The Real Reason Lisa Bonet Left The Cosby Show

She was a breakout star on one of America's most popular sitcoms in the 1980s and early '90s. "The Cosby Show" turned NBC's Thursday night lineup into must-see TV and Lisa Bonet into a hot commodity. In fact, Bonet was so popular that an entire spin-off series was based around her character's adventures in college as Denise Huxtable entered a new life.

"A Different World" was originally a Bonet vehicle, despite her only lasting one season with the series (via Biography). She eventually did return to "The Cosby Show" but was phased out of the series, leaving many fans to wonder why.

The "High Fidelity" star was just 17 years old when she landed the role of Denise, the most free-spirited of the Huxtable children on the landmark sitcom. Bonet was also a free spirit in real life, and her personality led to butting heads with Bill Cosby, the sitcom's star, creator, and executive producer. Stories of tension on the set between these two performers playing father and daughter eventually emerged, with Bonet criticizing the show and allegedly often arriving late for work. This didn't sit well with Cosby, so he convinced Bonet to join the spin-off.

Lisa makes a big life move that Bill didn't like

Lisa Bonet made several life changes during the first season of "A Different World" in 1987. First, she starred in the racy film "Angel Heart" with Mickey Rourke and chose to pose topless for Interview Magazine, according to Biography. Then, she married musician Lenny Kravitz and soon announced her pregnancy, which ended her run on "A Different World."

According to TVWeb, producer Debbie Allen suggested writing Bonet's pregnancy into the show, thinking that having a pregnant college student could be innovative. Cosby reportedly responded with, "Lisa Bonet is pregnant, but Denise Huxtable is not." Cosby also feared Bonet's lifestyle would detract from the wholesomeness he was trying to portray on his sitcom.

So, Denise Huxtable got married to a former military man and showed up on her family's doorstep with him and her brand new stepdaughter, Olivia, played by a pint-sized Raven Symone. Bonet was back on "The Cosby Show" where she started, but it didn't last long, and the actress was fired permanently in 1991. Cheat Sheet reports that Cosby said the actress was let go because she had outgrown the role and the material she was given. However, Kravitz saw things differently and wrote in his memoir titled "Let Love Rule" that his former wife's "relationship with Bill was tense and eventually untenable." 

Lisa speaks out about Bill years later after leaving the show

Although he hadn't starred on a television series since 2000 – "Cosby" was canceled after four years (via IMDb) – Bill Cosby again made headlines in 2015 when he was shockingly accused of sexually assaulting a slew of women over a number of years by giving them drugs and then assaulting them (via The Cut).

In 2018, Cosby was convicted for sexually assaulting one of those women and sentenced to three to 10 years in a Pennsylvania state prison. However, on June 30, 2021, Cosby's conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court based on a technicality and he was released the same day, according to CNN.

Back in 2018, Lisa Bonet discussed the accusations with Net-a-Porter. She was asked if the revelations of Cosby sexually assaulting women changed her memories of her time working with him. She replied, "No, it's exactly as I remember it. There was no knowledge on my part about his specific actions, but... There was just energy. And that type of sinister, shadow energy cannot be concealed."

She later added, "And if I had anything more to reveal then it would have happened a long time ago. That's my nature. The truth will set you free."

Here's what Lisa's life had been like in recent years

As of this writing, Lisa Bonet is a 53-year-old woman and mother of three. Her first marriage to Lenny Kravitz ended after just six years and produced her daughter Zoë, who went on to be an actress like her mom, per IMDb. She later wed "Game of Thrones" star Jason Momoa and the couple have two children together, according to Biography

While she has stayed out of the Hollywood limelight for the most part, she has still continued acting and has appeared in a number of television series since her "Cosby Show" and "A Different World" life ended. They include "Life on Mars," "Drunk History," "The Red Road," and "Ray Donovan." In 1998, she starred in two big feature films, "Enemy of the State" and "High Fidelity" (via IMDb). Notably, Zoë starred in the 2020 TV reboot of the latter.

When Net-a-Porter asked her why she never became a bigger star during her adult years, she replied with a laugh. "I don't know!" she admitted. "I always had one foot in and one foot out of the business, so that's part of it. But also, it's slim pickings out there! There aren't endless opportunities for women of color."