Ralph Macchio’s ‘Karate Kid’ character Daniel LaRusso has made a big comeback in ‘Cobra Kai.’ HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Ralph about working with the young cast members and a possible return in season 3.
Cobra Kai first debuted on YouTube in 2018 and became an instant hit. The second season of The Karate Kid sequel series premiered in April 2019 and the show has since been renewed for season 3, which is slated to premiere in 2020. Ralph Macchio has reprised his iconic role of Daniel LaRusso in the series, which takes place 35 years after the events of The Karate Kid. Cobra Kai features a number of young cast members who are learning from both Daniel and William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence. In season 2, Daniel opens the Miyagi-do dojo, which threatens Johnny’s Cobra Kai dojo. The Cobra Kai cast features a stellar group of young actors and working alongside them has been such a great experience for Ralph.
“One of the things I didn’t expect, and it is one of my favorite things, is how much I enjoy working with the young cast,” Ralph told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “I liked handing down some of my own wisdom. Be it my chance to put my own Miyagi [Daniel’s mentor in The Karate Kid] shoes, not only as LaRusso but also as Ralph, as an actor that has been doing this and has been in this business for 40 years, and to shed some positive light in their young careers going forward. Maybe I can make a difference in a good way, passing on the legacy of it all. It is very Miyagi mirroring and I didn’t expect that because one of the things I really enjoy is that these young actors we have are so dedicated to the project. They don’t take it for granted and there is no sense of entitlement which we find everywhere we look in that generation. These actors really feel they are blessed with this opportunity. They are not taking it for granted. So that has been a joy and watching them do the fight scenes is a joy so I get to rest! Billy and I talk about it, man, and everything hurts! It’s a lot more stretching in 2019 then there was in 1983 and 1984.”
HollywoodLife asked Ralph about whether or not he’d like to see the Karate Kid franchise come back in a different way down the road and how long he sees Cobra Kai continuing. “Karate Kid has been a piece of cinema and American cinema and American pop culture now for a third of a century or even longer than that, which is insane but it is true,” Ralph continued. “Cobra Kai, when you see these fan theories and passion, it’s one of the cool things about being on YouTube, you have a show you can watch in real time and people are reacting to. You see the kind of dedication and fan base and how it is building that it seems like this is another chapter in pop culture through this Karate Kid universe, so who knows how long it could go on. We have to continue to strive to be organic and tell stories that are relevant for today and yet still tie into the nostalgia and find a way to balance all of that going forward. As you create new characters and you create new stories, and one thing Cobra Kai does very well and I will credit our creators, the brain trust behind this concept is that they dive into the gray areas of every character whereas Karate Kid was very black and white. That film was good over evil. Miyagi and Daniel good, Kreese and Johnny Lawrence bad. Cobra Kai bad, Miyagi good. In Cobra Kai, those lines blur from episode to episode. Your allegiance can change despite the fact that these characters have good intentions, sometimes they have flawed qualities and demons they have to struggle with and that is going to help us with longevity.”
The ending of season 2 teased the possible return of Ali Mills, played by Elisabeth Shue. In the final moments of the finale, Johnny got a friend request from Ali, his high school love who fell in love with Daniel in The Karate Kid. “Listen, that is at the point where we can’t confirm or deny when that is going to happen,” Daniel said. “They would be foolish not to say that it isn’t something that is used as a catalyst for the first argument that these two characters had and that we wouldn’t pursue at some point. At what level that is, we have no idea. I know there are talks and I have early broad strokes of what season 3 is and I can’t say any of it.”
Ralph and William also teamed up for an epic Enterprise commercial, which was a blast for Ralph. “Well it seemed like it was something that was smart,” Ralph said. “Very often after doing this for 40 years time you work on these projects and sometimes people want to do something where the studio wants to figure out cross-promotion and connections and they so often feel like square pegs in a round hole. It is blatantly something you see that it just becomes business! And you see the business instead of the intelligence. In this case, it was a great marriage and a smooth transition because of the whole LaRusso Auto group scenario and that we have dealership there. Very often you will see a kiosk or rental car area if you have to bring your car in or it has to be serviced or whatever then you can rent the car right there. They kind of place that in episode 5 of season 2 where Enterprise was a tie-in to LaRusso Auto Group. I have been renting cars from Enterprise for every time we go to LA and always get my cars from Enterprise so I told them that and Zabka as well. I think they did a pretty nice job of laying that all out. At the end of the day, it’s all good fun. It’s organic to the show but it is also not trying to be a scene from the show because it works in reality.”