EXCLUSIVE: Taraji P. Henson To Play Mom in ‘The Karate Kid’ Remake

We keep hearing sudden bursts of news about Will Smith’s remake of “The Karate Kid,” then the project seems to quiet down for awhile. Now, a new actor has signed on to star alongside Smith’s son and she’s a red-hot Oscar nominee coming off “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

“I’m off to Beijing [soon] to work on a film,” actress Taraji P. Henson revealed to us Sunday afternoon on the red carpet of the MTV Movie Awards. “They’re remaking ‘The Karate Kid.’”

The controversial remake of the Eighties classic is rumored to be called “Kung Fu Kid,” although Henson referred to the film by its original title. Will Smith is producing the project, which will cast his real life son and “Pursuit of Happyness” co-star in the role originally played by Ralph Macchio. When we caught up with Macchio a few months back, he expressed cautious interest in the project.

“Benjamin Button” star Henson, who played Brad Pitt’s adoptive mom Queenie in that film, will once again tap into her maternal instincts for “Kung Fu Kid” or whatever it’s called, playing Jaden Smith’s mother. According to reports, Henson’s character is a single mother named Sherry who is forced to move with her son to China in order to keep her job.

“Jaden Smith -– Will and Jada’s son -– is playing the karate kid. I’m playing his mom,” she explained. “And Jackie Chan is playing Mr. Miyagi.”
Mr. Miyagi role had been changed to the name Mr. Han — although “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” fans would undoubtedly get a bigger laugh if the latter name was kept.

Henson is currently hard at work on the Steve Carrell/Tina Fey comedy “Date Night,” and she’ll be flying to Beijing to shoot “Karate Kid” as soon as she’s done with that film. Stay tuned; if Henson is soon off to start shooting, then we can expect more casting to be announced soon.

Does an Oscar-nominated actress make the “Karate Kid” remake sound any better in your opinion? Will you keep an open mind, or is the project still scaring most of you folks at this point?