Ralph Macchio became a Hollywood star for his role as 17-year-old Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid. What most fans don’t know, however, is that Macchio was actually 22 years old when he took on the role. Macchio was born on November 4, 1961, according to IMDB.
Cobra Kai rebooted The Karate Kid franchise in 2018, when Macchio was 56 years old. Even though he is approaching 60 Macchio still looks and moves like a much younger man.
Macchio Blames His Youthful Look on His Parents
Macchio is aware that his age sometimes surprises fans. He spoke about it in an interview with People Magazine.
“Listen — I blame my parents,” Macchio told People. “They both look very young for their age. I have a youthful energy about me for some reason. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t hurt. But I think I’ve just gotten lucky in the gene department.”
Even though Macchio has maintained youthful looks over the years, he told PopCulture that his body does not always move the same way it did 35 years ago. He told them that returning to Karate training was difficult because “Everything hurts and there’s just a lot of stretching now. A lot of injury prevention.”
“I’ve never been an athlete, [but] it’s part of what works for me in this role,” he told PopCulture. “I’ve done athletics and been physically active, but there are certain people that are just built like athletes and there are ones that aren’t [and] have to work a little bit harder to make sure they don’t get themselves hurt.”
His Age Changed the Plot of ‘The Karate Kid Part III’
The Karate Kid was released in 1984 when Macchio was 22 years old. The Karate Kid Part III came out five years later when Macchio was 27. His co-star Robyn Lively, however, was only 16 at the time.
Lively said that she was only 16 at the time of filming on the Below The Belt Show podcast. She said that her role of Jessica Andrews was originally written to be Macchio’s love interest, but her age forced producers to modify the role.
She tells the podcast “The age difference was so awkward that they ended up changing it so that I would just be his friend,” she says. “He was married, I was just a teenager.”
Macchio married his wife Phyllis Fiero in 1987. Fiero and Macchio met when they were only 15 years old at a birthday party, according to The Pioneer Woman. Currently, Fiero is a nurse practitioner and is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Age Has Led to Injury on the ‘Cobra Kai’ Set
Even though Macchio has avoided serious injury onset, not all of his co-stars have been so lucky, according to Entertainment Weekly. In an interview with Yuji Okumoto about reprising his role as Chozen for Cobra Kai, Okumoto revealed that he suffered a hamstring injury during a fight scene:
“I threw a kick and I pulled my hammy so bad. [Laughs] My first thought was, ‘Seriously???’
“I remember Ralph and the producers came over and they checked on me. And I was like, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine,’ but I wasn’t. I was basically a one-legged fighter at that point. They said, ‘Do you need to go to the ER?’ I said, ‘You’re going to have to drag me kicking and screaming off of this set before I will go get checked into an ER. I am staying, I am finishing this last fight scene.’
Okumoto was not the only castmember to suffer an injury on set. In an interview at the Paley Center for Media William Zabka said that he pulled his hamstring and broke his toe on set. He said “I pulled my hamstring, I broke my toe! I jammed my toe nobody even knew. It went completely in my foot. I had to hobble over to the side.”
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