At 51 years old, Will Smith's career still hasn’t come to a stop. He’s been in some of the most iconic films, such as Independence Day, Bad Boys and Men in Black. He’s one of those actors that have been around for so long, some fans might not even know how his career started in the first place.
Even with over 30 years of experience in acting, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will always be one of his most notable roles. The series was so well-loved by fans, Smith recently announced that he's currently working on a reboot of the show.
There's no doubt that what made the show so popular was the amazingly talented and comedic Will Smith, which is why we're going back in time to the 90s to learn some unknown facts during his time on the show that helped turn him into the legend he is today.
20 Fresh Prince Was His First Major Role
If you ever wondered what acting gigs Smith landed before Fresh Prince, the answer is just one, and it was a minor role. His first role was as a “man in the white suit” in The Boys. Fresh Prince was life-changing for his acting career because it’s where he got his start and was able to make a name for himself.
19 He Memorized Everyone's Lines
"It was my very first role, and I was very, very focused on being successful, so I learned the whole script and everyone else's lines. If you watch the first four or five episodes, you can see I'm mouthing other people's lines. It's terrible and I can't bear to watch it,” said Smith.
18 He Regrets Turning Down The Matrix (For Wild Wild West)
Before Keanu Reeves got his big break in The Matrix, his role was offered to Will Smith. Smith revealed in a video that his main reason for turning down the role as Neo is because the Wachowskis’ pitch failed to impress him. Instead, he took on the film Wild Wild West which he claims to regret.
17 He Moved On Fast After A Divorce
Sheree Zampino and Will Smith were married for 3 years and a child together before divorcing in 1995, the same year that Smith began dating Jada Pinkett-Smith. Luckily, there were no hard feelings after the divorce, and the two of them peacefully co-parent their son without any issues, as reported by BET.
16 He Was A Millionaire By The Age Of 20
Even before the series, Will used to create music under the same name and became insanely popular. At a young age, he found himself in a position of wealth, fame and fortune. There are not many people in the world that can work their way into millionaire status during their teens, but Will was talented enough to do it.
15 Acting Isn't His Only Talent
Everyone knows that Will Smith is an amazing actor that knows how to balance comedy and drama, but he’s also a talented rap artist. Not only is he an amazing rapper, but he’s even won a grammy for his music.
14 Fresh Prince Got Him Out Of Debt
Before Smith landed his role on Fresh Prince, he owed a lot of money to IRS, so they basically took everything away from him. Will described his struggles in a video, stating, “being famous and broke is a sh*tty combination because you’re still famous enough for people to recognize you, but they recognize you while you’re sitting next to them on the bus.”
13 He Used To Hang Out With Mariah Carey
Out of all the people we could imagine Smith being friends with, Mariah Carey is certainly one of the last people that would come to mind. When Carey shared this photo of the two on social media, fans became obsessed with the unique and insanely 90s picture.
12 Who's Willard Smith?
If you ever thought that Will was short for William, you couldn’t be more wrong. Turns out, Smith’s real name is Willard Carroll Smith Jr. His full name sure is a mouth full, so it’s hard to blame him for going by Will Smith instead. To make things even weirder, his character on Fresh Prince is named William Smith.
11 Janet Hubert Thought Will Smith Was A "Snotty-Nosed Punk"
"I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be 'The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air' show because I know she is going to dog me in the press," Smith claimed about the actress who formerly played Aunt Vivian. "She's mad now but she's been mad all along. She said once, 'I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.' No matter what, to her I'm just the Antichrist."
10 Love Isn't Always At First Sight
When Jada Pinkett-Smith first met Will, she was auditioning for a role on Fresh Prince and he was still married, according to Oprah Mag. Pinkett-Smith didn’t get the part, but the two of them became friends. Their relationship didn’t start until a whole year later, after Will’s divorce with Sheree Zampino.
9 His Fanbase Saved The Show From Being Cancelled
This may come as a shock, but Fresh Prince was almost canceled in season 4 by NBC, according to IMDb. Fans of the show fought hard for another season and we should all be so grateful that their efforts pulled through. The show lasted for another two seasons before coming to an end.
8 His Kids Make Fun Of Him For The Crop Tops
Unlike today, crop tops were more commonly worn by straight men in the 90s. Personally, I think he rocked the look, but his kids think otherwise. “This is the picture my kids showed me the last time I tried to comment on their fashion. Haha! Last time I do that,” Smith shared on social media.
7 He Briefly Dated Tyra Banks
We all know that Tyra Banks played Will’s love interest on the show, but they were also rumored to be dating from 1993 to 1994, according to Complex. Although the relationship was short-lived, the two are on good terms. Banks even wished Smith a happy birthday on social media this year.
6 He Really Solved That Rubik's Cube On Fresh Prince
When will attended his Princeton interview on Fresh Prince, he solved a Rubik’s cube on the spot to impress the dean. According to the Huffington Post, there were no cuts in that scene - he really did solve it while filming. You can also see him do this special talent of his in the film Pursuit of Happyness.
5 The Fresh Prince Cast Wrote Silly Notes To Each Other
Karyn Parsons revealed the cast had a notebook that they kept hidden in the kitchen in which the cast wrote plenty of notes to each other. “Every now and then a camera person or the actors, somebody would just write silly poetry or ‘James is getting on my nerves.’ We would make little notes,” Parsons commented.
4 Jazzy Jeff And Will's Friendship Wasn't Just For Show
Jazzy Jeff played Will’s best friend on the show, but it turns out the two were friends long before the series. Jazzy Jeff was Will’s music partner and the duo called themselves DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. They made plenty of hits together, and their real-life friendship simply made it feel way more authentic on the show.
3 Not Only Is He Funny, But He Can Also Write A Script
The story for the episode titled Ain’t No Business Like Show Business from season 3 was created by Smith. Turns out, he often pitched ideas to the writers that they used. His hidden talent of creating storylines still hasn't faded, considering he also came up with the story idea for his film After Earth.
2 He's Not The Most Creative When It Comes To Names
Will’s first son was born in 1992, and while he may go by Trey Smith now, his real name is actually Willard Smith. If that doesn’t prove his lack of creativity, it was revealed that Will was also responsible for naming his Fresh Prince character ‘Will Smith.’ Considering he also named his daughter Willow Smith, it seems he’s very fond of his own name.
1 His First Major Movie Role Was In Six Degrees Of Separation
After landing a role on Fresh Prince, Will also snagged a leading role in the 1993 film adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation. This film was the first movie he ever worked on, and this really helped him make the giant leap from being a TV actor to a film actor.