Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reboot Casts Young Will Smith
The dramatic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot coming to Peacock has cast an actor in the role played by Will Smith. Newcomer actor Jabari Banks will play "Will" and got the life-changing casting news from Will Smith himself. The casting gets even more meta due to the fact that Jabari Banks is named "Banks" (the surname of Will's Bel-Air relatives in the show) and he actually is from West Philadelphia, born and raised. He graduated University of the Arts in Philadelphia last year, and is a musician ("singer, songwriter, rapper,") and basketball player, in addition to acting. In short: he's like a composite of Will Smith's onscreen and real-life Fresh Prince personas come to life.
This Fresh Prince reboot Bel-Air is based on the viral YouTube video by Morgan Cooper. Cooper and Smith have teamed up for the reboot, which will imagine the story of "Will" coming from West Philadelphia to Bel-Air, California, and his rich uncle's home from a much more intense dramatic angle. Race, status, sports, and family bonds (and/or traumas) were all a part of Cooper's trailer, and presumably will be part of this full reboot series, as well. It's no coincidence that Jabari Banks has some basketball skills: Cooper's trailer made Will's basketball stardom a major part of his enrollment at Bel-Air Academy.
"I grew up watching the show," Morgan previously said. "It's something that ever since I was a five I remember watching it and I remember seeing what you did onscreen, so it's always been a part of me. And so I remember driving down 71 in Kansas City and I was just thinking about the show, and I remember driving under this overpass and I would say I drove under it and when I came out I had the idea. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I knew I had to tell that story."
"That's what I'm most excited about and what really clicked in my mind when I saw the trailer that Morgan did," Will Smith said. "The concepts in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reimagined as a drama, like a real kid from West Philadelphia, modern-day, a black family in Bel-Air, the Carlton character, a black, young Republican, modern-day. The heat that would be stirred up between these characters it's like, What's the Hilary character in a world of Instagram and social media? What does that become? Uncle Phil a black lawyer turned judge, today with young black kids coming before him? Aunt Viv, a professional woman that decided to raise her family, and now that her kids are older, making her way back into the world of what is her life going to be as her kids have grown up. That stuff is so rich dude.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot already has a two-season order from Peacock.