The son of Hollywood royalty reveals what it's like being the new Karate Kid.
Wed May 19 2010
Just a typical training day for Jaden's character.
Jackie Chan (Mr. Han) and Jaden Smith (Dre) on the Great Wall of China
Han Wen Wen plays Jaden's love interest, Meiying.
Jaden Smith as "Dre" and Jackie Chan as "Mr. Han" in Columbia Pictures' KARATE KID.
Jaden Smith as "Dre" and Jackie Chan as "Mr. Han" on the Great Wall of China in Columbia Pictures' KARATE KID.
Jaden Smith as "Dre" on the Great Wall of China in Columbia Pictures' KARATE KID.
Jaden Smith as "Dre Parker" in Columbia Pictures' THE KARATE KID.
Taraji P. Henson as "Sherry" with Jaden Smith as "Dre Parker" in Columbia Pictures' THE KARATE KID.
Jackie Chan as "Mr. Han" with Jaden Smith as "Dre Parker" in Columbia Pictures' THE KARATE KID.
Han Wen Wen as "Meiying" and Jaden Smith as "Dre Parker" in Columbia Pictures' THE KARATE KID.
Jackie Chan as "Mr. Han" and Jaden Smith as "Dre Parker" in Columbia Pictures' THE KARATE KID.
Just a typical training day for Jaden's character.
Photographs: 2009 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
He's this summer's new action hero: buff, ripped, smart and funny. He loves the ladies and the ladies love him. He's cocky—but not too. And he's a kung fu and martial arts expert who kicks major butt in fight scenes. In fact, he's such a rock star, he could give international box-office king Will Smith a run for his money. And he's only 11 years old.
Jaden Smith is perched on a built-in couch in a huge trailer on the set of Hawthorne, the TNT series of which his mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, is the star. While Jada is busy on set, Jaden conducts an interview for his third feature film, a remake of The Karate Kid to be released this month. The film follows a young American boy who moves to China with his mom, and morphs from skinny victim to martial arts master with the help of a kung fu zen mentor.
Jaden stars with martial arts and comedic guru Jackie Chan. "I always wanted to train with Jackie Chan," he sighs, in a red sweater and tan cords, his long hair braided, his almond-shaped eyes very wide. "This was just like doing it. But I also worked out with a Chinese kung fu trainer about four hours a day for three months before, then all during the movie, and I still do." This is why his dad, Will Smith, a producer of the film, thought it would be a good fit for Jaden, who has loved martial arts since he was just a baby Hollywood sprout.
Will and Jada were on the set in China with their young star all of last summer. In fact, the whole family came along, including Trey (All of Us), Jaden's 17-year-old half brother, and Willow (I am Legend, All American Girl), his nine-year-old sister.
After months of training with his parents and siblings at his side, Jaden is totally pumped up—in every way: "Sometimes I see people and I'm like, 'Do you know how to sew, cause I'm ripped!'" he says, with total deadpan delivery, another skill he's aced. "I think I could probably take down a 15-year-old if he messed with me," he muses.
A boy's boy, he's partial to restaurants with ninja themes, and prefers action movies to dramas, favoring his dad's I Am Legend and his mom's Matrix of all their films. Still, he and little sister Willow might make a cinematic drama together called Amulet next. "I don't like movies that make you cry," he admits. "But if girls like dramas, then I'll do it!"
Yes, he's a boy's boy who already has an eye for the young ladies. He has a girlfriend in the movie, and claims the innocent but precocious kiss he shares with her was his "first onscreen kiss—I can't tell you about offscreen," he says. Actually, Jaden likes to tell the little ladies he's 13, because "then they like you more," but he knows he's become famous enough for them to google him. "I guess when I'm really famous, I won't have to worry about it!" he says.
Describing what it's like to have a sassy younger sibling, Jaden says of Willow, "We're very cool, except for the fact that she hates my guts. She always has to be the boss." The big difference between them? "She wishes she was 18, but I like being the age I am. And I listen to people older than me. They tell me it sucks to get older. So I'm happy being a kid."
His dad walks into the trailer to make sure everything is going okay. "Runs in the family," Will says, after being told Jaden is a good interview. "We even do some skits together to freak people out. We won't tell them we're jivin' them. But I always crack up—and he stays deadpan. His comic timing is pretty good, almost better than mine."
"It is better than yours," his son retorts. When Jaden won the Breakthrough Male Star of the Year award at the Showest convention in Las Vegas in March, Will gave him a comic speech to learn and deliver from the stage. "So I got up there," Jaden explains, "and I said, 'My dad gave me a three-page speech to say but I'm not gonna do it, even though it was funny, cause I'm a little scared. So I'm just gonna be me." The theater owners laughed, and Will, hearing this, looks at his offspring with awe.
"This kid is funnier than I was at his age," he chuckles. "But then, he did have me as a father."
Watch the trailer