Forever associated with his iconic Karate Kid character Daniel LaRusso, Ralph Macchio is all grown up and back in the dojo with YouTube Red’s new comedy series, Cobra Kai. Set 30 years after the memorable events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, the series follows Karate Kid antagonist Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), setting out to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo, and finding himself butting heads with LaRusso once again.
“It’s been a long time since Daniel LaRusso’s been up on the screen, and for a reason. We said no for a very long time. I’ve heard many, many pitches over the years, but our creators of Cobra Kai—Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald—were just very convincing, very passionate,” Macchio told Deadline today in Tribeca, of his decision to revisit a classic franchise. “They were superfans of The Karate Kid. I think The Karate Kid, to them, was Star Wars. They came in with the most original, fresh angle into the Karate Kid universe, and it just seemed like the right time.”
Appearing at Deadline’s Tribeca Studio this morning, Macchio explained where LaRusso has ended up all these years later. “Daniel LaRusso 30 years later is very successful. He’s become the Auto King of the San Fernando Valley, which may be by waxing all those cars back in the day. It paid off,” the actor joked. “He’s got a successful business, he’s got a very successful marriage and two great kids, but then again at 50-something years old, as Mr. Miyagi would say, ‘Not everything is as seem.’”
Continuing to act over the years—most recently appearing in high-profile series including The Deuce and Kevin Can Wait—Macchio will always embrace The Karate Kid‘s place in the pop culture canon and what the series did for his career.
“Those films, whether I look back at them or not, they follow me around everywhere I go, in a good way. Generations have embraced this movie. It’s become a slice of everyone’s childhood, so I feel that this is the fans’ show, just like I feel the film has become the fans’ movie,” he reflected. “What’s most exciting about the Cobra Kai series is that it pays homage to the legacy, it has the nostalgia sprinkled throughout, the callbacks to all the stuff the fans would want to see. It has a completely fresh, relevant angle into the next generation. I think combining those two is what was so exciting about moving forward.”
To view Deadline’s conversation with Macchio for yourself, click above.
The Deadline Studio at Tribeca is presented by Nespresso.