Thomas Ian Griffith Discusses Working With Pat Morita

Pat Morita

Getty Pat Morita acknowledges the crowd after singing the National Anthem at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

Thomas Ian Griffith starred as the villainous Terry Silver in the 1989 film “The Karate Kid Part III.” In the movie, the character constantly manipulates Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and eventually faces off the teenager’s mentor Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). During a July 2021 interview on the “Cobra Kai Kompanion” podcast, Griffith, who joined the cast of “Cobra Kai” for its upcoming fourth season, spoke about working with Morita.

The actor noted that Morita, Martin Kove, who plays ruthless sensei John Kreese, and the “Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio, were all “just so welcoming” to him during the production of “The Karate Kid Part III.” He specifically noted that the “Happy Days” star, who passed away in 2005, “was so kind [and] so generous.” 

“It just made me feel so at home. Funny as h*** off-set. But really made it such a great experience,” said Griffith. 

The 59-year-old also referenced that Silver was “over-the-top” and “maniacal.” He went on to say that Morita was encouraging of his portrayal of the unhinged businessman. 

“Pat was like go for it, you know, he was so supportive. Like I said, super, super great guy. So I enjoyed it,” shared the father-of-two. 

Griffith Discussed the Fight Scene Between Silver & Miyagi

During the “Cobra Kai Kompanion” interview, Griffith discussed his and Morita’s fight scene in “The Karate Kid Part III.” One of the podcast’s hosts, Peter Veunnasack, referenced that before the characters make contact, Silver makes a distinct “wa wa” noise. After Miyagi defeats him, the apartment maintenance man makes the same sound. Griffith then revealed that “it was an improvised moment.” 

“I was just horsing around and they kept the one and, but — then again, there’s the genius of Pat Morita. When I’m down, he does what I did to him, you know. And it was gold, you know,” said Griffith. 

William Zabka & Ralph Macchio Have Also Spoken Highly About Morita

The actor who portrays reformed bully Johnny Lawrence, William “Billy” Zabka, has also spoken highly about Morita. During the “Karate Kid” 30th Anniversary Panel Discussion in 2014, Zabka described the late actor as “a really soothing, funny, generous, genuine guy.” He also shared that Morita “had [his] back on a couple scenes” while they were filming “The Karate Kid,” which premiered in 1984. 

“When we did the fence fight scene. I remember in rehearsals I was going about half speed on some of the fights and in my acting level and I wasn’t projecting loud and Pat pulled me aside and said, ‘BZ, BZ, you know, when you do rehearsals you have to give 110 percent man that way when the cameras roll it’s like bread and butter, man. It’s like bread and butter.’ So he was right,” said the “Back to School” star. 

During the panel, Ralph Macchio also noted that “Pat had an incredible work ethic and attention to detail.”

“When the Miyagi character was created and [the film’s director, John] Avildsen was a big, big fan of rehearsing and shooting the rehearsals, which I love, you don’t get to do that often enough and we really formed a sort of theater camp in creating these characters and I remember all the little details that were so important to Pat and John, they would collaborate on them,” said Macchio. 

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