Discussing who could portray Mr. Miyagi in a Cobra Kai spinoff-prequel involves a bit of nuance. The character hails from Okinawa, Japan, so, ideally, an actor of Japanese descent should portray him. Under this constraint, Ken Watanabe might be the best young-ish Miyagi we could imagine. He first hit Hollywood in the underrated Tom Cruise film, The Last Samurai, as Lord Katsumoto Moritsugu, the leader of the samurai revolt that Cruise’s Captain Nathan Algren was sent to quell. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Since then, Watanabe appeared as the fake Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, a role that required him to offer a commanding presence with minimal dialogue. He’s also played the King of Siam in The King and I, and portrayed Dr. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa in two Godzilla movies. Literally, the only knock on his prospects for playing Miyagi is the fact that he’s 6-feet tall, whereas the sensei’s original portrayer, Pat Morita, was 5-foot-3.