Jaden Smith, the 11-year-old son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, stars in "The Karate Kid," a remake of the 1984 original that spawned three sequels. Opposite Jackie Chan, who takes over the role of the unassuming martial-arts mentor to a bullied youngster, Smith plays Dre Parker, a Detroit kid transplanted to Beijing for his widowed mom's new job there. Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), 39, plays his mother. Both stars were interviewed by telephone last week.
GETTING THE ROLE My dad just came up with it one day. And when he said, ''Oh, Jaden, you're going to be the Karate Kid,'' I had to see the [original] movie, so I did.
SPEAKING WITH ORIGINAL STAR RALPH MACCHIO I talked to him on the phone and he was, like, ''Oh, so I hear you're doing this,'' and basically his whole thing was, ''Go hard and don't screw it up.''
SHOOTING THE MARTIAL-ARTS SCENES It was very well choreographed, and I did all of my own stunts. I've been training [in Kung Fu] since I was 3.
LIVING IN CHINA FOR FOUR MONTHS I wanted to be home, man. I was a wreck while I was there. It was very lonely, but then I made new friends. I did have burgers - I had a place called Bling Burger. It's just like In-N-Out, but when you go back to the States and have In-N-Out and then [come back and] have a Bling Burger, it's nasty.
BEING IN CHINA FOR THE FIRST TIME I saw everything in the movie: the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Happiness [and longevity]. The only location I didn't go to was the temple in the Wudang] mountains. They had to scale down the crew because it was going to be tough getting all the equipment up the mountain. And also, at the time, I had to fly back to the States because I had to do promotion for "I Can Do Bad All by Myself."
WORKING WITH JADEN SMITH He's good - he's incredible - I guess because of his genes. But that doesn't mean your kid is going to magically come out like that. My kid is not interested in acting at all, and he grew up around it his entire life with me. But I don't think it's anything Will and Jada forced onto him - it's something he kind of found in his own way. He's just drawn to it and is such a natural. He's ahead of his years, but then he's still a kid, and I expect that's the way Will and Jada have brought him up. He's being parented.