A controversial career. Will Smith has found himself at the center of several scandals over the course of his decades-long career, some of which even date back to his time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
When Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv on the first three seasons, left the ’90s sitcom due to “creative differences” in 1993, the “Summertime” rapper slammed his former costar during a radio interview. “I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show,” Smith said at the time, per E! News. “She’s mad now but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her I’m just the Antichrist.”
Though he later apologized for his comments, the Philadelphia native’s remarks marked the start of a years-long feud with Hubert. “There will never be a [Fresh Prince] reunion … as I will never do anything with an a–hole like Will Smith,” the Love Life actress told TMZ in December 2011.
Two years later, Hubert claimed that Smith was spreading “lies” about her behavior on set. “I think what happened, because the audience was so on my side at that time, that Will probably felt like he needed to go out, and he needed to tell a lot of lies. … I have proof that a lot of that didn’t happen,” she told The Grio in March 2013.
The pair continued their back-and-forth for years before eventually burying the hatchet during the 2020 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special, where Smith acknowledged that he “made the set difficult” for Hubert during the third season.
“Words can kill. I lost everything. Reputation. Everything, everything. I understand you were able to move forward,” she told the Ali star during the HBO Max special. “Calling a Black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business. I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry I have blasted you to pieces.”
While he was able to settle one of his Hollywood feuds, Smith started a brand new one at the 2022 Oscars by slapping Chris Rock during the ceremony. After the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s shaved head, the Oscar winner stormed the stage to defend his wife (who has alopecia) and hit Rock in the face. After he returned to his seat, Smith shouted at Rock, telling him to “Keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth.”
The “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” rapper apologized the following day for his behavior in a statement shared via Instagram. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Smith wrote in March 2022. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
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