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Cobra Kai's Ralph Macchio Reveals What Working With Pat Morita Was Really Like

To the surprise of pretty much everyone, Cobra Kai has become a legit cultural sensation that's somehow managed to thrill long-time fans of the Karate Kid cinematic universe as much as youngsters who've likely never even heard of those classic '80s flicks. That fact is all the more miraculous considering Cobra Kai is centered around the original film's rivals, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). 

Picking up more than three decades after the infamous Crane Kick heard round the ValleyCobra Kai finds each dealing with shadows of the past, the challenges of mid-life, and the return of several characters from Karate Kid films past. 

There has, of course, been one glaring absence in Cobra Kai — that of Pat Morita's beloved Sensei Mr. Miyagi. Morita's absence was addressed by Macchio himself in a recent interview with The View that found the actor lovingly reminiscing about working with Morita (who passed away in 2005) on the original films. "He [Mr. Miyagi] was in him in a way that few actors connect to their roles. He would just snap right into the Miyagisms and yet he had this stand-up comedian background, so he know where all the humor and all the beats were."

Macchio had an obvious appreciation for how easily Morita could shift in and out of Miyagi-mode while working on The Karate Kid films, but he was quick to note how Morita's wicked sense of humor helped keep the mood on set light even in those film's heavier moments. "We would play a scene as in-depth as him talking about his wife and child in the Japanese Internment Camps in that beautiful 'Miyagi drunk' scene, and in-between takes he'd launch into a fart joke with sound effects."

Not surprisingly, Pat Morita is fondly remembered by both of his The Karate Kid co-stars

Ralph Macchio clearly savored every moment he spent with Morita on the Karate Kid films too, describing their time together as "magic." The actor said, "You couldn't help but love him. I was one of the lucky ones to have that little bit of magic that went back and forth."

Macchio's Cobra Kai co-star took part in the interview as well. And while Zabka shared less screen time with Morita on The Karate Kid, the man behind Mr. Miyagi apparently had as profound an impact on him. "The Karate Kid was my first movie, and when I walked onto set there's Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio from The Outsiders, and Pat really took me under his wing," Zabka recalled. "In a way [he] was kinda my Miyagi, helping me feel at place."

Zabka admitted to seeking advice from the more seasoned actor too, noting Morita's advice helped him bring the right energy to one of The Karate Kid's most memorable scenes. "I told him on the first day, 'If there's anything I'm doing wrong, or anything I can do different, please step in and tell me.' When we did the fence fight with Ralph, I remember doing the rehearsals maybe half-speed and half-energy. And he pulled me aside and he says, 'Listen man, when you do rehearsals you gotta give 110%. That way when the cameras are rolling, it's like bread and butter, baby.'"

Bread and butter is exactly what they brought to that scene, and what Morita's stoic presence brought to every Karate Kid movie — so much that his lingering shadow is freely acknowledged by the cast of Cobra Kai. "He's a part of this," Zabka said. "Without him we're not here." There's little question both Morita's and Miyagi's spirits will be every bit as present in Cobra Kai's upcoming fourth season, too.