While a generation of The Karate Kid fans fell in love with the pairing of Daniel LaRusso and Ali Mills from the first movie in the franchise, another section of fans will forever ship Daniel with Kumiko, his love interest from The Karate Kid Part 2. Tamlyn Tomita, who played Kumiko, is set to reprise the character for the third season of Cobra Kai. In an interview, Tomita revealed what it felt like to reunite with Ralph Macchio after so many years.
"It was like slipping on a favorite pair of socks, or a beloved pair of shoes that still fit, that still are comfortable, and they still look good. [Laughs] That's the important part. It was so easy, and [Ralph and I] were just laughing, like, "Was it really 35 years ago? Has it been that long?" Because it just feels like yesterday."
Her lead role in The Karate Kid Part II was one of Tomita's earliest big breaks. The actress recalled her nervousness while auditioning for the role, and how humble and supportive Macchio was of his less experienced co-actor, despite having already become a huge star after the success of the original The Karate Kid.
"I remember clearly how I was brought in [for the movie] and how wonderful everybody was, but particularly Ralph. He went through the audition process with me, to assure the producers that there was chemistry between us. He was already a star by the time I stepped on set and it was like, "Uh, what am I doing?" He took interest in helping me and guiding me and saying, "It's just all fun, just relax." He never put any pressure on me. He never complained, he never felt irritated or impatient. He knew I was green, I had never acted before, and he really, really took the time to show me the ropes and say, "This is your mark. This is your light." It was just a joyous, wonderful experience. So even though we were reprising these characters 35 years later, I still felt like I was that 21-year-old girl thinking, "Oh my God, this is Ralph Macchio!"
While Daniel and Kumiko had a brief romance in The Karate Kid Part 2, it was revealed in the follow-up movie that Daniel had broken up with her in order to free Kumiko up to take a job as a dancer in Tokyo. Now, decades later, when the two reunite in Cobra Kai, Tamlyn Tomita hopes fans are able to get a sense of the long time spent apart between the two characters.
"For the fans out there, I hope you can feel the sense of nervousness, the sense of awkwardness at the reunion of Kumiko and Daniel, and that was pretty real from Tamlyn Tomita's point of view as well."
Cobra Kai stars William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, and Martin Kove. Season 3 arrives on Netflix on January 8, 2021. This news arrives from Entertainment Weekly.