Ralph Macchio talks about how he feels about Daniel LaRusso’s life as an adult and admits that’s not the story he would have written for the character.
Ralph Macchio, who plays Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid films and the Cobra Kai series, was unconvinced of Daniel’s fate as an adult. The actor first played the role of Daniel in the 1984 film The Karate Kid. In this film, the bullied teenager found solace in the relationship he was building with his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). , who taught him karate to defend himself against his executioners, in particular Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). In subsequent films, Daniel faced new enemies with the help of his beloved mentor and ultimately always kept balance and discipline at the heart of his karate practice (even if he sometimes lost sight of these pillars).
In Cobra Kai, which began as a YouTube Red series in 2018, Zabka and Macchio reprise their roles thirty years later. In the sequel, Daniel has become a family man and the owner of a successful car dealership with karate-themed commercials, while Johnny leads a miserable life and is estranged from his son. The events of the movie Karate Kid shaped the trajectory of both characters’ lives. Johnny feels like a failure after losing a key final fight to Daniel, while the latter literally makes money with his famous tournament-winning kick.
When discussing his iconic roles in a video for GQ, Macchio admitted Daniel’s life in Cobra Kai isn’t a future he would have envisioned for the character. He acknowledges that the writers created an emotional journey for Daniel on the show, but argues that Daniel’s character seemed modeled around Johnny’s character more than anything else. Watch his full quote below:
“LaRusso’s place in the world wasn’t necessarily where I would have written. One might get the impression that the initial concept is: “This is Johnny Lawrence, how can we make his life as miserable as possible? What could we do that LaRusso is doing that would make things worse for him?”. Fortunately, the series expands to change that.”
Macchio’s comments echo the thoughts of some fans when Cobra Kai first aired, disappointed with the ’80s hero’s portrayal as an arrogant and seemingly materialistic man. However, as Macchio mentions later in the video, this is only the starting point before embarking on a spiritual journey to regain balance. Ultimately, Daniel’s story is realistic and reminds us that people change, especially three decades later. While Macchio found Daniel’s story unrealistic when he started the series due to the influence of his mother and mentor, it’s true that Cobra Kai was originally conceived and marketed as the story of Johnny rather than Daniel’s. Therefore, Macchio’s words about Daniel’s story seeming more driven by what would be worse for Johnny than what was genuine for Daniel make sense.
Regardless of where he started, Daniel’s trajectory over the last 5 seasons of Cobra Kai has seen him reconnect with his past and pay homage to it to become a man Mr. Miyagi would have been proud to know. By passing on Mr. Miyagi’s teachings to his children, as well as other members of Miyagi-Do, he can ensure that the next generation of “Karate Kids” have the potential to be even better than him. Cobra Kai season 5 recently premiered on Netflix, and with some scenes from season 6 already filmed, the future looks bright for the series.