Two weeks after the original Bel-Air prince himself, Will Smith, introduced newcomer Jabari Banks as the actor who will play the new "Will," Peacock has announced the remaining cast. Adrian Holmes will play patriarch Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman will be the family's matriarch, Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan stars as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, and Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks. Of course, the Banks family would be hopeless without their faithful butler, Geoffrey, played by Jimmy Akingbola, as well as Jordan L. Jones joining as Will's best friend, Jazz, and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa.
On Aug. 31, Smith broke the news to fans and West Philly local Banks that he would be taking over the role that Smith originated. The 52-year-old hopped onto a video call to deliver the news directly, a sweet surprise for the young actor.
"From the deepest parts of my heart, I want to say congratulations to you, you have the role of Will on Bel-Air," Smith told Banks.
"I'm ready, I'm so ready to bite down," Banks told the other actor, explaining that his father was the person who showed him the trailer that led to the series' conception. He showed Smith an old photo of himself and several classmates dressed as characters from the original series, sharing that the role is a "dream come true."
"You have a fantastic road ahead of you and I'm looking forward to being an asset for you in this process as you build out your life and your career," Smith said, telling Banks to "go have some fun."
Set in modern-day, Bel-Air is a serialized one-hour dramatic adaptation of the '90s sitcom starring Smith. The show will lean into the series' original premise, following Will's complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. However, Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show, Peacock said in a press release.
The series will be directed, co-written and co-executive produced by Morgan Cooper, who wrote and directed the four-minute spec trailer which debuted on social media in March 2019. Chris Collins was originally tapped to serve as writer, showrunner and executive producer of Bel-Air but was replaced by Empire's Diane Houston and exec producer Malcolm Spellman. Writing duo T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson took over the role in August with Spellman remaining as an exec producer. The series is expected to premiere with a two-season order in 2022.