Disney’s new comedy-action series KICKIN’ IT invites viewers into a world where high-jinks ensue amidst the good intentions of a karate dojo just trying to make a safe and fun place for kids to learn a few lessons about life. Co-starring Jason Earles as Sensei Rudy and Leo Howard as Jack, the student who may just be the life-saver for the dojo, KICKIN’ IT offers both adrenaline-pumping action with moments of levity mixed in with fun life lessons.
How would you describe the show?
Jason: It is the world’s greatest action comedy!
What drew you to to the show — what excited you about it?
Jason: After coming off HANNAH [MONTANA], I was excited at the prospect of doing a show that was geared a little bit more towards boys. It’s an action show. So we have a lot of cool fights, and skateboarding and all sorts of action. And we get to do more boy jokes.
Leo: For me, it’s just that it has never been done before. It’s an action mixed with a sitcom, which I think is really attractive to boys ages 6-18.
How would you describe your characters?
Jason: I play Sensei Rudy who runs the worst dojo, the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts chain and I’m sort of like a very goofy Mr. Miyagi. His heart is in the right place, but sometimes his methods are a little more unorthodox and maybe causes more trouble than normal.
Leo: My character is Jack, and Jack is kind of an energetic, fun, cool guy. Everybody likes Jack. Even though he’s cool and all, he still makes his mistakes. Jack also has this talent to be able to lift people up around him and encourage them. So if someone is feeling down, he has a talent to encourage them to do something they don’t want to do and something ultimately believable.
How did your characters originally connect?
Leo: I’m getting ready to lose the dojo because it is under-performing. We’ve got this rag-tag Bad News Bears sort of group of kids and we’re just not performing up to snuff, and I basically suckered Jack into joining the dojo to help out and he discovers that he loves these kids and he wants to help us all get better.
Jason: I think that Jack discovers like the other kids, as a group, they are greater than the sum of their parts. So our dojo, while it’s under-performing at an indeterminate standpoint, it is up to these kids to discover who they are and gain confidence in who they are, learn to interact with each other in a good way.
How many episodes are there going to be?
Leo: So far, I think we’re on number 7 of 13 and total for the season there will be 21.
Do you have a favorite episode so far?
Jason: Last week’s.
Leo: The ’70’s one? Yeah, mine too. We dress up in ’70’s outfits. Very groovy dialogue, which is pretty cool.
Jason: It’s like those great old Kung Fu movies. We got the afros and the long shirts. It’s genius.
If you would use one word to describe each of your characters, what would it be?
Leo: Probably that Jack is very confident in what he does in a good way.
Jason: I would say that Rudy is unorthodox.
Is this a 1/2 hour sitcom?
Jason: Yeah, this is a 1/2 hour sitcom. That’s what is really unique about it. It’s a traditional 4-camera show with huge action elements.
Is it difficult doing such [change such to so] much action in the midst of the show?
Leo: Oh yeah. Not only are we studying our lines, we still have tremendous fight scenes in every episode. That’s a lot of choreography. There’s quite a bit of choreography that goes on.
Jason: And it’s got to be safe too.
Leo: I think it’s going to look good on camera.
How old are the kids at the dojo?
Jason: Our characters are about 13 years old, and our kids in real life are each from 13 to 15 years old. So they are actors, beyond just acting for the Disney shows right now. It’s a cool opportunity for kids who watch to grow up with our characters.
Will girls want to watch the show?
Jason: Yes. For one, our guys are super cute. Leo’s going to be dreamy. We also have our character Kim who is also a black-belt, kick-butt sort of a girl.
Leo: Very tough.
Jason: Very tough. So there’s a girl-empowering element to her. I think she’s testing very well.
Leo: She pushes us all around in the episodes. She bosses us around. It’s a good balance.
Jason: She’s our only girl regular. So she has a very cool role in that she’s one of the guys for the most part, but she’s beautiful and she picks and chooses her moments where she flaunts her femininity. But she’s a very strong character, which is sort of refreshing, especially for a teen show. She’s a good role model.
Were you involved in martial arts before this show?
Leo: I’ve personally been doing martial arts for about 9 1/2 years. So I have been doing martial arts, which really helped me get started.
Jason: And Leo is a black-belt.
Leo: I have been training since I was a kid. I know it was worth it — the training — and it really helped me for the show. I have been able to teach them and help them with the karate and it’s one of my favorite things: to combine what I love the most in acting and comedy.
Jason: I think Leo’s going to be a huge action star. I think this is the launching point.
Did the other kids on the show have experience in martial arts?
Jason: No. We did some fight training before the show launched, but we’re progressing.
What was the genesis of the show?
Jason: I think the creator of the show Jim O’Doherty pitched another show to Disney, and they were like, ‘We like you. We think you’re really funny. We want a karate show. Go write us a karate show.’ So Jim went back and took the idea and ran with it and then pitched them back, and they loved it. And so here we are. It was that Disney was basically looking for something along these lines.
Leo: Really, we keep talking about action, action, action, but it is only a factor. The main show is about 5 kids in San Jose who come together in the dojo — and really learn lessons from each other. Life lessons. Peer pressure. Bully lessons. There’s a good message there and in every episode.
Jason: Just stuff that teens go through. They all go through it and hopefully in an integrated way where the martial arts is maybe the foundation for how they go about learning the lesson. But, really, it’s more about the kids growing up and not so much, ‘we’re going to have big tournaments every episode.’ It would get old after awhile. It really is watching these kids grow up.
Is this show a real depiction of the martial arts world?
Leo: Somewhat. I think the kids will love it also because it’s really how kids talk. It’s not different than what normal kid interactions are like. As for the martial arts, it’s very realistic.
Jason: I think we’ll get a lot of kids excited to maybe try to it. I wouldn’t be surprised as the show takes off there is an uptick in martial arts interest.
To check out this fun new Disney show, KICKIN’ IT premieres Monday, June 13th at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD.
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).