The Karate Kid remake, starring Jackie Chan as Mr. Han and Jaden Smith as Dre Parker, premiered in 2010. The film followed a nearly identical storyline to the original 1984 movie. Like Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), Mr. Han is a maintenance man and a skilled martial artist who somewhat reluctantly teaches a young student. The character also suffered personal loss and mourns the death of his wife and child.
Ralph Macchio Shared His Concerns About Casting Jackie Chan To Star in the Remake
While speaking to MTV at the 2009 Sundance film festival, Ralph Macchio, who famously played Daniel LaRusso in the original franchise, shared that he was concerned about the actor stepping into Pat Morita’s shoes. He stated he was worried that Chan would simply play himself in the movie, as opposed to bringing depth to the role.
“The thing is whether Jackie Chan gives you Jackie Chan, or if Jackie Chan does a, you know, real stretch to the character,” said Macchio.
He then acknowledged that people also doubted Morita when he was offered the role of Mr. Miyagi. Macchio told the publication:
You know, the great thing about Pat Morita is he played [serious when he had to]. He was Arnold from Happy Days! We said the same thing [when he was cast]: ‘Oh, this guy isn’t going to be [dramatic enough]. They wanted like, Toshiro Mifune, or some great actor. And Pat Morita comes in and just embodies this character. He had the humor, he had the comedic chops, but he had the richness of what the human part of that character needed; which is what made it such a great performance.
Will Smith Called Macchio Before the Reboot Was Made
In a 2019 interview with the Jim & Sam Show, Macchio revealed that Will Smith, who co-produced the movie, had called him to address any of his concerns.
“Will Smith called me because I think I mentioned that I was like didn’t — wasn’t in love with the concept of them remaking the movie so I got the call, ‘I know I’m messing with your baby but we feel that there’s meat on the bones here,’” recalled Macchio.
He went on to say that Smith asked if he ‘want[ed] to be involved” with the project, but he declined the offer. The actor, however, did speak to Jaden Smith during the phone call to share some words of wisdom.
“I felt very Obi-Wan to young Luke Skywalker,” said Macchio.
He also stated he was overall pleased with the remake.
“It only enhanced the legacy of the original movie,” said Macchio.
During the interview, the actor also mentioned that Smith currently serves as an executive producer for Cobra Kai. As fans are aware, the acclaimed series, which stars Macchio, is the continuation of the original film series. He explained that Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment made a deal “with Jerry Weintraub Productions and Sony” to make the 2010 film.
“They have piece of the franchise going forward and I would assume they are quite happy with the success of Cobra Kai,” said the 59-year-old.
To see more of Macchio, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available to stream on Netflix.