Documentary on Iconic Actor Pat Morita Explores His Struggles With Depression

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A new documentary on actor Pat Morita seeks to go beyond his iconic role in "The Karate Kid” franchise. “More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story,” directed by Kevin Derek, features the life and career of the beloved Japanese American comedian and actor. Love Project Films has recently unveiled the documentary's first trailer on YouTube.


An Icon Missed

Morita, who died of natural causes at the age of 73 in 2005, is best known for his roles as Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid,” Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi in “Happy Days,” and the Emperor of China in Disney’s “Mulan” films, according to CBR.For his work on ”The Karate Kid,” Morita won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. For his role in the TV movie “Amos,” he received an Emmy nomination.Highly referenced in the first three seasons of the Netflix series “Cobra Kai,” the character of Mr. Miyagi also makes appearances in popular “The Karate Kid” spin-offs via archival footage.

An Icon Remembered

“More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story” will be released on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming platforms on Feb. 5, 2021, Entertainment Weekly reports. The documentary will discuss Morita's success in film and television. It will also dive into his battle with spinal tuberculosis throughout his childhood, his career as a stand-up comedian and his eventual bouts with drug and alcohol addiction. The documentary will also feature archival footage from old interviews with Morita, as well as exclusive interviews with “The Karate Kid” stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, comics Larry Miller and Tommy Chong, and “Happy Days” actors Marion Ross and Henry Winkler.

In the documentary's trailer, Winkler describes his “Happy Days” co-star as a “lovely, lovely man.” Zabka remembers the hardships Morita went through being “in a cast for nine years. From his knees to his neck, for his childhood.""He had a lot of inner demons,” says “The Karate Kid” co-creator Robert Mark Kamen. “He struggled a lot with depression."Morita acknowledged this as a turning point in his life, saying, "That entire chapter of my life changed me forever." Feature Image via Love Project Films