Here’s why Canadians may recognize the new Uncle Phil in 'Bel-Air'

You might also recognize the 'Bel-Air' star from some Christmas Hallmark movies.
January 12, 2022 11:41 a.m. EST
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Unless a social media detox was one of your 2022 goals, you’ve probably seen the anticipated new Bel-Air trailer, which dropped this week. The dramatic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reimagining from Will Smith began with Morgan Cooper’s fresh 2019 short film, and has since become so anticipated that the first episode is dropping post-Super Bowl on Feb. 13.

It’s no wonder that people have already started dissecting the show based on the trailer alone. For those who need a refresher, all of the original characters are there, but modernized and dramatized for this brand new take. Jabari Banks plays the new Will, Olly Sholotan plays Carlton, Cassandra Freeman is Vivian, Coco Jones tackles Hilary, Akira Akbar is Ashley, Jimmy Akingbola is Geoffrey, and Jordan L. Jones plays Will’s bestie, Jazz.

But it was the casting of Uncle Phil that really got the internet talking, to the point where the character was trending on Twitter following the new trailer’s release. We get why—James Avery was one of the most beloved TV dads/uncles, and people would have a hard time with anyone replacing the late actor.

But Adrian Holmes isn’t just anyone: he’s one of Canada’s most prolific stars.

Let’s talk about 19-2

To this day, you’ll have a hard time finding a more nuanced, gritty, or critically acclaimed drama than 19-2. The English series (based on a Quebec format) ran from 2014-17 and starred Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes as two patrol officers with troubled pasts who saw way too many realistic and heart-breaking situations while on the beat. The second-season premiere also featured an incredibly moving tracking shot that easily rivals the always talked-about tracking shot in the first season of True Detective.

Holmes and Keeso both won a Canadian Screen Award for their work on the show, which isn’t surprising considering how deep into the characters the series got. (If you need proof, check it out for yourself on Crave.) For Holmes, it was a chance to play a nuanced character with a lot more going on under the surface, which is kind of what it seems like this new Bel-Air series might be all about.

It's the Christmas movies for us

On a lighter note, if you love a Hallmark rom-com, you may have seen the new Uncle Phil in movies like The Christmas Doctor, Adventures in Christmasing and You Light Up My Christmas. Sure, they might not be Oscar contenders, but what can we say? We. Love. A. Rom. Com. Lead.

He’s no stranger to super heroes

Everyone knows that Vancouver is where all of the good superhero dramas film. Holmes, who was born in Wales but grew up in Vancouver, has definitely starred in a few of them. On Arrow, he notably played Frank Pike, and on Smallville, he tackled two roles: Griff and Basqat. And, although True Justice wasn’t about comic book heroes, Holmes notably played Marcus Mitchell on the action-packed Steven Seagal project.

Does Uncle Phil need “superhero” on his resume? Probably not, but judging by the trailer, he is saving Will from a life in prison and giving him a second opportunity. That sounds like a hero, no?

He’s been in a slew of other Canadian projects

There are about a dozen other Canadian shows that you may recognize Holmes from; ContinuumBattlestar Galactica TV movie, Stargate SG-1MotiveMary Kills People, Wynonna Earp. He’s pretty much a staple in the Canadian TV industry thanks to his ability to tackle all kinds of versatile roles.

And yes, he’s done American projects too

To be clear, Bel-Air isn’t America’s introduction to Holmes. He’s been impressing audiences there for years, too with shows like V-Wars and The Boys, while also tackling gigs in movies like Elysium, Skyscraper, Cabin in the Woods and Red Riding Hood.

Then there’s the Letterkenny of it all

Bel-Air is clearly a drama, but let’s be honest: all good dramas need comedic moments to help relieve some of the tension and balance things out. That’s why so many great comedians blow people away in these dark dramatic roles (Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, Robin Williams, the list goes on).

Holmes definitely has a track record of bringing the laughs, and if the Bel-Air trailer is any indication, then Uncle Phil may need to do that every once in a while. (Um, he now has four kids in his house to guide and raise.) Want to see how funny Holmes can be? We’d like to point you to Letterkenny, in which he plays Bradley. (Catch him here or here.) 

It's definitely a more comedic side to the actor that we’d love to see more of (and have, in series like Hospital Show), and it just gives viewers yet another reason to be excited for Holmes’ Peacock debut. 

Bel-Air drops February 13 after the Super Bowl.

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