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Who Plays Will On Bel-Air?

Most people probably know Will Smith first got his big break in Hollywood with "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The sitcom, which ran on NBC from 1990 to 1996, centered on a fictionalized version of the actor who is forced to relocate from his mother's working class home in West Philadelphia to the wealthy Bel-Air mansion of his aunt and uncle. During its years on the air, the sitcom was a slam-dunk hit for the network, earning equal caliber praise from critics and ratings from fans (via Independent). Now, nearly 26 years after the series finale, Peacock is inviting audiences to a different Bel-Air mansion, one with a markedly different tone than the last.

Based on Morgan Cooper's 2019 fan film of the same name (via Vimeo), Peacock's "Bel-Air" reboots the "Fresh Prince" franchise as a drama, recasting every iconic role along the way, including Smith's signature character. While it might initially seem strange to see someone other than Will Smith tackle the role of... Will Smith, this particular actor was actually handpicked by the real McCoy himself.

Jabari Banks is the new Will Smith

In Peacock's "Bel-Air," Will Smith will be portrayed by acting newcomer Jabari Banks. If you don't recognize his name, that's because "Bel-Air" is actually the young actor's very first on-screen role (via IMDb). Banks was first crowned the new "Fresh Prince" in August 2021 when Smith, an executive producer on the upcoming project, revealed the casting news on a recorded Zoom call (via YouTube).

Banks will be joined on the series by a bevy of other recast actors playing roles similar to those that made their 1990s counterparts famous. These will include: Adrian Holmes as Uncle Phil (originally played by James Avery); Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Viv (originally played by Janet Hubert and Daphne Maxwell Reid); Olly Sholotan as Carlton (originally played by Alfonso Ribeiro); Coco Jones as Hilary (originally played by Karyn Parsons); Akira Akbar as Ashley (originally played by Tatyana M. Ali); Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey Butler (originally played by Joseph Marcell); Jordan L. Jones as Jazz (originally played by DJ Jazzy Jeff); and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa (originally played by Nia Long) (via IMDb).

So far, Nicky Banks (Ross Bagley), the youngest of Phil and Viv's children, is the only series regular role from the original iteration to not be cast in the reboot. Of course, if the series is successful, that could be down the road at some point (Nicky is born in Season 3 in the original series).

"Bel-Air" is set to premiere its first three episodes on Peacock on February 13 (via IMDb). It has already been renewed for a second season (via Deadline).