Joseph Marcell of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' Still Loves Acting at Age 71 but Prefers Theatre Scene

Joseph Marcell is better known for his role as the smart British butler from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." However, his accomplishments to this day go way beyond the screen. At 70, he's still passionate about acting, even though he prefers the stage over the TV screen.

Joseph Marcell can’t be out on the street without someone yelling “Geoffrey!” and hoping for him to confirm their suspicions. It’s been 23 years since the show's last episode was aired, and still, fans recognize Marcell as the friendly butler that served the Banks family in “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

These days, the father of two is still working. However, he has moved back to England, where he is part of the board of The Globe, a playhouse and acting company in London.

He has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Royal National Theatre on numerous occasions. He is considered a veteran in theater both in England and the US.

Marcel doesn’t miss his role in the TV show that made him an international star, nor any of the other parts he’s had through his career. He told The Observer in 2017:

"I don’t think you should try to conflate the types (of entertainment). It is the same profession, to an extent, but they are so different."

He enjoys the art of the words, especially if they come from Shakespeare, no matter the size of the audience. He said:

"I once played a show for three people. We had six in the cast, not including the crew. Small audiences have never been a problem for me. You just make contact with them (no matter the size of the crowd)."

He also told Kreol Magazine: 

"The screen pays better, but the stage is for the soul. The stage forces you to maintain performance over several months. You learn to adjust to the eccentricities of your director and the discoveries of your fellow actors. The interaction with the audience keeps the play alive and evolving."

Marcell has given life to King Lear, Otello, Titus Andronicus, and has participated in plays like “Macbeth,” “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” “Lady Windermere's Fan,” “The Tempest” and “Gem of the Ocean” among others.

And although theater is his first love, Marcell made his return to the screen as part of the cast for Netflix’s original film “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” which was released this year. He also made small appearances on “HERO Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross,” and “Wrapped Up In Christmas.”

He's also maintained a good relationship with his Fresh Prince co-stars. Two years ago, the cast reunited and gifted fans of the '90s series with a photo that left everyone aching with nostalgia. Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Will Smith and Daphne Maxwell Reid, all smiled at the camera alongside Marcell. Ribeiro wrote in the photo's caption: 

"Always amazing to spend an afternoon with my Fresh Prince family. Wishing that James Avery was still with us to make this complete."

Avery, who played the Banks patriarch, died in 2013. Joseph has been married to Joyce T. Walsh from 1995, and they have a daughter named Jessica. He also has one son, Ben, from his first marriage.

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