‘Bel-Air’ Star Jabari Banks Maps His Road to ‘Fresh Prince’s Gritty Update (VIDEO)
A dramatic update of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? We know, it’s the stuff that spoofs are made of. Heck, Saturday Night Live has already made fun of the idea with a digital short touting an Urkel reboot that looks more like Power than Family Matters. So, is Peacock’s Bel-Air for real, holmes?
As we say in here Philly, yo, this jawn is tight. Inspired by series writer Morgan Cooper’s 2019 short fan-film, the new twist on Will Smith‘s sitcom reimagines the often goofy ’90s hit as a darker drama in which our beloved characters are still the ones we remember, but elevated. And for star Jabari Banks, part of the thrill was stepping into Smith’s dunks. “The anxiety and the excitement live in the same part of my body,” he admits ahead of this weekend’s streaming premiere. “But I was super stoked to get into this role.”
As per the original’s theme song, Jabari’s high school charmer Will is from West Philadelphia, born and raised. He does in fact get in a fight while shootin’ b-ball outside of the school. And when his mom gets scared, she says (more or less), “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.”
Only this time, the stakes are higher. That fight is not just over a basketball beef. “When you think of what a fight looks like in 2022, it can get dangerous,” Banks notes. Will’s relocation is literally life-saving. It’s also life-changing for the Banks family who take him in. Without spoiling the series, because part of the fun is seeing what modern-day versions of Hilary (Coco Jones) and Carlton (Olly Sholotan) and even Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola) have become, we can say that Will’s arrival in the gated world of Bel-Air will shake things up and force some of his relatives to show their true colors.
“He’s so unapologetically himself, that it definitely rubs people the wrong way,” Banks previews before slipping in a hint as to whom might be coming for this prince’s crown.
Check it all out in the video interview above, and let the royal rumble begin!
Bel-Air, Season 1, Premieres, Sunday, February 13, Peacock