August 26, 2020
He crane-kicked his way into movie history as Daniel LaRusso in the 80s film, but chose to put family before fame. Now he’s back in his most famous role in a comedy sequel
In the past 36 years, there has been, Ralph Macchio says, just one day, maybe, when someone hasn’t mentioned The Karate Kid to him. “It might have been a day when I was sick and stayed in my room all day. But, yeah, it is pretty often,” Macchio tells me on the phone from his home on Long Island, sounding every inch the cheerful suburban dad he has been for the past three decades. “It’s a rare sporting event I go to when I don’t hear [the Joe Esposito song] You’re the Best Around. And if I’m in a Japanese restaurant and a fly is in the building, I have about nine seconds to get out,” he says, referring, of course, to the legendary Karate Kid scene in which Daniel (Macchio) catches a fly with chopsticks.
It is hard to convey just how stratospherically famous Macchio, now 58, became when The Karate Kid – in which he played plucky lower middle-class teen Daniel LaRusso, crane-kicking the snotty rich kids – came out in 1984. Back in the 80s, a young person could become a huge star with just one movie and, to a large extent, those movies still define those actors: Tom Cruise had Risky Business, Matthew Broderick had Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Michael J Fox had Back to the Future and Macchio had The Karate Kid.