.
Actor Will Smith, 43, had last week posted a photo on his Facebook page showing him standing next to James Avery, Tatiana Ali, Karyn Parsons and Alfonso Ribeiro, several of his former co-stars from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," the 1990s comedy series that made him famous.
Janet Hubert, who left her role as the feisty Aunt Vivian following a contract dispute, and Daphne Reid, who replaced her, were not among them. Hubert was recently quoted by told TMZ.com as saying that she personally will "never do anything" with Smith, who she called "an egomaniac," and that she refuses to participate in a show reunion unless "there is an apology" from him.
Hubert told OnTheRedCarpet.com on Wednesday, December 28: "I've kind of had enough and I'm a little tired and if he wants a real reunion, then it's a very simple thing to do," she said. "I'm really not interested in starting World War III all over again with this."
Smith's spokesperson had no immediate comment about Hubert's latest remarks.
Hubert, 55, left the hit NBC series in 1993 after three seasons and just months after she gave birth to her first and only child, her son Elijah. She said NBC wanted to reduce her salary and cut her out of several episodes. The network had said it was unable to reach an agreement on her contract.
"I was hurt and disappointed," Hubert told the Los Angeles Times at the time. "I'd worked hard and I never saw that coming."
In December 1993, Hubert sued NBC and Smith for slander, negligence and emotional distress. She said the actor influenced NBC to cut her salary and air time, acted hostile towards her after she became pregnant with her son and accused him of slandering her in on-air interviews, which she said hurt her marketability. The lawsuit was unsuccessful.
WAR OF WORDS
Hubert told Jet magazine in 1993 that while she was "extremely moody" on the set at the time, she "was loyal and worked up to the day I delivered my son." She also said she "reprimanded" Smith constantly for "being rude to people and locking himself up in his room." He did not comment about her remarks.
Smith, now an Oscar nominee and a father himself, talked about Hubert's departure from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in an interview with Atlanta's WVEE-FM radio station in July 1993, according to the Atlanta Journal. At the time, he was promoting his hit rap sing, "Boom! Shake The Room."
"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," Smith said.
"She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing," he added. "She's mad now but she's been mad all along. 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."
Smith said in a 1996 interview with Ebony magazine that he was not to blame for the departure of Hubert, who he called "an incredible actress" who "brought so much spirit and fun and warmth to 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.'"
"Of course, there was pain in her not returning to the show and all that, but then there was the thing that she thought it was me," he said. "That kind of irritated me a little bit, but people will make their own beds and they are going to have to sleep in them. I never have anything to do with it. She just never believed that."
'PERFECTION IS NOT A SITCOM MOM'
In her book, "Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom," released in August 2009, Hubert described her turbulent professional relationship with Smith behind the scenes.
"I was told to remain in my dressing room by Will," Hubert told ABC News months after the book was released. "Because I didn't make him happy. I didn't laugh at his jokes ... off camera, things like that. I got very quiet because most of the cast didn't know this. We were close but we were not that close. Also, I was pregnant at the time and there was not much leniency or understanding of a 37-year-old pregnant woman working on the set."
She said she was inspired to open up about her departure and past relationship with Smith after watching a YouTube video of Alfonso Ribeiro at a college campus saying "some extremely unkind" and "untrue" things regarding her departure from the show.
Hubert did not elaborate more about the clip. The actor told students at the State University of New York at Oneonta in January 2009 that he thinks Hubert "went nuts."
"Legally I'm not allowed to talk about it. But hey! Why not!" he said. "There were days when we were all on the set and she would literally go off on people and it got to a point, by the time the second season around, where we're like, 'This is unacceptable.' She made it very difficult for us to work."
Hubert continued to act following her departure from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
She starred in episodes of shows such as "Friends," "NYPD Blue," "Gilmore Girls" and "All My Children" and also appeared in the off-Broadway play "Crowns" in 2002.
Hubert began playing the recurring role of Mrs. Williamson on the soap opera "One Life To Live" in 2005. She last appeared on the series in 2010. The ABC show is set to air its final episode on Jan. 13, 2012. Also in 2010, Hubert published a children's book called "J.G. and the B.C. Kids (A Sneaker Feature)."