Netflix’s Cobra Kai series has brought back several key characters from the Karate Kid film franchise, but the show sadly has to exist without the help of Mr. Miyagi. Pat Morita, who brought the iconic character to life nearly 40 years ago, passed away back in 2005. Even though Miyagi can’t physically appear on the series, his fingerprints are all over it, as the story of Daniel and Johnny still devotes a lot of its focus and energy into the teachings of the beloved karate teacher.
Everyone involved with Cobra Kai has been committed to honoring the legacy of both Miyagi and Morita ever since the series began, a tradition that will continue through the final episode. Following the premiere of Season 4, franchise star Ralph Macchio spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how the series continues lifting up Morita and Miyagi.
“For me, on the first day that I heard the concept from the creators of the show, that was something that was so important to me, to have the character woven throughout the series. It is paying great respect to the character and homage to our partnership and that magic that we shared, that special connection,” Macchio explained.
“He would have loved all this,” the actor continued. “And I speak to his daughters on occasion and stay connected in that way. I didn’t have to fight to have Miyagi in the show, the creators were all over it. But it is something we work at together to inform the next generation, to inform the story to the young cast and young audience who are embracing the show and watching it with their parents and grandparents.
“It is great to share the legacy of the Miyagi character and how he still speaks today. We feel that spirit on the set. It is important, to me personally, to keep that grounded element on the show with the larger-than-life heights. It needs that heart.”
Cobra Kai features plenty of flashbacks to the original Karate Kid films, in addition to keeping characters like Daniel focused on what they learned from the life and teachings of Miyagi. Everything Daniel does in the present day is meant to honor his late mentor, and it sounds like the same is true for Macchio in his work on the series.
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