'Karate Kid': Where the Cast Is Now

The filmmakers of the new "Karate Kid" had a huge obstacle to overcome: how to remake the original film from the 1980s when it's constantly replaying on cable television.

The original iconic film starring Ralph Macchio inspired a generation of kids to take up karate, earned co-star Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination and spawned three sequels, including one starring newcomer Hilary Swank.

The new film, which stars Will Smith's youngest son Jaden in the title role and Jackie Chan filling Morita's shoes, is more like an "homage" to the original, according to director Harald Zwart.

The remake, which opens at theaters on June 11, maintains the same new-kid-on-the-block-beats-the-bully motif of the original. But this time Jaden Smith is transported from Detroit, where he is a popular middle schooler, to China, where his mother, played by Taraji P. Henson, finds work after losing her job.

VIDEO: Movie trailer for The Karate Kid.
'The Karate Kid' Movie Trailer

When Jaden's character, Dre Parker, falls for schoolmate Mei Ying, he makes him an enemy of the class bully, Lui Wei Cheng, a kung fu disciple. Dre knows a little karate but no kung fu, so he turns to his building's handyman, Mr. Han, played by Chan, to teach him.

Even with the new location and the swap of kung fu for karate, Macchio, now 48, had his doubts about the remake.

"I was happy to hear their goal wasn't to do a copycat version, but the movie still airs all the time," he told the New York Post last year. "The reason 'Ocean's 11' worked was because no one had seen the original in 30 years. 'Karate Kid' was on ABC Family last week."

So Will Smith, one of the remake's producers, along with wife Jada Pinkett Smith, put in a call to Macchio to assauge him.

"Will called me up and he's such a cool guy," Macchio told the Post. "He was like, 'I know I'm messing with your baby, but I want you to be happy, so we'll do anything you want.'"

One thing Macchio wouldn't do was a cameo.

"I don't think it makes sense to show Daniel as an adult, since I think he represents so many people's childhoods," he told the paper. "I think seeing him as a grown man could sully that legacy."

Like other fans of the original and a new generation of moviegoers, Macchio will be waiting to see how the new film does.

"It should be interesting to see what happens, but I don't know that we'll still be talking about the remake, or doing their version of the crane kick, in 20 years," he said. "Time will tell."

Below, check out where the stars of the original "Karate Kid" are now and who's taking their place on the big screen:

Daniel and Mr. Miyagi/Dre and Mr. Han

Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita from the original "Karate Kid" and Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in the remake.

The original film was a critical and box office success. It made Macchio, an up-and-coming actor from "The Outsiders," a star and teen idol. It also revived the career of Morita, who played Arnold on "Happy Days."

While both actors continued their roles through two sequels in the '80s, only Morita returned for the third sequel in 1994 to train new student Swank in "The Next Karate Kid."

After "Karate Kid," Macchio took a brief break from acting, returning in 1992 in "My Cousin Vinny," opposite Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci in what was considered his first adult role. Since the '90s, he's made mostly cameo appearances in film and television.

Ralph Macchio now.

Morita never recaptured the mega success of the "Karate Kid" movies, returning to television roles. He was so closely identifed with Miyagi that Macchio believed filling his shoes would be the most difficult.

"I think the tallest order is filling the void of Mr. Miyagi," Macchio told the Post. "He's like a human Yoda and casting Jackie Chan was a smart move."

Chan, the Hong Kong action star who found mainstream success in action-comedy films, brings his comedic side to "The Karate Kid" remake, where he takes up the role as the handyman-turned-kung fu master who teaches Dre how to beat the bully.

Jaden Smith, who plays Dre, is on his way to becoming a star much like his dad. At the ripe age of 11, the young actor, who first appeared on screen with his father in "The Pursuit of Happyness," has been cast in his first starring role.

He's also showing some of his father's musical prowess. Jaden teamed with teen heartthrob Justin Beiber for the film's theme song "Never Say Never." Jaden is the one rapping.

Johnny Lawrence/William Zabka

William Zabka, who played the villain Johnny Lawrence then and now.

Zabka made his mark on Hollywood playing Macchio's nemesis in the original "Karate Kid." He also reprised his role briefly in the sequel.

Macchio sang his praises last year to the Post. "Oh man, Billy Zabka is the ultimate '80s bad guy," he said.

Zabka, now 44, continued to play the bully role in '80s comedies. He also co-starred in the hit TV series "The Equalizer."

In the '90s and 2000s, he acted sporadically while studying to become a filmmaker. A short film he made in 2004 was nominated for an Academy Award.

Don't look for him to make a cameo in the latest "Karate Kid," though he did spoof himself in a 2007 music video he directed for his band. The video, in which Macchio also appeared, went viral.

Julie Pierce/Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank from the 1994 sequel and now.

Swank's first major screen role was playing Julie, a resentful teenager who Miyagi takes under his wing as his latest student in "The Next Karate Kid."

But her career really took off in 1999 when she starred as a transgender man in "Boys Don't Cry," winning the Academy Award for best actress. As if to prove that was no fluke, she took the Oscar again in 2004 in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby."

At 35, Swank is a bonafide movie star. Her personal life has had its ups and downs, though. Since divorcing husband Chad Lowe in 2006, she's been linked to her agent John Campisi.

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