Karate Kid, The: Interview with actor Jaden Smith

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Jaden Smith stars as Dre Parker in "The Karate Kid," the remake of the 1984 classic, also starring Jackie Chan. The film was released on June 11 by Sony Pictures. 

"Dre Parker is a cool American kid who’s left Detroit and now is just trying to make it in China,” says Jaden Smith, who previously starred alongside his father in the The Pursuit of Happyness and now takes the star reigns himself, headlining The Karate Kid.  “He’s definitely having a rough time – he feels like he just doesn’t fit in.  He doesn’t mean to, but he gets on the bad side of some bullies.  He’s got no friends and nowhere to go, and that’s when he finds out that his building’s maintenance man, Mr. Han, is a kung fu master.  Mr. Han teaches him kung fu, and they end up having a special bond between them.”

 

Working with Jackie Chan

 

Smith’s relationship with Chan really did mirror their characters’ in the film.  “He is amazing.  He was always teaching me things,” says Smith.  “How to stretch correctly, how to be in a scene, how to focus.  He was right there with me the whole time.”

 

In addition to the invaluable training from Master Wu, Smith had another way of learning kung fu.  “I watched a lot of Jackie’s movies and even copied some of his moves,” laughs Smith.  In fact, an entire sequence – in which Mr. Han and Dre train and spar with sticks – is a reference of sorts to one of Chan’s earliest and most famous fights.

 

Fighting

 

Jaden Smith says movie fighting is not easy.  “You have to actually hit the person – you do it softly, but you make it look hard,” he says.  “You also have to block.  If you don’t block the hit, you’re going to get hit in the face.”

 

“I want to stay buff,” says Smith.  “If Taylor Lautner ever needs a stunt double, I’m ready for action.”

 

A Number of Firsts

 

Smith enjoyed working alongside his Chinese costars.  “I learned a lot of kung fu from them, and I taught them their first English words: ‘Yo.  What’s up.’”

 

“It was my first screen kiss, too,” says Jaden Smith.  “It was kind of odd when we first started shooting the scene and then Wen Wen started getting nervous so I just said, ‘Relax, relax…I’m good at kissing, so it’s gonna be alright!’  And finally it was all fine and we got the shot.”