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The Karate Kid - Jaden Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith interview

The Karate Kid, UK Premiere

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JADEN Smith and his mother (and producer) Jada Pinkett Smith talk about some of their experiences of remaking The Karate Kid in China and their hopes for the future.

Q. Jada, how did it come about that you and [husband] Will decided to produce rather than star in the movie?
Jada Pinkett Smith: Well, we knew that we had to participate in some way. We have so much knowledge between the two of us, and in the whole group, that we want to pass on to our children. So we really felt like it was important for us to participate first hand, as far as this project was concerned. I remember there was talk of me possibly playing Jaden’s mother in the movie, but I realised that he was also going to need his Mommy off camera… [as in] the real deal Mommy support [laughs]. And so we really felt like we really had to be there as Mommy and Daddy, and as producers, just to make sure that Jaden was taken care of, because this was a big, big, big endeavour for him to take on. So, we really wanted to support him in every way possible.

Q. Jaden, how tough was it to do all the martial arts in the movie?
Jaden Smith: Well, in the movie I did do a lot of kung fu and martial arts and everything but I had a lot of training before so it was not as hard as I thought it would be. I thought it would be out in the snow, doing push ups in the snow and stuff like that. It wasn’t like that. I trained for all of it, so I could do it much better and now that I trained for all of the kung fu martial arts it just came to me and I could almost have fun when I was filming.

Q. How do you balance success in your career with success in your personal lives? Does faith play its part? You seem to have kept a very happy, sane family… something that’s rare in Hollywood…
Jada Pinkett Smith: It’s very simple, love in its most authentic form. That’s everything… when you love authentically then you can really connect to what’s needed. To be able to look at Will and understand what Jaden needs from him at this moment. Or for me to look at my son and understand what he needs, or my daughter, or even my husband… sometimes it gets tricky. But really, it’s just love, loving, and understanding needs and providing what’s needed.

Q. Are you concerned about the dangers out there for child stars? And how was it seeing Jaden hurt, as he must have been?
Jada Pinkett Smith: Will and I, it’s interesting because we’ve talked about this a lot, but one of the advantages that Jaden has that a lot of child stars don’t is that his parents have been doing this for a long time and so we really understand the industry. We understand the do’s and the don’ts because of the ups and downs that we’ve had. When your Dad is still the biggest movie star in the world, it kind of keeps everything really grounded. He won’t be paying any bills any time soon. So, I think for Jaden, and I know it probably seems a little strange for most people, but for him he grew up in this industry, so it’s not foreign to him. He understands that this is a family business… it’s our business, so it’s not something new and coming into something different.

Q. Jaden, what was the coolest thing about going to China? Did you like the food?
Jaden Smith: I had hamburgers the whole time. I think it was fun but nobody spoke English so it was a little bit weird with that. But I had a good time while I was there.

Q. Was there a culture shock being in China? Did you have some family time out there?
Jada Pinkett Smith: Yes, but it was interesting to be able to submerge our children into a culture that is so different. I remember Jaden, when they were doing chase scenes, he got to see how people live. And he was like: “I had no idea!” So, he decided that he wanted to donate some of his money to Jackie’s foundation, and so it gave Jaden an opportunity to experience certain pieces of life that he might not have been able to see if he hadn’t gone to China and have that experience. And then our daughter fell in love with the language, and she’s been learning Mandarin. It’s something that she’s been keeping up with, so it was really fantastic to have four months in China, really for our children to be able to experience in the way that they have. They have a lot of affinity for China.

Read our review of The Karate Kid

Read our interview with director Harald Zwart