Better.TV's Rhiannon Ally talks to Taraji P. Henson about playing in the Karate Kid and in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Interviewer: She’s already shown as that she can hustle and flow. But now this multitalented singer, actress and mother is kicking it up a notch in her newest film The Karate Kid. Take a look. Taraji P. Henson: Is that makeup? Male: Ow. Taraji P. Henson: What is that? Male: Mom, I ran into a pole. Taraji P. Henson: No, you have a black-eye. You’ve got into a fight? Female: Fighting is not tolerated here. Taraji P. Henson: You heard him, he ran into a pole. Interviewer: The amazing Taraji P. Henson is here in our studio. Welcome Taraji! Taraji P. Henson: Thank you! The amazing, well, I like that. Interviewer: Yeah, you like that? Well, you are amazing. Taraji P. Henson: Oh, thank you! Interviewer: We just saw in that clip there, there are some funny moments in the movie. And it looks like it’s a lot of fun. What was it like filming this remake of an 80’s classic? Taraji P. Henson: Uhm, it was good. It wasn’t stressful for me. I guess it was stressful for the producers. But I knew it was going to be handled with care because you know both Will and Jada come from the era of the original Karate Kid. And I think when they decided to do this and have their son play the new Karate Kid, they took pride and making sure that they didn’t butcher, you know, do anything wrong to mess up the love for the original. Interviewer: Yeah, we see a lot of remakes that in debt actually not being so good. Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, you’re like, “Um, I should’ve left that alone.” Interviewer: Now, you mentioned Will, he’s one of the producers of the film. When you star opposite Jaden, his son, what was it like working with those two? Taraji P. Henson: Oh god! Just the Smith family in general, they’re like a dream family. Interviewer: Really? Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, they just work. They got it all worked out, even watching them ‘coz they were both on the set every day. Even watching them be a parent and just that they walk that fine line between being a parent and a producer with Jaden and they did it. They’re just good. They’re just good! I wish they could adopt me. Interviewer: Well, you have a son of your own. Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, I do. Interviewer: You actually play Jaden’s mom in the movie. Did you draw inspiration from your own son? Taraji P. Henson: Actually, yeah, when I read the script, there were a lot of parallels between my character Sherry and myself. For instance, moving from DC to Los Angeles, that was like my Beijing. Interviewer: Really? Taraji P. Henson: I’ve never been to LA before. Interviewer: You just up and moved without…? Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, I’d never visit; I think I visited once when I was two. I don’t remember. So, coming to LA was sort of like my Beijing. Yes, it’s still in the States but it’s 3,000 miles away from everything I know and love and remember. So, that’s the first thing I identify with in the film, wow, how that must have feel for her to have, you know, her back was against the wall. She lost her job in Detroit. And she gets offered a job in Beijing. What is she going do? She has to go. She packs a kid up and she kind of goes. She just does it. He like fights it in the beginning but… Interviewer: She’s a very strong character. And you’ve played a lot of very strong characters through the years. We saw you in Hustle and Flow, a pregnant prostitute. You’re amazing in that one. Taraji P. Henson: She was a prostitute? Hmm… Interviewer: Sort of. We also saw you in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. You got an Oscar nomination for that, congrats on that. Taraji P. Henson: Yeah, thank you! Interviewer: What tore you to this film after doing those types of roles? Taraji P. Henson: Uhm, well I needed a job, no. I was just, I was always a huge fan of the original Karate Kid. And I just thought, “Wow, what a great opportunity to remake it.” Like, totally, that’s all we did was update it. It’s the same story. It’s just updated. You know, the Karate Kid is little darker in complexion and he’s short and cute, younger though than the original. Interviewer: So, we’ve mentioned The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, what was it like working with Brad Pitt on that? Taraji P. Henson: Oh, it was amazing. He talked about, one talk, one of the few times that I was ever star struck, that was one time. I mean ‘coz there was like Kate Blanchet and Brad Pitt. It’s like, whoo hoo, and I’m right in the middle. It’s like, great, this is where I want to be. No, but he’s incredible. He was just the sweetest guy, even through the entire award season; I was up for pretty much every award. And then when I didn’t win, he would always check on me. He’d be like, “Are you…” and I’m like, “Brad, I am fine. It’s okay.” Interviewer: That’s not too bad having Brad Pitt checking on you. Taraji P. Henson: Exactly. Interviewer: That’s great! Well thank you so much for sharing all that with us today, Taraji. Taraji P. Henson: Thank you! Interviewer: And make sure to see Taraji P. Henson in The Karate Kid. It’s in theatres now.