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Fresh Prince Cast Burst Into Tears As They Pay Tribute To Uncle Phil

Fresh Prince Cast Burst Into Tears As They Pay Tribute To Uncle Phil

The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air paid an emotional tribute to the late James Avery who played Uncle Phil on the hit '90s show.

Avery passed away aged 68 in 2013 following complications from open heart surgery.

The cast of the show including Will Smith, Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks), Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks), Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey), Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks) and Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks), as well as DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz) are reuniting for the show's 30th anniversary.

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In a reconstructed set resembling the famous Banks family mansion, the cast gathered in the set's living room to relive some of their favourite memories on set with Avery.

James Avery and Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Credit: NBC)
James Avery and Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Credit: NBC)

"James Avery was this six foot four, Shakespearean beast and I wanted him to think I was good," Smith says about his former co-star.

Uncle Phil was like a father figure for Will's character in the show. Smith said one of his favourite memories was the episode when his character's on-screen father returns, only to abandon him again. A clip from the episode shows Will breaking down in tears in front of Uncle Phil, asking: "How come he don't want me".

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Will described to his co-stars what it felt like shooting the highly emotional scene.

"I fall into his arms at the end of the scene and he's holding me and the shot pans off and he whispered in my ear 'now that's acting'," he said.

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He describes how desperate he was to impress Avery and ended up messing up his lines.

The show has become a symbol of 90s nostalgia since it ended in 1996 (Credit: NBC)
The show has become a symbol of 90s nostalgia since it ended in 1996 (Credit: NBC)
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While will berated himself for not getting his lines right, Avery told him to 'get yourself together' and the next take was the poignant one that featured in the episode.

Meanwhile, Ashley star Tatyana Ali said of Avery: "He was my teacher. I learned what it means to be an artist from him."

Daphne Maxwell Reid, who portrayed the second Aunt Viv, added: "We knew that he knew the answers or could guide folks to the answers."

The cast including Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro have reunited on a reconstructed set (Credit: HBO Max)
The cast including Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro have reunited on a reconstructed set (Credit: HBO Max)
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Inspired by Will Smith's own life, the then fresh faced actor and rapper starred as a fictionalised version of himself - a street-smart teenager born and raised in West Philadelphia (just like the opening song tells us).

Will's character is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt in their Bel Air mansion where he hilariously encounters several culture clashes with his cousins and new school friends.

The show proved to be a huge hit when it was on the air between 1990 and 1996. Since then it has become a fixture of 90s culture and nostalgia, gaining many young fans in the years since it ended.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion is on 19 November, on HBO Max.

Featured Image Credit: HBO Max

Topics: 90s, TV and Film, TV News, 90s TV

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Gregory Robinson

Gregory is a journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a master's degree in journalism, he has worked for both print and online publications and is particularly interested in TV, (pop) music and lifestyle. He loves Madonna, teen dramas from the 90s and prefers tea over coffee. Get in touch gregory.robinson@tyla.com