One of the most beloved comedic actors of the 20th century that brought to life two of the most iconic characters in pop culture with TV's Happy Days as Arnold Takahashi and the Karate Kid franchise in Mr. Miyagi through four films, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita became a large than life figure bringing joy to audiences for generations. Director Kevin Derek now brings to light the life of the Japanese-American, born in June 1932, who struggled growing up with tuberculosis, finding fame as a stand-up comedian and actor, and battling his own demons with alcohol and drug addiction in his upcoming documentary More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story.
Morita, who passed at the age of 73 in 2005, became a regular presence on television, so much so, he achieved a rare feat of becoming an Asian leading man in Hollywood. While known mostly for his comedy, he's done some dramatic work, most notably as the teacher of Daniel LaRusso for the Karate Kid films. As the title suggests, the documentary covers far more than just his career that includes archive interviews with the actor himself and co-stars like Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence), and Martin Kove (John Kreese), who continue TKK legacy on the Netflix series Cobra Kai as well as from Happy Days in Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham) and Henry Wrinkler (Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli). Others interviewed include James Hong, Sean Kanan, Esai Morales, Tommy Chong, Don Most, Anson Williams, and more.
Morita's kept busy throughout his 50-year career with 175 credits ranging for film, television, and voiceover work. For the original 1984 Karate Kid, he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. The following year, he earned Emmy, and Golden Globe nods for his memorable performance in the TV movie Amos playing Tommy Tanaka. He also turned noteworthy performances for a new generation of admirers as his voice as the Emperor of China in Mulan (1998) and its 2004 sequel. More Than Miyagi premieres on streaming on February 5.