Will Smith recalls how he “lost everything” before ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’

The actor ended up in jail in the early stages of his career

Will Smith had his house and car seized and ended up in jail before he appeared in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey on Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation: Will Smith, the actor said he was in a “downward spiral” after getting into a fight at a radio station.

In a clip from the show, referring to his new memoir Will (via Entertainment Tonight), Winfrey said: “So right before Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, I think people would be surprised to know, this is the first time, I realised you basically lost everything.


“The government seized your cars, it took your home, you ended up in jail. You describe it in two words actually, ‘rock bottom.’ What was at the root of that downfall, Will? And the life lesson you took from it?”

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ started in 1990 CREDIT: Alamy

Smith, who won a Grammy in 1989 prior to the incident for Best Rap Performance with DJ Jazzy Jeff, replied: “When it rains, it pours. So getting into the fight at the radio station, Charlie punching the dude that landed me in jail, so the money is gone, the car is gone.

“I am laying on the floor in a jail cell and I am like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I won a Grammy eight months ago. Like, what is happening?’

“And it’s just the spiral when it starts going the other way. It’s like, sometimes you just have to get out the way and wait until the downward spiral stops.”

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which ran from September 1990 to May 1996 and spanned six seasons, became a platform for Smith’s acting career across film and television.


A dramatic reboot is in development titled Bel-Air for NBC streaming platform Peacock, which will star newcomer Jabari Banks as Smith in the show.

Other cast members include Adrian Holmes (V Wars, Skyscraper) as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman (Atlanta, The Enemy Within) as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan (Evolution Of Nate Gibson) as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones (Vampires vs. The Bronx) as Hilary Banks, and Akira Akbar (Captain Marvel) as Ashley Banks.

Bel-Air has been ordered for two seasons, with the first set to premiere in 2022. The Oprah Conversation: Will Smith is available to stream on Apple TV+ from November 5.