“Bel-Air” creator Morgan Cooper said since day one of developing the reimagined version of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” he and Will Smith found “organic ways” to include the original cast members.
From a viral reimagining to a meeting with Smith and onto Peacock screens, “Bel-Air” is now the streamer’s most-watched original series. While it is inspired by NBC’s original sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Cooper told TheWrap that he was very intentional about the show having its own identity and even refused to watch “Fresh Prince” during “Bel-Air’s” early development.
“When I was making the short film we released in 2019, which got this started, it was really important to me throughout the whole process of creating it to not watch ‘Fresh Prince’ at all,” Cooper said, adding that the series won’t perfectly mirror the storylines from its predecessor. “We’re not going to extrapolate ideas from it, or try to say, ‘Oh, this happened here.’ Granted, there are definitely going to be a fair share of Easter eggs. But, in terms of a particular storyline, no, we wanted to create a show that would ultimately stand on its own in the same way the sitcom does.”
However, what would appear in “Bel-Air” are some of the “Fresh Prince” cast members. In Season 1, fans got to see Daphne Maxwell Reid, who played Aunt Viv in “Fresh Prince” from Season 3 to the show’s final season after replacing Janet Hubert in the role. Vernee Watson-Johnson — Will’s mother, Aunt Vy, in “Fresh Prince” — also stars in the reboot.
Season 2 will give “Fresh Prince” lovers another dose of nostalgia, as Tatyana Ali, who originally played Ashley in “Fresh Prince,” joins the “Bel-Air” cast in her recurring role as Mrs. Hughes, “Bel-Air” Ashley’s school teacher.
Cooper says he and Smith wanted to find ways to include “Fresh Prince” alums.
“Since day one when I was developing the show with Will early on for Season 1, we were really excited about the idea of finding organic ways to include some O.G. cast,” Cooper said. “We were able to do that with Tatyana. She came in and absolutely knocked it out of the park with her appearance in Season 2 and a recurring role as Mrs. Hughes. She’s such a brilliant actor and has so many good ideas in terms of her performance and character.”
As far as more “Fresh Prince” other alums making an appearance, Cooper said fans will have to “wait and see.”
The second season of “Bel-Air” hit Peacock on Thursday.