Skip To Content

    Will Smith Shared The Moment He Knew "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" Was In A "Cycle Of Deterioration" In His New Memoir

    "'I swear it won't mess up our working relationship.' She knew better than that — good call, K.P."

    Will Smith's self-titled memoir is hitting the shelves this week, and it's clear that the actor is sharing his most vulnerable self with the world — as seen in previously released excerpts and the press he's doing to promote the book.

    Will Smith wears a suit at a red carpet event
    Jason Merritt / Getty Images

    Will features behind-the-scenes stories about the 53-year-old's most iconic roles — such as his six-season turn in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — as well as recollections about his personal life.

    In an anecdote about his costars, Will admitted that he wanted to date Karyn Parsons, who portrays the shallow and trendy Hilary Banks.

    Hilary wearing a wedding dress as Will and Carlton look on during a scene
    ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    In another recently released excerpt from his memoir, Will also admitted he "fell in love" with Six Degrees of Separation costar Stockard Channing while going method for his role in the 1993 film.

    Not only did Karyn "beat out a slew of Hollywood big hitters to win her role," but she was "smart enough to tell me 'hell no' when I tried to explain we were not really cousins so it would be fine if we dated," he wrote. "'I swear it won't mess up our working relationship.' She knew better than that — good call, K.P."

    Nbc / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

    In a 2019 Red Carpet News TV, Karyn reflected on her friendship with Will, saying, "He's got charisma like crazy. He's just incredibly charismatic, so bright, very smart and quick-witted and funny. It's just him. People always say, 'What's it like?' It's exactly what you see. That guy, that's Will." She added that it wasn't a "surprise" that he became a larger-than-life movie star, describing him as "magnanimous, loving, and [having] great energy."

    View this video on YouTube

    RCN TV / Via youtube.com

    Reflecting further on Fresh Prince and how the beloved show boosted him to superstar status (afterward, he landed the leads in Bad Boys and Independence Day), he revealed the moment he knew the series "jumped the shark" — a term referencing the inevitable declining point of a TV show.

    A promotional photo of the cast
    ©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

    "The storylines were becoming increasingly hokey and it was difficult to maintain the 'Freshness,'" he said, reflecting on his decision to not continue the show after Season 6, which was the length the cast had committed to under contract. "Anyone who has ever been on a sitcom can tell you the episode in which their show jumped the shark. Ours was Season 5, Episode 15, 'Bullets Over Bel-Air,' the one in which I got shot and Carlton started carrying a gun."

    A promo photo of Will and Carlton
    Chris Haston /© NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    "I had successfully fulfilled a promise to myself that I would never get caught in a cycle of deterioration without having the next thing on tap," he continued. "The show could easily sustain another season; this was my family; I loved them. But a movie career was now a viable option; I was at a crossroads."

    It was actually Good Times alum John Amos — who was notoriously killed off at the height of the series — who offered Will some advice while guest-starring on Fresh Prince. Will recounted the conversation, writing, "'None of these execs, or producers, or businesspeople, give a shit about your family. Do not let them fuck off all of your hard work and passion. It is your responsibility to make sure these people get to leave this show with some dignity.'"

    ©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

    While thinking through the conversation, Will wrote that he felt "insulted and abused" by the Good Times storyline, which made him feel a "sense of disrespect" as a child. "I even sensed John's pain, that maybe he had failed his TV family. The next week, I gathered my cast together. I told everyone that Season 6 would be our final season and that they should take the year to make whatever plans or preparations they felt necessary. I promised them that we would go out with style and grace."

    Courtesy Everett Collection

    Of course, fans will recall the heartfelt and fun HBO Max reunion that took place last year, featuring none other than original Aunt Viv actor Janet Hubert. The special paid tribute to Uncle Phil actor James Avery — who died in 2013 — as well as publicly reconciled Janet and Will — who had feuded for almost three decades over the former's departure from the series.

    View this video on YouTube

    HBO Max / Via youtube.com

    Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to watch some reruns.