Jabari Banks refuses to let himself get complacent in his role as Will Smith on Bel-Air Season 2.
With the show a bonafide success and viewer numbers increasing week by week, it’s natural to wonder if Banks has begun to relax into the role now that the pressure to prove himself has eased. But the young actor says no way.
“Oh, no. Never relaxed. You always keep your foot on their throat, you know what I mean?” Banks said of his approach to the role in the series’ second season. “Being able to dive deeper into this character and peel back the layers in a different way, because in season 2, you’ll always have expectations. So I had to let go of that. Once I let go of that I found the freedom to really create this character and make him mine.”
“Will Smith made that character his, and we all love that character for that. So it’s my opportunity and my job now to make this character mine. How is my character different? I was allowed to play, and I’m grateful for that.”
Banks says his version of the character is a bit more vulnerable, prideful, fiery, and rebellious in this more dramatic reimagining of The Fresh Prince. And the fans have responded with a resounding affection for this new Will, taking Banks from obscurity to international recognition in just under a year. So how is he adjusting to fame?
“It’s been fun. I love all the people who love our show, and I love the ones who don’t. I’m just a loverboy,” he laughed, recalling meeting a young fan who got his haircut to match Banks’ own after falling in love with the show.
As for season two, Banks says its twists, turns, and plot points are nothing short of “unexpected.”
“We’re going to go deeper into the story this season, and it’s going to shock some people, the different sides of these characters and seeing how they act…there are some shocking things for sure.”
Bel-Air streams Thursdays on Peacock.