Will Smith Interviews The Fan Who Made The New Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Film
Last month, a video clip titled Bel-Air took the web and social media by storm. The short film was a trailer, conceived and directed by emerging filmmaker Morgan Cooper, which re-imagined The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air as a drama, set in 2019. The video did not focus on lookalikes or catch-phrases gleaned from the original show. Instead, it honed in on core themes underlying the premises of the series, and portrayed them with the depth and thought of the kind of dramas typically reserved for pay TV channels.
Needless to say, in a world where virtually everyone is connected, the clip made its way to Will Smith, the Fresh Prince, himself. Smith was so taken by Bel-Air that he reached out to Cooper, and extended an invitation to the auteur to come to Miami and discuss his vision with Smith. Yesterday (April 26), Smith released a video chronicling the conversation shared by the two men.
Will begins his video with a montage of contemporary creators–Issa Rae, Lil Dicky, Liza Koshy and Lil Nas X–who have completely changed the course of their lives by bypassing the system and releasing their art directly to fans. It is a powerful statement from a superstar whose entire career was built within a gatekeeping culture which he, himself, helped to change. Smith, after all, was the first Rap star to prove that he could succeed in Hollywood, on the biggest levels.
Will starts his interview with effusive praise for Cooper and his work. “This is the first time I heard something [where] I was like ‘Yo, that’s an idea that is brilliant,'” Will says to Morgan. From there, Will asks Cooper how he got the idea. “I grew up watching the show,” Morgan replies. “It’s something that, since I was 5, I remember watching. I remember seeing what you did on screen, so it’s always been a part of me. I remember driving down 71 in Kansas City, and I was just thinking about the show. And, I remember driving under this overpass, and I would say I drove under it, and when I came out, I had the idea.”
Later in the interview, Smith brings in Mike Soccio, a writer on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air from the beginning, to join the conversation. In introducing Soccio, Will says “As funny as the episodes are, there was a whole other layer that you couldn’t do. In a one hour drama, you can do 8 episode arcs.” Smith is visibly excited about the possibilities Cooper has uncovered with his re-interpretation. Will continues, “The dramatic version of these ideas means that you can use existing storylines, but, it’s not going to seem like you’re re-doing an episode because the storyline’s going to be brand new from the dramatic perspective.”
From there, Smith and Cooper discuss what Cooper’s vision would look like as an actual series. “This incident takes place in the middle of Will’s junior year,” says Cooper. “I envision the first season being the rest of his junior year. There’s no worse time for a kid to land in a new place than the middle of the school year.” Cooper then details how the series’ pilot episode would unfold.
While the conversation between the two men does not address it explicitly, it seems like there is quite a high level of interest on both sides to make Bel-Air a reality.