This pilot scene “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was improvised by Will Smith

Will Smith is one of the world’s biggest stars, a rapper, producer and actor who has been at the forefront of popular culture for decades. Fans around the world adore Smith and his outgoing and relaxed personality, and today he’s still one of Hollywood’s most popular actors. Smith got his start in music before eventually moving on to an acting career, and most of his fans know he first received critical acclaim on the classic ’90s sitcom, The prince of Bel-Air.

Will Smith first ventured out to star in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

In the late 1980s, Smith had his first success releasing rap songs under the name Fresh Prince. However, it was when Smith first started starring on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV show that his fortunes really changed. The series debuted on television in 1990 and told the story of a smart young teenager named Will Smith who is sent with his wealthy aunt and uncle to Bel-Air, California.

Right away, Will’s personality and experiences clash with those of his wealthy parents, and there is a lot of growing pains before the young man is able to fully adjust to his new situation. Will’s character was loosely based on Smith himself, and much of the show was taken from Smith’s own teenage years.

What was the pilot episode of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ about?

From left to right: James Avery and Will Smith | Alice S. Hall / NBCU Photo Bank

While The prince of Bel-Air became a success, it certainly did not become an overnight success. The show featured a pilot episode that aired in 1990, an episode designed to gauge audience interest in the series and introduce viewers to the characters and storyline. The pilot was all about young Will Smith, who leaves his hometown of West Philadelphia to live with Uncle Phil, Aunt Viv, and her three cousins ​​in their Bel-Air mansion.

Throughout the episode, those close to Will constantly find fault with his manners, the way he dresses, his conduct, and his use of slang words. At one point, at the very end of the episode, Uncle Phil berates Will for putting on a “show” of himself, rejecting his nephew’s attempts to explain a little more about himself. However, just after Uncle Phil berates Will by telling him, “Before you criticize someone, you find out what it is,” the older man leaves the room. Will sits down at the piano and starts playing a classic Beethoven tune, causing Uncle Phil to look back around the room, smiling as he realizes the depth of his nephew’s soul and talent.

What special moment in the pilot episode did Will Smith improvise?

According to Initiated, Smith actually improvised this special moment with the piano in the pilot episode of The prince of Bel-Air. In his memoir, Smith explained how the producers originally wanted him to sit on the bench and stare into space with a thoughtful look on his face. “The producers originally planned for me to sit with my back to the piano so they could push the camera over my face as I reflected on the depth of Uncle Phil’s last words,” Smith explained. “But when I sat down, I face the piano and started playing mum-mum’s favorite, Beethoven’s “Für Elise”. “

The improvised moment “stunned” the producers, and they decided to keep the scene in the pilot episode. Ultimately, The prince of Bel-Air would be on TV for six years, becoming one of the biggest TV shows around that time and teaching a whole new generation not to judge a book by its cover.

RELATED: Will Smith Regrets His Treatment of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Co-Star Janet Hubert: “I Wasn’t Sensitive”


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