Yesterday, the public learned of the passing of a central figure to many people born between 1980-1990. James Avery, the actor who amassed over 150 acting roles throughout his career–the most notable being his role as Uncle Phil in the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”–passed away due to “complications from open-heart surgery”. He was 68 years old (via CBC News).
The above clip was probably the most emotional scene from the well-known sitcom. I remember when I watched it. I was home from school, lying in bed, watching my 13″ tube television. Will’s dad came back! At first, Will was hesitant to attach to his father, but after going to the fair, and a bit of trash talk, he rekindled the childlike admiration for his father. Uncle Phil, however, was weary of the new-found relationship but Will had made up his mind. In an act of apology, Will’s father offered Will to come with him on the road for the summer so they may catch up on all the lost time. Will was ecstatic: immediately packing for the trip, and even buying him an adorable gift.
The conflict comes when Will’s father–known deadbeat–comes back to let Will know that he again will disappoint him and leave, without him. It is at this point is when the following amazing scene ensues. Acting through pure, raw emotion (the dialogue was improvised) this scene caused eyes to water to whoever watched it. The audience can even be heard crying after the scene.
Uncle Phil was more than just a father-figure to Will–he provided the stern mentorship for millions of lost boys and girls across North America. As ridiculous as it may sound, he served as a father-figure for many viewers without fathers of their own. How may people wished they had an Uncle Phil in their life?
Rest in peace, James.