Ralph Macchio first portrayed the character Daniel LaRusso in the 1984 martial arts film The Karate Kid. The actor went on to star in the two subsequent sequels, released in 1986 and 1989. Since 2018, he has continued to play Daniel on the acclaimed series Cobra Kai, which is available to watch on Netflix.
For Many Years Macchio Was Not Interested in Revisiting the Film Series
However, Macchio was not always interested in revisiting the Karate Kid universe. During a 2019 interview with Business Insider, the actor revealed that he received numerous pitches to revitalize the martial arts film series, but did not want to be a part of any potential reboot.
“The concept of going back, I was always ‘No, no, no.’ Why touch that again? It has such a blessed light on it. Everything happened right. Pat Morita’s [as Mr. Miyagi] performance is treasured. Why would you go back and do that when everyone is trying to do that — and, for the most part, failing?” explained Macchio.
He then revealed he had been approached about the 2010 Karate Kid remake, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.
“Like, when they remade the movie, I told them, ‘Go make your movie. I’m not going to be involved.’ I let that be its own thing… They wanted me to do a cameo or something in it, and I passed on that,” said Macchio.
During the interview, the 59-year-old discussed his decision to star in Cobra Kai, created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg. He disclosed that he found their pitch to be refreshing. He told the publication:
[T]hese guys really had a very well-thought-out pitch by coming in through the eyes of Johnny Lawrence [played by William “Billy” Zabka] — basically turning the prism view in the universe. And they had such passion. It was an instinct that they wanted to make a show the fans wanted to see. I have said no for 30 years. I was definitely the last guy to come to the party. I was the piece, arguably, that they had to get.
He went on to say that he appreciated the creators’ respect for the original films and how they incorporated the memory of Mr. Miyagi in the show. Macchio also noted that he felt a television series was the correct medium to continue the franchise.
“We’re making these five-hour movies — that’s how we approach it. I don’t think The Karate Kid would have been made as a movie today. I think it would have been a series on one of these platforms,” said the actor.
Macchio Talked About Being Pitched the Show in a January Interview
In a January interview with Empire Online, alongside his Cobra Kai co-star William “Billy” Zabka, Macchio shared more information about being pitched the show. He noted that Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg started by “talking about bullying, spoke about all the themes” before revealing the show’s title was going to be Cobra Kai.
“And there was this little pause. Because they knew, ‘We have to say the title, but we don’t wanna lead with the title, ‘cause we might lose him.’ We laugh about it now, because I was spinning it in my head, ‘What are the fans gonna think? What’s my mom gonna say?’” recalled Macchio.