‘Cobra Kai’ star Ralph Macchio explains why he turned down Will Smith’s ‘Karate Kid’ remake: ‘Door was open’ | Fox News

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    Will Smith asked Ralph Macchio to be involved with his remake of “The Karate Kid” – but the actor who famously played Daniel LaRusso turned down the offer.

    The “Cobra Kai” star shared his account in a new memoir titled “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me,” which details his rise to stardom with the beloved film franchise. The book is out on Tuesday.

    “Listen, he didn’t offer like, ‘I’m gonna write you a big role in this remake,’” the 60-year-old explained to Fox News Digital. “He just said, ‘Any involvement you want, we could figure it out.’ He wanted me to feel comfortable with it going forward.’”

    It was 2008 when Macchio learned that a remake of the 1984 film was in the works with the Oscar winner serving as a producer. The 2010 movie starred Smith’s son Jaden Smith, as well as Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson. In his book, Macchio described how it was “a jarring moment” to learn that a new version was being developed without any of the original stars.

    From left: Ralph Macchio, Jada Pinkett and husband, actor Will Smith, arrive to premiere of Columbia Pictures’ The Karate Kid’ afterparty held at Mann Village Theatre on June 7, 2010, in Westwood, California.
    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    “I spent 20 years trying to prove I’m not a kid anymore, and then when I heard they were remaking my biggest movie, all of a sudden, I was like, ‘Hey, why are they rushing everything!’” Macchio wrote.

    Macchio said he was “caught off guard” when a reporter approached him on the street and asked how he felt about the announcement. Macchio replied that he “was hoping there would be more original content coming out of Hollywood soon.” Still, he “wished everyone good luck and success and thought it was cool to know the story still had great relevance.”

    But the following day, a headline read: “Macchio Slams Remake,” which led to a call from Smith 48 hours later. Macchio said he wanted to clear the air about “the sensationalized tabloid-like headline.” That’s when Smith offered to involve him “in any way I wanted and said that the door was open.”

    Ralph Macchio reflected on his life and Hollywood career in a new memoir titled ‘Waxing On.’
    (Courtesy of Ralph Macchio)

    “I just said, ‘You know what, I’m going to stand back, be a fan and see what you guys come up with,’” Macchio recalled. “I think the legacy stands on its own, and I didn’t have any great desire to fit a square peg in a round hole if you will. I just didn’t know enough about it and what they wanted to do for me to really participate. They reimagined it and made a film that turned out to be quite successful and fairly well-crafted. It did well, but only in my view, it enhanced the legacy of the original.”

    Ralph Macchio (right) gave encouraging words to Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith (center), who was starring in ‘The Karate Kid’ remake.
    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    Jaden, 24, who received encouraging words from Macchio, played a character who was younger than the original LaRusso.

    After starring in three “Karate Kid” films in the ‘80s, Macchio “basically said ‘No’ for 30 years” to ideas for more. He didn’t want to “taint the legacy with a short-sighted idea or cash grab.”

    He was also approached with many strange ideas for a sequel.

    “The one that gets talked about the most is when a couple of screenwriters pitched a ‘Rocky’ crossover,” he chuckled. “Daniel LaRusso and Rocky Balboa somehow knew each other, and each had kids with problems. And they would come together between Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey, and create a new fight system between Miyagi and Rocky’s trainer. That’s still the best one. But there were others, like Miyagi coming back as a ghost and being a guide, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. It’s a joy to think back at all of them, because now I look, and know I made the right choice by waiting for the ‘Cobra Kai’ concept.”

    Ralph Macchio (left, seen here with William Zabka) is proud he waited before taking on the wildly successful ‘Cobra Kai.’
    (Courtesy of Ralph Macchio)

    Macchio and “Karate Kid” co-star William Zabka reprised their roles in “Cobra Kai,” a series that debuted on YouTube Red in 2018 before moving to Netflix for its third season. It takes place 34 years after the first movie. The first season had more than 60 million views.

