Ralph Macchio was the perfect choice for the role of Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid, but he was actually up against some tough competition. Find out the big-name actors who were considered for the role and how he beat Robert Downey Jr. out for The Karate Kid and another iconic movie role.
Ralph Macchio was up for the same roles as Robert Downey Jr.
During a Jan. 5 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Macchio discussed some rumors and fan theories about the hit 1984 movie. It turns out that Macchio had some big competition for The Karate Kid role.
“Everyone knows you as Daniel LaRusso but is it true other people were considered for the role too?,” Fallon asked him.
Macchio confirmed that, while he was cast early, it wasn’t a done deal and there were some other contenders considered.
“I was cast very early but it was one of those test deals where you’re not in yet,” he recalled. “And I remember walking by and seeing Charlie Sheen hanging outside [producer] Jerry Weintraub’s bungalow thinking ‘What’s Charlie doing here? … You don’t look like an Italian guy from Jersey.’”
Nicolas Cage was another actor who was considered, as well as Robert Downey Jr. Not only did Macchio nab The Karate Kid role, but he also got another part Downey Jr. was being considered for.
“Robert Downey Jr. also did the workshop of my part I did in The Outsiders, so I was doing pretty good with Downey Jr. at that point,” he explained. Macchio noted how Downey Jr.’s career took off in a huge way as he went on to star in many famous roles, such as playing Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
‘The Karate Kid’ might have had a very different title
Fallon also asked Macchio if it was true that he didn’t like the title of The Karate Kid and he confirmed why he wasn’t a fan of it.
“I thought — and I was not the only one — thought it was kind of a hokey, kind of cheesy title for a movie being directed by the guy who made Rocky and all this stuff,” Macchio shared.
He continued, “Maybe it was foreshadowing. I may have thought if I ever got the part I’d have to carry the damn thing for the rest of my life.”
While Macchio didn’t have any better ideas for the film’s title, he did share how director John G. Avildsen wanted to call the movie East Meets West in West.
Thankfully, they didn’t go with that confusing title. The film did have a different title internationally, however — for a good reason. “I think it was called The Moment of Truth in many countries when karate had a negative connotation in certain territories,” Macchio explained to Fallon.
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