Will Smith has been a mainstay of the entertainment business since the ‘90s, but he needed the lead in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” more than fans knew. In the late ‘80s, Smith found fame with his breakout single, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff, but he spent his money too fast, and his sophomore album was not a hit.
Smith was struggling to pay his taxes on time, so his then-girlfriend encouraged him to hang around the Paramount lot in the hopes of meeting someone famous. Smith eventually found himself talking to Quincy Jones, and before he knew it, he was wowing NBC’s Brandon Tartikoff with his “Fresh Prince” audition.
Landing the role was perfect for Smith, as he was playing a version of himself, but he did dislike that people assumed the character was all him, saying, “My life experiences are so far beyond the character's life experiences.” The show is now back in the gritty reboot “Bel-Air,” which Smith has given his approval to, confirming that it’s faithful to the “flavor” of the original show.