Will Smith’s ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Wasn’t Actually Filmed in Bel-Air
Without the old NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith probably wouldn’t be where he is today as a major box-office draw and established actor. It might seem hard to believe for some generations it’ll be 30 years this September since the show’s debut.
Since leaving the airwaves in 1996, it’s been in perpetual reruns with hardly any letup, including fans clamoring for trivia about production details.
One piece of trivia still perplexing viewers is the supposed Bel-Air house where Will goes to live with his Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian. While everyone knows the interior was an NBC set, the show always presented the real exterior of the mansion in the opening.
How true to life was it that the house was in Bel-Air? According to realtors from recent years, there’s more fiction behind the house than fact.
Houses from TV shows usually aren’t where the show claims
Let’s not jump the gun and assume all houses from iconic TV shows aren’t from where the show takes place. A few TV homes really do exist in settings where sitcoms and dramas of yore were supposedly set.
A good example is the house from the classic 1970s sitcom All in the Family. The house that is seen in the opening truly is in the Queens, NY neighborhood where the Bunkers were supposed to live, despite not looking entirely similar based on the set. Of course, the show itself was taped in a CBS studio in Los Angeles.
Then there’s the famous townhouse in the classic ’80s series Full House. This was also real and located in San Francisco, something noted on many websites.
Fans have visited these famous homes dozens of times, but many have tried searching for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air home in the title neighborhood to no avail. There’s a good reason for that.
The ‘Fresh Prince’ house isn’t in Bel-Air after all
About five years ago, realtors in the Beverly Hills, CA region were interviewed about the Fresh Prince house. It turns out the big mansion is located in Brentwood instead.
A major clue behind it, according to the above realtors, was Bel-Air has hills. Any house in this area definitely won’t be on flat land as seen in the house from the opening credits.
How many fans have tried to find the house in Bel-Air all these years without success is unknown. Before the age of the internet, no doubt the home had a lot of people confused, maybe to the relief of the real occupants who lived in there.
One thing about the home is it’s quite old. Built in 1937, the house has five bedrooms and five bathrooms. Whether it looks like the house did in the show is another thing since there isn’t any visual record from indoors.
What happens if ‘Fresh Prince’ ever revives?
There was talk for a while of Will Smith being interested in reviving Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Most of those rumors have since been shut down after the 2013 death of James Avery who played Uncle Phil.
Not that media refrain from insisting Will Smith is serious about producing a reboot of the series. Maybe he has the intention to use new actors and the same general setting. If so, would they use a shot of the original house again?
An interesting side note is The Jeffersons (yes, George and Louise from the classic sitcom) bought the house at the end of the Fresh Prince series run. Maybe somewhere down the line, Will buys it back from them and returns with his own family.
Most people would consider that immediate potential for a flop. Maybe the occupants of the house wish the same so they don’t have constant drive-bys from tourists.