Arguably, Ralph Macchio’s most iconic role is Daniel LaRusso from the Karate Kid film franchise. As of 2018, he has continued the character’s storyline in the acclaimed series Cobra Kai, which is available to watch on Netflix.
Macchio Recently Revealed His Association With ‘The Karate Kid’ Impacted His Career
In a February interview on the Life is Short podcast, hosted by actor Justin Long, Macchio discussed how being viewed as Daniel LaRusso was detrimental to his acting career.
He noted following the release of the first three installments of the Karate Kid film franchise, opportunities to star in movies “dried up.” The 59-year-old revealed that he had difficultly getting cast in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny.
“My Cousin Vinny was not easy to get. I had to fight to get in the room [to audition],” said the actor.
Macchio then disclosed the studio was hesitant to cast him as the character Bill Gambini due to the fact he was “so associated with Karate Kid.”
“[The studio] told Jonathan Lynn, who was the director, basically, ‘he’s the Karate Kid, we don’t want him, you know… you’re just going to see that,’” said the father-of-two.
While he managed to get the role, he was up against two A-listers, Ben Stiller and Will Smith.
“They were looking at Will Smith and Ben Stiller. Why? Because they were both right at the cusp of breaking out and I was, you know, arguably at the other side of the hill,” stated Macchio.
The Actor Spoke About Encountering ‘Karate Kid’ Fans
During the interview, the actor also noted since The Karate Kid premiered in 1984, fans have gone up to him repeating the movie’s catchphrases like “sweep the leg.”
He also joked that he refrains from washing his car in public, in reference to the famous scene in The Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel martial arts through chores.
“I have a very dirty car. I choose to never wash it. It’s like, ‘why does your car like like s***?’ Well because if I pick up the sponge I have to deal with that,” quipped the actor.
Macchio then implied that he did not enjoy being recognized by fans for playing Daniel LaRusso in the 1990s. He referred to that period as his “lean years” as an actor.
“Those were the times I was [thinking] will I ever get out of this tunnel,” explained the actor.
He went on to say that having younger fans has helped him appreciate his position as a celebrity.
“I get the 8 year old kid who wants to show me his crane kick on a given Tuesday. Then it’s like bigger than anything. That’s where I went from being like enough already to — and I was never negative about it — but it went from okay this is tiring to wow what a privilege,” explained Macchio.
The actor then talked about the impact of Cobra Kai. He stated that he is pleased that he has “the opportunity to place smiles on people’s faces and make them feel like a kid again.”
“[With] this show I hear that all the time. ‘Thank you for bringing back my childhood making me feel like a kid again’… It’s a very satisfying feeling in our current world to sort of a be a ray of light,” said Macchio.