Carlton Banks still has the moves. Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for playing Will Smith’s preppy cousin on the ’90s hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, finally gave Dancing With the Stars viewers what they’ve wanted since day one — The Carlton Dance. The 43-year-old earned a perfect score of 40 when he broke out his swinging arms and quick feet with partner Witney Carson during the live show on Monday, Oct. 6, bringing back memories of the fan-favorite series.
Us Weekly caught up with Ribeiro after his performance to discuss everything Fresh Prince. Get the details on how he came up with The Carlton Dance all on his own (!), the souvenir he kept from set, and much more in the first of our Now and Then series:
How was The Carlton Dance created?
“Well, it just said, ‘Carlton dances’ in the script and I had to come up with what that dance was, kind of the beginning phases of any character. You’re creating the different things the character would do. Okay, it says ‘he dances’ but what does he do? What is that dance? It’s kind of generic but what do you do, what do you create?”
Do you have a favorite memory from the series?
“To be honest with you, there isn’t one. There wasn’t this, ‘Oh my god, this is it’ — there were so many! All of my favorite moments were not on camera. All of my favorite moments were with the people, with the family that we had outside of the TV show family. At the end of the day, it was work and we were playing characters and having fun doing it and it was amazing.”
Who do you stay closest to from the cast?
“My wife [Angela Unkrich] and Tati [Tatyana Ali] are friends, and Karyn [Parsons] and Tati and my wife are friends. Will and I talk and we all get together. We all have such love for each other. Will actually rapped a birthday wish to [my wife] while we were all in Trinidad at Carnival for her birthday! He flew into Trinidad and hung out with us and we had a party and he got up and did a birthday rap for her. That’s the kind of stuff we do for each other and it’s just love — and that love is forever.”
Did you get to keep any souvenirs from set?
“I have one jacket. Like a letterman jacket with a big C on it for Carlton. That’s the one thing I kept.”
Would you ever do a televised reunion?
“I don’t think it would happen simply because we’ve lost James [Avery]. [The actor died at 68 in December 2013.] When James passed, he was the heart and the center of the show. I believe, for us, it was something we enjoyed in the past and we’ll let it stay there.”
Would you consider a Fresh Prince reboot?
“I don’t know. They’d really, really have to get me with an amazing script, I think.”
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What’s the craziest fan experience you’ve had?
“I sometimes get asked to do The Carlton when I’m in bathrooms. It’s never okay when you’re at a urinal and someone taps you on the shoulder and says, ‘Dude, you’ve gotta do the Carlton for me!’ Really? Really?!”
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