Original ‘Aunt Viv’ Janet Hubert sings Will Smith’s praises for ‘King Richard’ performance

"King Richard stole my heart," Hubert says in a tweet, revealing it was the first film she saw starring the Fresh Prince

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Former Will Smith critic Janet Hubert appears to be a huge fan of the A-list actor’s critically acclaimed new film King Richard.

Appearing in a video clip shared on her social media platforms on Saturday, Hubert revealed to her followers that it was the first film starring Smith she had seen in the wake of their decades-long fallout over her departure from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In her review of King Richard, Hubert said the biopic about Venus and Serena Williams and the role their father Richard Williams played in their pro-tennis success was an “A+” feel-good movie.

King Richard stole my heart, in the same manner Venus and Serena did on the court!” Hubert tweeted early Saturday night. “Bravo Will and company. Not since Hidden Figures had I enjoyed a movie so much. I will have to check out all your other movies.”

The 65-year-old Hubert became famous playing Smith’s original Aunt Vivian Banks, aka “Aunt Viv,” during the first three seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the early 1990s before she was suddenly and shockingly replaced by actress Daphne Reid ahead of the show’s fourth season.

For decades, Hubert publicly blamed Smith for her career downfall on The Fresh Prince, saying Smith had made her a pariah in Hollywood by suggesting she was difficult to work with. But she and Smith reconciled their differences a year ago while filming the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special, which aired in November of 2020 on HBO Max.

During the reunion, Hubert revealed she had been dealing with an abusive marriage with ex-husband Elijah Whitten while she was filming The Fresh Prince. She divorced Whitten in 1994 some time after her run on the show had ended.

Will Smith Janet Hubert thegrio.com
(Credit: Instagram)

“I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you,” Smith told Hubert during the reunion special. “I have children. I’ve been divorced and got a second marriage. … I can see now the level of pain and the level of struggle that it was for you just to show up every day.”

“But you took all that away from me … with your words. You know, words can kill,” Hubert responded.”I lost everything — reputation, everything. … Calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood is the kiss of death.”

“I didn’t know that,” Smith replied. “When I look back now, it’s obvious that you were having a hard time. … I felt like you hated me.”

“I’m sorry I have blasted you to pieces,” a tearful Hubert told Smith.

Hubert received a standing ovation from her former Fresh Prince cast members during the reunion special. All the bad blood appeared to be gone on Saturday when she praised Smith’s new movie after admitting she hadn’t watched any of his prior films due to her history with Smith.

“It made me laugh, it made me cry, I was on the edge of my seat,” Hubert said of King Richard during the video she tweeted. “I was one of those little Black girls who loved playing tennis and then as a young woman watching these women go through what they went through to get to where they are. And if this story is truly true, what a magnificent family and what grace under fire you held.”

“And Will, you did a great job,” Hubert continued. “You were stellar as an actor. You made me hurt with you. What an amazing family. What a remarkable cast. And we need this. All I can say is, ‘bravo. Bravo.'”

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