Bel-Air’s Marlon Wayans Paid Tribute To Ben Vereen, Who Originated His Role In The Fresh Prince

Marlon Wayans and Ben Vereen
(Image credit: NBC/Warner Bros. Television)

Bel-Air has been one of Peacock’s hottest property since its premiere, despite the  glaring problem critics have with it. So far, the series has already touched on hallmark moments from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, including the tumultuous reunion between Will and his absent father, Lou. The original scene was played brilliantly between Will Smith and stage and TV veteran Ben Vereen, and it served as the basis for the reimagining’s take featuring Jabari Banks’ Will and Marlon Wayans’ Lou. After receiving so much love for his take, Wayans was able to meet up with Vereen. After the meeting of the “Lou’s,” the In Living Color alum paid tribute to the Tony winner in a sweet way.

Marlon Wayans relished the opportunity to meet up with his Fresh Prince predecessor and, unsurprisingly, he had to document it on his Instagram. The photo included in the post was sweet enough, but it was Wayans' caption that was truly special. In it, the star praised the 75-year-old Ben Vereen and explained how he impacted his work on Bel-Air:

@willsmith called me about reprising the role of “LOU” on Bel Air. It was originally played by “Sir” Ben Vereen on The Fresh Prince. It had been years since I saw that episode. I was blown away by the performances. I immediately knew I had work to do.

Anyone can understand why he wanted to take a look at the OG episode, considering just how well done it is. Clearly, the actor knew he had big shoes to fill, and had an even greater challenge ahead of him given the remake's dramatic tone. Ultimately, he opted not to do an imitation but to deliver something that felt both fresh but familiar. The Wayans Bros. alum succeeded in tremendous fashion, and he's overjoyed that fans appreciated what he did on the streaming show:

I was so happy the people all enjoyed the beauty of both works. But I’m always going to bow down to the original and the legends because they did it first and they paved the way. Seeing you yesterday and just being able to speak with you was an honor. Thank you Sir for being a giant who’s shoulders we all stand on.

You can't help but love it when a star gives a veteran their props for paving the way. Marlon Wayans is nothing short of a class act, and he had more to say about his meet-up with Ben Vereen in the touching post below:

The OG stars seemed to have no problem passing the torch. Will Smith even gave Jabari Banks some advice on taking up his iconic role.  Other series alums have already co-signed the series like original Carlton Banks actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who is adamant about it being a "reimagining" and not a reboot. Fresh Prince vets Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson even appeared in Bel-Air’s ninth episode as Art Council Board of Trustee members Helen and Janice, respectively. Watson-Johnson originally played Will’s mom Viola “Vy” Smith while Maxwell-Reid played the second Aunt Viv. Hopefully, viewers will get to see more of the original cast on the Peacock series.

The original scene between Will Smith and Ben Vereen still holds a special place in OG Fresh Prince fans' hearts. Just watch the iconic exchange below, which also includes a powerful exchange between Smith and the late James Avery (Uncle Phil):

The dramatic reimagining took a somewhat more intense road, as was expect. You can watch the new scene down below, and try not to get chills:

Needless to say, fans should be grateful that two perfect Lou Smiths were cast in Ben Vereen and Marlon Wayans. And as the show moves forward, I'm hoping that Vereen gets a chance to appear on the new show.

Every season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is currently available to stream with an HBO Max subscription. Bel-Air Season 1 can be watched by subscribing to Peacock. You'll want to catch up on the full season before the second arrives on the streamer.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).