Fans of Cobra Kai may be surprised to learn that Will Smith has a connection to the acclaimed series. The actor serves as one of the show’s executive producers, alongside Caleeb Pinkett, who is the brother of Smith’s wife Jada.
Ralph Macchio Recently Talked About Smith’s Connection To ‘Cobra Kai’
During a recent interview on the Life is Short podcast, hosted by Justin Long, the “Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio, talked about having a professional connection to Smith.
He first shared a story about how he and the actor both auditioned for the role of Bill Gambini in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny. Macchio explained that the studio was disinterested in hiring him, as he was “so associated with Karate Kid.”
“At that point they were looking at Will Smith and Ben Stiller. Why? Because they were both right at the cusp of breaking out and I was, you know, arguably on the other side of that hill at that moment as far as a young actor,” explained Macchio.
He went on to say that Smith “was actually one of the actors [he] read with” during the audition process.
He then noted that Smith is “one of the executive producers on Cobra Kai.”
Macchio then mentioned that Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment released the 2010 reboot of The Karate Kid.
“Well here’s the thing, the reason that Overbrook, which is Will Smith’s company, and Caleb Pinkett are EPs on the show is because when Jerry Weintraub, the original producer of The Karate Kid, allowed their remake — the Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan remake — I guess they made a deal with Overbrook that they assumed some of the rights going forward,” said the 59-year-old.
Macchio also said that Cobra Kai’s co-creator Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald had to convince “Sony Pictures, Jerry Weintraub Productions, [and] Overbrook” to get on board with the project.
The Show’s Co-Creators Have Talked About Pitching ‘Cobra Kai’ To Caleeb Pinkett
While speaking to Business Insider in 2018, Hurwitz, Schlossberg, and Heald discussed pitching the series to Caleeb Pinkett, who is the “head of creative at Overbrook.”
“We went into that meeting thinking that we would say to him you can still have the movie universe and if Jaden wants to do another ‘Karate Kid’ feature you can still do that, but like Marvel, there’s now a TV show and the movies,” noted Hurwitz.
According to the publication, Pinkett was impressed by the pitch and wanted to move forward.
“He said he was going to talk to Jerry Weintraub’s estate. He was like, ‘We’re doing the show!’” recalled Hurwitz.
The writer went on to say that Pinkett continually showed his support for Cobra Kai before it was in production. He told the publication:
He was the one fighting the fights in our meetings [with Sony].
During the interview, Heald also shared how Cobra Kai star William “Billy” Zabka reacted when they told him they wanted him to reprise the role of Johnny Lawrence.
“It was just mind blowing to him. It took two or three times for him to understand that we were going to further the story of Johnny. He was in shock. There’s not a day that’s gone by that Billy hasn’t thought about Johnny Lawrence because it’s such an iconic role for him. The character never really left him,” explained Heald.