Will Smith wipes tears while honoring James Avery during ‘Fresh Prince’ reunion

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This is the story all about how the original cast of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunited this week for the two-part finale of Will Smith’s quarantine Snapchat series, “Will From Home.”

During Thursday’s half of the highly anticipated special, Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, Daphne Maxwell Reid, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons and Joseph Marcell honored James Avery, a.k.a. Uncle Phil, who died in 2013 of complications from open heart surgery.

“That just makes me teary,” Smith said, wiping his eyes after watching footage of his onscreen father figure on the show. “The first couple times that I’m seeing clips of James, you know?”

Smith wasn’t the only one who got emotional while looking back at highlights of Avery’s work, which included some particularly poignant quotes, such as “Just remember: Happiness comes from inside.”

“I loved that man,” said Reid, who played opposite Avery as Aunt Viv.

“As James would say, ‘Solid,’” added Marcell, a.k.a. Geoffrey.

“Our show wouldn’t have been HALF what it was without the talent and light that was James Avery,” Smith wrote, sharing the tribute reel on Instagram Thursday. “We all love and miss you, James.”

The cast also reflected on their lasting legacies as their beloved characters and some of their more memorable scenes together, as well as pivotal behind-the-scenes moments — including the time Ribeiro, a.k.a. Carlton, persuaded Smith to keep his real name in the script.

“I said, ‘Look, if you’re ever gonna do this show, you’ve gotta be Will Smith,’” Ribeiro recalled.

“It was such a deep insight that you had,” Smith replied. “You said, ‘Because people are going to call you that for the rest of your life.’”

The “Fresh Prince” squad are among several entertainers staging virtual comebacks in an effort to lift spirits amid the coronavirus crisis. Other recent reunions include the casts of “The Goonies,” “High School Musical,” “Hamilton,” “Melrose Place” and many more.

And Smith is far from the only Hollywood star producing fresh content from home during the pandemic. Among the other quarantine-inspired series that have popped up in recent weeks are Josh Gad’s “Reunited Apart,” Miley Cyrus’ “Bright Minded” and John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.”

“You guys are my second family, and I’ve been shaped by my interactions and relationships,” Smith said, thanking his final guests before signing off. “When I look back, the best times in my life will have been on that set.”


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