Last month Variety confirmed that Jackie Chan was in final negotiations to portray the martial arts mentor in producer Will Smith’s KARATE KID remake. While at Sundance, MTV caught up with the original Karate Kid Ralph Macchio who wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea.
“I don’t know,” said Macchio. “I think Jackie Chan, we all assumed that’s where they were going to go — unless they were thinking of just casting an unknown.”
“The thing is whether Jackie Chan gives you Jackie Chan, or if Jackie Chan does a, you know, real stretch to the character.”
Macchio went on to explain that he and fellow cast and crew on the original KARATE KID had similar concerns about what Pat Morita, a sitcom actor could possibly do for the role. “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,” recalled Macchio. “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.”
With the production headed to China, Jackie Chan likely to fill Morita’s shoes and 10-year-old Jaden Smith taking on the role of then 23-year-old Ralph Macchio, the KARATE KID remake is likely to see some significant changes but Macchio ultimately voiced support.
“I think Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, with a good script, and all the moons in alignment? It could be another big fat hit.”
MTV says they have more comments from Macchio, including his thoughts on doing a cameo in the film.
The untitled KARATE KID remake is scheduled to begin production this summer in Beijing.
Jackie Chan • Ralph Macchio • upcoming