Karate Kid Creator on Pat Morita’s Alcoholism: ‘It Was Sad To Watch’

Hilary Swank & Pat Morita

Getty Noriyuki "Pat" Morita and Hilary Swank share a scene in the movie "The Next Karate Kid."

Pat Morita famously portrayed the kind sensei Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid film franchise. Cobra Kai continues to honor the character’s legacy by having his former student Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) pass along his teachings at Miyagi-Do Karate. Unfortunately, Morita could not be a part of the acclaimed series as he passed away in 2005.

The Creator of ‘The Karate Kid’ Recently Spoke About His Friendship with Morita  

Mr. Miyagi -- Daniel

YouTubePat Morita stars as Mr. Miyagi in ‘The Karate Kid.’

During a recent interview, which was uploaded on the Cobra Kai Theory YouTube channel, Robert Mark Kamen, who created the Karate Kid, spoke about his relationship with the late actor. He noted that they were close during the filming of the movies. 

“I spent a lot of time with Pat after hours. And on set I would be there and talking to him and stuff like that. And I got to know Pat — not Mr. Miyagi. But he was very funny. You know, he was a comic,” said Kamen. 

He went on to say that Morita’s portrayal of Mr. Miyagi was inspired by his “father and [his] father’s friends.”

“He said, ‘I just picked up their mannerisms, I picked up the way they talked, their tonal things, their cadences, and I made them my own.’ And he did,” recalled the screenwriter. 

Kamen Discussed Morita’s Substance Abuse Issues

Black and white photo of Pat Morita

LOVE PROJECT FILMSPat Morita waves to the camera.

Kamen then revealed the actor suffered from substance abuse issues. He made reference to the hardships in the actor’s life, like suffering from spinal tuberculosis as a child and living in a Japanese-American internment camp.  

“He was a pretty unhappy guy. He had a lot of pain that he carried. You would not see it on-screen and you would not see it when you hung out with him until it got deeper into the night where he drank more. And he had a drinking problem. He was an alcoholic. And he was funny until he wasn’t and it was sad to watch,” noted the writer. 

Kamen clarified that he enjoyed spending time with Morita in Hawaii, where the actor had lived for a few years. 

“We had a great time. We used to go catting around Honolulu ‘cause he knew every club and bar,” said Kamen. 

He stated that people enjoyed Morita’s company, but “at a certain point in the evening he wasn’t great,” due to his substance abuse issues. 

The writer went on to say that despite his personal demons, the actor exuded kindness. 

“He was dealing with a lot of deep stuff but he was the sweetest, sweetest man. He was just the sweetest guy,” asserted Kamen. 

Kamen revealed that he spent time with Morita during his final years while he was living in Las Vegas, Nevada. The writer noted that his alcoholism had worsened. 

“When I saw him in later years, when I would go to Las Vegas — I live on a vineyard and I have a wine business. I would go to Vegas to sell wine and I would see Pat. He had really — the alcoholic had taken its effect and he start out the evening sort of fine. He’d have several drinks and then as the evening went on he just you know kind of lost it. It wasn’t pretty to see. But I loved the guy,” explained Kamen.

READ NEXT: Will Chozen Get His Own Cobra Kai Spin-Off Series? 

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