Though it’s been 25 years since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air premiered, Will Smith is still capturing our hearts as the homeboy from West Philadelphia who arrived in Bel-Air, and turned his Aunt and Uncle’s mansion upside down. For six years, viewers were captivated by Will’s wit, charm and his ability to get himself and his naive cousin Carlton into all varieties of mischief. Though there have been recent rumors swirling around that Smith is looking to do a reboot of the classic series, nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet. Until we know more about a possible 21st century Fresh Prince here are 22 facts you probably didn’t know about the show.
1. The show was nearly canceled after the fourth season. During the season finale, Will returns to Philly with the Banks to visit his mom and he decides to stay. Fresh Prince fans were so outraged by the show’s cancellation that NBC brought it back for two additional seasons.
2. Will Smith had no acting experience before Fresh Prince. He has said that looking back he’s embarrassed by his acting in some of the earlier episodes.
3. The Banks’ butler Geoffrey’s full name was Geoffrey Barbara Butler.
4. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith met when she auditioned for a role as his girlfriend on the show. She didn’t get the part because producers felt she looked too short next to the 6 foot 2 inch actor.
5. Fresh Prince had a slew of high-profile guest stars including Oprah, Jay Leno, Tyra Banks, Boyz II Men and Queen Latifah
6. DJ Jazzy Jeff who plays Will’s BFF Jazz on the show is always wearing the same shirt when Uncle Phil throws him out of the house.
7. Will Smith would memorize and mouth the other actors’ lines so that he could remember his own. If you look closely you can see him doing this in various episodes.
8. The full version of the theme song actually has a run time of three minutes.
9. Will Smith wrote and produced some episodes of the series.
10. In 1995, Smith gifted his fellow cast mates with new dressing rooms.
11. In 1993, a breakfast cereal offered a breakfast with the cast as its prize.
12. Alfonso Ribero who plays Carlton Banks in the series credits Eddie Murphy’s “white man dance” in Delirious and Courteney Cox in Bruce Spingsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” video for his iconic Carlton Dance.
13. The cast kept a group diary on set which Karyn Parsons who played Hilary Banks still has today.
14. Will’s youngest cousin Nicky is named after Boyz II Men band members who sang at his christening. His full name is Nicholas Andrew Michael Shawn Nathan Wanya Banks.
15. Smith signed on to the Fresh Prince because he owed the IRS $2.8 million. For the first three years of the series 70% of his check when to them.
16. Smith can actually solve a Rubik’s cube. He did it first on Fresh Prince and then later in The Pursuit of Happyness.
17. Supermodel Tyra Banks made her acting debut on Fresh Prince as Jackie, Will’s homegirl from Philly.
18. Smith’s gut wrenching monologue in “Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse” was actually unscripted. The actor drew from his personal experience of being abandoned by his father.
19. Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro were allowed to pick their characters names for the show. Smith chose wisely. However, in a twist Will Smith’s first name is actually William where his character’s first name is Willard.
20. Alfonso Ribeiro directed an episode in season five.
21. Fresh Prince had its own Air Jordan sneakers which can be purchased for approximately $600 today.
22. Smith never auditioned for his role, producer Quincy Jones wanted him for the sitcom’s lead.