WATCH: Ralph Macchio’s First Screen Test

Ralph Macchio 1980 screen test.

YouTube Ralph Macchio during a 1980 screen test for ABC.

Actor Ralph Macchio, best known for his role as Daniel LaRusso on “The Karate Kid,” has recently skyrocketed back into the public eye with the reprisal of his iconic role on Netflix’s acclaimed series, “Cobra Kai.” Although Macchio might be best known for his character in the popular franchise, the actor actually had a few roles before “The Karate Kid,” including that of Jeremy Andretti on ABC’s “Eight Is Enough,” from 1980-81. In recent years, footage has resurfaced of a young Macchio auditioning for ABC.


Macchio’s First Ever TV Appearance Was “Eight Is Enough”

Ralph Macchio in "Eight Is Enough" episode.

YouTubeRalph Macchio and Betty Buckley as Jeremy Andretti and Abby Bradford, respectively, in “Eight Is Enough” (1981).

Shortly before the 1980 screen test, Macchio had completed production on “Up the Academy,” a 1980 Warner Bros. film, in which he portrayed Chooch Bambalazi in his first-ever on-screen appearance.

Although “Up the Academy” was Macchio’s first on-screen role, it was not his first experience in show business. In fact, Macchio actually had a long career in dancing. According to Biography.com, Macchio, who had been dancing since the age of three, was discovered by a talent agent during a local dance recital when he was 16. Although the agent wanted to send him to some local commercial auditions, Macchio wasn’t enthused about the idea. The article explains: “Once, when an audition conflicted with an invitation to a beach party that seemed too good to pass up, he sent a friend to the audition in his place.”

However, despite his ambivalence, Macchio ended up landing the role in “Up the Academy” two years later, propelling him into his career of acting. Macchio would go on to obtain the role he is auditioning for in the clip: his first-ever television role (and second on-screen role overall) as Jeremy Andretti on the ABC dramedy “Eight Is Enough.” Macchio/Jeremy’s first episode would be, appropriately, “Jeremy,” which aired November 5, 1980. Jeremy Andretti was the nephew of Abby Abbott Bradford (Betty Buckley), wife of protagonist Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten), who came to live with the Bradfords until his estranged father could be located, according to IMDb.


18-Year-Old Macchio’s Audition With Phil Hartman


Ralph Macchio & Phil Hartman Screen TestI've had a small clip of this on YouTube for awhile, but here is the complete screen test from 1980. The voice you hear reading with Ralph off camera? That's the late, great Phil Hartman. This is from a 3/4" videotape that I acquired from a Hollywood estate – filled with screen tests. Enjoy!2014-03-04T23:45:19Z

The screen test, which takes place in 1980, when Macchio was 18 (three years before “The Karate Kid” was shot), consists of the young actor talking to an off-screen ABC producer about various topics, including his background, personal life, and career.

During the interview, it is also revealed that Macchio plays several musical instruments, including trumpet, piano-organ, and “a little drums.”

Macchio, who is known for perpetually looking younger than his age, is asked by the interviewer how if it bothers him that he looks “15 or 14,” to which he replies, “No. As far as business-wise, it’s been the best thing I could ask for… People just accept me that way.”

Macchio would later have a different perspective on his appearance, saying in a 2014 interview with OWN, “it was a struggle, being someone who was now 26 and still able to play a high school student. That created certain issues for me graduating in the roles that might’ve been richer next.”

In the clip, Macchio is jointly auditioning for both “Eight Is Enough,” and an unnamed “Dracula series,” as he calls it. However, only the audition for the Dracula series is shown, likely Mr. and Mrs. Dracula, an ABC production for which two pilots were shot in 1980 and 1981, though was never picked up for a full run. According to the video’s description, the voice that can be heard in the background reading with Macchio is that of Phil Hartman, the late comedian who was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member for eight seasons, from 1986-1994.

Fans reacted very positively to the old screen test, with one commenter on the video saying, “I wanted to cry because he was so cute and his SMILEEE like ahhhhh im dying inside.” Another exclaimed, “WHY IS HE SO PLEASING TO LOOK AT…don’t you love his smile and how adorable he is and everything about him?” Another popular comment said of his performance, “He’s such a natural actor. He just nailed the scene.”

Although this screen test may have marked the beginning of Macchio’s long career in acting, it certainly hasn’t reached its end. Be sure to catch Ralph Macchio continue his role as Daniel LaRusso on Netflix’s “Cobra Kai.” Season 4 will be released Dec. 31.

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