He’s this summer’s new action hero: buff, smart and funny. He loves the ladies and the ladies love him. He’s a martial arts expert who kicks major butt. 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 TV series of which his mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, is the star. While Jada is busy on set, Jaden talks to us about his third feature film, the remake of The Karate Kid.
Jaden stars with martial arts and comedic guru Jackie Chan in the film. ‘I always wanted to train with Jackie Chan,’ he sighs. ‘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.’ Jaden has loved martial arts from a very young age; this is why his dad, Will Smith, a producer of The Karate Kid, thought the film would be a good fit for him.
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 Willow, his nine-year-old sister, who starred with their dad in I Am Legend.
After months of training with his parents and siblings at his side, Jaden is totally pumped up – in every way. ‘I could probably take down a 15-year-old if he messed with me,’ he muses. A boy’s boy, Jaden prefers action movies to dramas, favouring his dad’s I Am Legend and his mum’s The Matrix Reloaded of all their films. Still, he and little sister Willow are slated to star in forthcoming cinematic drama Amulet, based on a graphic novel by Kazu Kibuishi. ‘I don’t like movies that make you cry,’ he admits. ‘But if girls like dramas, then I’ll do it!’
It seems this Smith already has an eye for the ladies. Jaden likes to tell the girls he’s 13, because ‘then they like you more,’ but he knows he’s already become famous enough for them to Google him. ‘I guess when I’m really famous, I won’t have to worry about it,’ he decides.
Describing what it’s like to have another young star in the family – his sister – 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 interviewee. ‘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. ‘This kid is funnier than I was at his age,’ Will admits. ‘But then, he did have me as a father.’
The Karate Kid is in UAE cinemas now.
Martial arts movies: more to try
Billy Jack (1971)
Billy Jack is half Cherokee-Indian, half sort-of cowboy who’s both a martial arts master and an expert gunslinger defending a hippy school from redneck townspeople.
The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
Some say this is Jackie Chan’s finest slapstick martial arts movie, wherein he perfects a style of fighting called ‘drunken boxing’.
The Matrix (1999)
‘I know kung-fu.’ We were as surprised as you, Keanu.
A modern fight movie without wire work or CGI, this is a visual feast of hand-to-hand Muay Thai combat and acrobatics.