Will Smiths Credits James Avery for Helping Him Deliver the Saddest ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Scene

by Jeremy Spirogis
James Avery and Will Smith

There are lots of of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air moments which might be categorised as iconic, however just one has gone down in historical past as probably the most emotional scene to ever grace our televisions.

During season 4’s 24th episode, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse,” Will Smith demonstrated his true performing skills when his character’s father walks out on him once more after coming again into his life. Though many have applauded Smith for his performing chops within the episode, the actor claims that he wouldn’t have made the scene plausible had it not been for James Avery, also called Uncle Phil.

James Avery and Will Smith
James Avery and Will Smith | Photo by: Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank

The emotional scene left everybody in tears

Believe or not, it’s been 26 years since The Fresh Prince aired that emotional deadbeat dad episode, and it nonetheless leaves followers in tears.

The episode facilities round Will’s father, Lou (performed by Ben Vereen), who returns 14 years after abandoning Will to spend time with him.

Though Uncle Phil can see although Lou’s lies, Will doesn’t and welcomes his father again with open arms, solely to be left disenchanted when he walks out on him once more. After Lou leaves, Will tries to make it appear to be he isn’t bothered by his dad abandoning him a second time, however may solely maintain again his tears for thus lengthy earlier than breaking down in entrance of Uncle Phil.

The second is so highly effective, we nonetheless get goosebumps watching it.

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For years, many have been satisfied that Smith’s monologue wasn’t scripted and that he drew from his experiences along with his real-life father, who was by no means round.

But really, the actor’s father performed a major function in his life and had formed into the person he’s today.

“Dad was tough but not tyrannical,” the Men in Black star beforehand advised Essence journal. “He kept me in line. He’d get this look that said, ‘One more step, Will, and it’ll get ugly.’ He was an independent businessman—he set up refrigeration in supermarkets—and he always provided for us. He’s a steady and positive figure in my life.”

Smith says James Avery pushed him in that scene

Though Smith hadn’t personally skilled having his father stroll out on him, he did channel the sensation of wanting approval from somebody he held in such excessive regard within the scene.

In 2018, the actor sat down with TIDAL’s Rap Radar Podcast and revealed that Avery was the one who had helped him get in contact along with his feelings and ship the scene everyone knows of today.

“So we’re doing that scene and I’m having a hard time,” Smith explains. “‘Cause we were rehearsing and everything so…and then it comes to the moment and we’re in the scene together, right. So I’m doing it, I’m messing up the lines ’cause I want it so bad and I’m in front of the audience and I’m doing it and I’m furious and he holds on to me and he says, ‘Hey, relax. Relax. It’s already in there. You know what it is…Look at me. Use me. Don’t act around me. Act with me.’”

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He continued, “So he’s talking me through it and everything. I get it together. So I do the scene and then he hugs me at the end. While he’s hugging me he whispers in my ear. He says, ‘That’s f*cking acting right there.’”

Smith went on to say that whereas working with Avery, he was all the time searching for the actor’s approval and channeled that into the scene. “It makes me teary right now because it was like I was using…I was using him. I wanted him to want me. I wanted him to approve of me. So actually in that scene with him I was transferring that energy onto James Avery.”

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