    “The Karate Kid” tells the tale of a martial arts master who mentors a bullied teen. The “Cobra Kai” creators changed Macchio’s mind about a half-hour series available for streaming. Longtime fans and curious viewers were hooked.

    Ralph Macchio starred in three ‘Karate Kid’ films.
    (Courtesy of Ralph Macchio)

    “[The secret sauce is] never losing sight of the human themes that are woven into the ‘Karate Kid’ DNA, which is a teen and a single mom moving to a new town where he tries to find his place and do what is right,” he explained to Fox News Digital. “And there are so many elements of those themes that are woven into the ‘Cobra Kai’ series. As much as the tone is different … it’s very much the same. And those little pearls of wisdom and human connection are what sustain ‘The Karate Kid’ from being just another summer popcorn movie. And that’s why it’s resonated for nearly four decades.… It’s really unique and special to still be able to share these stories [based on] those themes and characters.”

    But one star was noticeably missed.

    Ralph Macchio (right) and Pat Morita became fast friends during filming.
    (Courtesy of Ralph Macchio)

    Pat Morita, best known as the wise Mr. Miyagi, passed away in 2005 at age 73 from kidney failure. The stand-up comic, who originally made his mark on “Happy Days,” left a lasting impression on his co-star, who quickly became his friend off-screen.

    “I miss the phone messages or phone calls that I would get from him,” said Macchio. “He would always call me ‘Ralphie.’ He would say, ‘How you’ve been, Ralphie? I’ve been thinking about you and the magic we have.’ I knew we had success. I knew we had something special. It was just so effortless. But I think he saw how truly magical [this film] was before I did. And it puts a smile on my face when I think about those phone calls that I would get from him And how when the movie broke, the world embraced these two characters.”

    Ralph Macchio speaks during a memorial service for Pat Morita at the Palm Mortuary & Memorial Park on November 30, 2005, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Morita died at age 73.
    (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    “He really didn’t start in the entertainment business until he was around 30 years old,” Macchio reflected. “He tried his hand at stand-up, and he leaned into his Japanese-American heritage. He sort of leaned into what may be looked upon as stereotyping and typecasting and not PC, if you will, but he made a name for himself that way. He used to say that it was Redd Foxx who gave him his shot in Vegas.… He was Arnold on ‘Happy Days.’ He was on ‘M*A*S*H.’ There were reservations from everyone to have him as Miyagi before they saw him. ‘Arnold from ‘Happy Days?’ Are you crazy? That’s silly – it’s never going to work.’ I walked into the room to meet him, and within two seconds, less than two seconds, these characters came to life.”

    Ralph Macchio and his family attend the ‘Cobra Kai’ premiere at The Paley Center for Media on April 22, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California.
    (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Sony Pictures Television/YouTube Originals)

    Macchio acknowledged that he’s led a “normal” life in comparison to his peers who also skyrocketed to fame during the ‘80s. The star said he was never tempted by drugs or partying.

    “It’s a lesson there we could all use – a balanced diet, balanced relationships, a balanced life, you know?” he said. “I give some credit to my parents in grounding me … And part of it is my own sensibilities of just being someone who … never chose to take those big risks that might lead to a slippery slope. And any time I was not working in Los Angeles, I was following my teams in New York, like the New York Mets and the New York Islanders. So I would fly back to New York to go to the games … I think that and the foundation of my upbringing had something to do with how I avoided all of that.”

    Today, Macchio is eager for what the future holds for him – and he doesn’t mind the praise he’s been getting for his youthful looks along the way.

    Ralph Macchio said it’s easy to see why ‘The Karate Kid’ has stood the test of time.
    (Columbia Pictures)

    “It’s just another day at the office for me,” he laughed. “I’ve dealt with it from when I was in junior high school. I looked like I was in grade school in junior high … Now I’m just trying to sustain it. Now it’s more like, ‘How long could I sustain this young boyish thing?’ I’m working on it. These are the cards I was dealt. And I guess it’s a pretty good hand. I’ll blame my parents and grandparents who always looked young for their age. And the fact that I’m associated with a character that’s a kid – I can’t get away.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at

    This content was originally published here.

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