I Read Will Smith's Reaction To James Avery's Death And My Heart Got Flipped Turned Upside Down

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I Read Will Smith's Reaction To James Avery's Death And My Heart Got Flipped Turned Upside Down

By Joanna Robinson | Miscellaneous | January 6, 2014 | Comments ()

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Most of the reaction posts I saw to James Avery’s death included that profoundly upsetting scene from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air where Avery’s character, Uncle Phil, comforts a young, grieving Will Smith.

It might seem a little disingenuous to view one man’s career through the lens of another, more famous actor. Should we let Will Smith’s reaction or that scene (which is arguably more of a centerpiece for Smith) define the man? If you say to a room full of people “James Avery died,” you might get a chorus of “who?” If you say “Uncle Phil died,” you’re certain to get at least a few heartfelt and sorrowful reactions. That character, that Uncle meant something to us. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to hope that the Uncle Phil we saw and loved on screen resembled the man himself. That’s what Will Smith’s brief tribute here affirms. Is it true? How can we know? We didn’t know James Avery, we knew Uncle Phil. But it’s comforting to believe.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • zeke_the_pig

    'Every young man needs an Uncle Phil'.
    Just what I was missing: a side order of tears to go with my morning coffee and cigarette.

  • Wigamer

    If I could've somehow been raised by Claire Huxtable and Uncle Phil, I'd be so much more successful today.

  • Justin Parr

    He was the voice of war machine in the 90s ironman cartoon.:(

  • Aaron Schulz

    and the Shredder in TMNT from the late 80's early 90's

  • kirbyjay

    and Officer Kennedy in T7S. Poor man had to put up with Kelso.

  • BlackRabbit

    I like the scene where the boys get locked up for allegedly stealing a car and he comes to rescue them, and the police get a little arrogant. Uncle Phil teaches them the error of their ways.

  • noodlestein's danger tits

    When I lived overseas on a military base, they sometimes had stars travellilng through to bigger bases for fun Q&A's, and it was in one of these question and answer sessions that I met James Avery. I was also lucky enough to spend a day giving him a tour of the island I lived on. Because of that, I can say without a doubt that James was wise, kind, ready to laugh, blisteringly intelligent, and uproariously funny. In other words, EXACTLY like Uncle Phil. He was great, and it made me so sad to hear of his passing. My heart goes out to those who loved him.

  • Emm82

    I haven't seen the show in at least 10 years, but damn if I didn't get a bit teary at the thought of no more Uncle Phil. RIP :(

  • pthalio

    I wish Jaden had more Uncle Phil

  • Michael B. Conway

    Dayum! I never watched Fresh Prince, but that scene was amazing! Who knew Will Smith had those kind of chops?

  • Liblan

    Actually from what I know about that scene is Will Smith's own father was missing through a better part of his childhood. While shooting it Smith went off script and actually broke down on camera. The hug at the end was, from what I heard, a very real hug.

  • Smith has chops, or the promise of them, at the very least. Ever see "Six Degrees of Separation?" Watch it, then join me in bemoaning his fidelity to Big, Dumb and Loud.

  • e jerry powell



    Paul is my fucking role, and I'd even kiss Anthony Michael Hall's body double on the lips to prove it.

    I bet Will Smith didn't even appreciate getting to work with Stockard Channing, that bastard.

  • My favorite Uncle Phil moment was in the episode where Will and Carlton trick Geoffrey into thinking he's won the lotto. After he embarrasses himself before the family and quits in shame, the family is thrown in disarray. When the boys confess their prank to Uncle Phil.

    His response: http://youtu.be/JLkBycpU-8s

    It said so much about how he valued every member of his family.

  • Tinkerville

    For those of us without strong paternal figures in our lives, Uncle Phil (and by extension James Avery), really was a fantastic, if fictional, replacement at times.

  • Jiffylush

    I learned to shave when Dr. Huxtable taught Theo to shave.

    (This is not a joke in any way)

    I think "Uncle Phil" was another good role model of what a father should be, which is handy when you never had a good example in real life.

  • CapCalhoon

    I feel you, man... Danny Glover teaching his son how to shave in Leather Weapon 3 (I think) is how I learned. I had an uncle who tried to be there for me; my Uncle John was my "Uncle Phil" and this show made me think it was OK. RIP to the big guy.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Leather Weapon 3 eh...what body part were they shaving exactly?

    (I do realize it's a typo, just making a joke.)

  • PDamian

    I suspect there are a great many children in this country who look to sitcom dads for a strong paternal figure, more's the pity. Thank you, James Avery, and all the other good TV dads, for all you did (and do).

  • True that. God only knows the daddy-issues Al Bundy eased for me.

  • Justin Parr


  • melancholicmess

    I grew up with shows like FPOBA and I love all of them. And yes, I refer him as Uncle Phil too but I do use James Avery when trying to make a point.

  • Elizabeth Randy

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    ✸✸✸✸ ✸✸✸✸ᛦ✸ ✸✸✸✸✸✸ ✸✸✸I haven't seen the show in at least 10 years, but damn if I didn't get a bit teary at the thought of no more Uncle Phil. RIP :(

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