“Willy, the Prince of Bel-Air” Turns 30: 10 Things You (Maybe) Don’t Know About the Series With Will Smith



“Sitting on your feet here with you

I’ll tell you about Bel Air’s superficial Willy. “

When the song of Willy, the prince of Bel-Air starts, there are only two types of people: those who immediately begin to sing it and those who lie.

It seems incredible, especially because Will Smith has not aged a day, but the sitcom that made Bel-Air’s Fresh Prince a world star turns 30 this year: aired in the USA from 10 September 1990 to 20 March 1996 (in Italy   1993 would have arrived , on Italia1), the series is pure 90s.

Graffiti, music, passion for basketball and Michael Jordan: Willy, the prince of Bel-Air embodies the spirit of the 90s with stars and stripes and has given us wonderful things like the “Carlton dance”, the dance of the cousin of the protagonist, played by Alfonso Riberio .

Will Smith himself is very fond of the role: last year, on Aladdin’s red carpet, he told us that there was a little Willy in his Genius and, during the quarantine, to celebrate 30 years of the sitcom, organized a reunion with the whole cast via Zoom.

Let’s find out 10 curiosities about Willy, the prince of Bel-Air: for a review, find the episodes on Netflix and, from July 27, in a DVD box.

# 1. William and Willard Smith

Many believe that the actor Will Smith and the character Willy Smith have the same name: in reality the Hollywood star is called William, while Willy stands for Willard .

#2. Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro chose the names of their characters

It is no coincidence, however, that the name of the actor and that of the character are so similar: the authors allowed Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro to choose how to call the cousins. Ribeiro   pointed out that if the series had become a hit, both of them would have been called by the public by the name of the characters.

Smith’s fox therefore practically used his own, while we still call Ribeiro Carlton today .

# 3. Will Smith and the Rubik’s cube

In the episode in which Willy does the interview to enter Princeton University, he amazes the examiner by solving the Rubik’s cube that is on his desk in seconds. This is indeed Will Smith’s ability: he demonstrated it in some talk shows and also in Gabriele Muccino’s film “The search for happiness”.

# 4. Will Smith’s improvised monologue

The points of contact between Will Smith and Willy are not limited to Rubik’s name and cube: in episode 24 of the fourth season, entitled ” Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse ” (in the Italian version) Willy’s biological father, who abandoned him as a child, returns to show up, and then disappears again.

According to the script, Willy should have ignored the thing, but Will Smith, really abandoned by his father when he was very young, was moved so much, to launch into a monologue full of anger, so much to push the colleague James Avery , uncle interpreter Phil, to hug him.

The improvised scene was not turned around, but kept exactly like this: if you pay attention, you can also hear the audience on the set that is moved and cries.

# 5. The diary of Willy, the prince of Bel-Air

Recently Karyn Parsons , interpreter of Hilary Banks, revealed that on the set there was, available to everyone, a diary on which you could write anything. It was inside a drawer in the kitchen set.

Actors and crew members wrote poems, notes, gossip, made drawings. The diary is now in the possession of the actress.

# 6. The Banks house is in Brentwood

The home of the Banks family , Willy’s wealthy relatives, who moved from Philadelphia to California to their mother’s will, is actually located not in Bel-Air, but in Brentwood , another neighborhood in Los Angeles .

The exact address is: 251 N. Bristol Avenue.

# 7. Fans brought Willy the Prince of Bel-Air back to life

NBC canceled Willy, the Prince of Bel-Air at the end of the fourth season, with Willy returning to Philadelphia. The fan reaction was so strong, that the network convinced itself to renew the series for two more seasons.

Season 5 opens with an executive television producer who brings Willy back to California, saying: ” His name is Willy, the prince of Bel-Air, not Willy, the prince of Philadelphia .”

# 8. Geoffrey’s full name

The full name of Geoffrey, the butler of the Banks family, played by Joseph Marcell , is practically never said in the series: it is Geoffrey Barbara Butler .

# 9. Queen Latifah has been a guest star twice

In six seasons of Willy, the prince of Bel-Air many have been the famous guest stars: Queen Latifah , however, has the record of having appeared in the series twice, in different roles. It was Hilary’s boss and a girl Willy goes out to dinner with.

# 10. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith met at the auditions

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith met at the auditions of Willy, the prince of Bel-Air: he became the protagonist, she failed to get a part, but the audition was a conviction. The two actors remained in contact and in 1997 they married.

All seasons of Willy, the Prince of Bel-Air on DVD

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the US airing of the first episode of Willy, the Prince of Bel-Air, which took place on September 10, 1990 on NBC , Warner Bros. Italia releases, on July 27, a box containing all 6 seasons of the series, for a total of 148 episodes.

In addition to the episodes, the box set , which contains 23 DVD discs , features several special contents, such as behind the scenes and the funniest mistakes.

(photo: NBC, Warner Bros.)




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