Christopher Nolan has a lot to answer for, after the critical and commercial acclaim that greeted Batman Begins sixteen years ago led to a ton of well-known properties deciding that if a dark and gritty reboot worked for the Caped Crusader, then it would work for them. While the results have been mixed to put it lightly, few people could have predicted that we’d be getting an intensely dramatic new version of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air out of the equation.
Morgan Cooper wrote and directed viral sensation Bel-Air, which reimagined the beloved sitcom as a hard-hitting family drama dealing with wealth, class, racial and social issues. It just so happened to catch the eye of none other than Will Smith, who signed on to produce the new spin on his breakout project, which was given a two-season order right out the gate by Peacock.
Bel-Air was recently hit by a setback that saw the premiere date pushed to 2022 after showrunner Chris Collins dropped out to be replaced by The 100‘s T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, but the lead role has finally been cast after newcomer Jabari Banks was announced to be playing Will. Of course, it’s fitting that he’s got the same surname as the family at the center of the story, but he’s also a born-and-bred Philadelphia native, so it’s all coming together pretty nicely.
Banks is also a singer, songwriter, rapper, basketball player and university graduate, so he has many things in common with both the real and fictionalized versions of Will Smith. On paper it looks to be perfect casting, and now the floodgates will surely open for Bel-Air to recruit the rest of its major onscreen players.