It’s been more than three decades since Ralph Macchio first warmed hearts as young Daniel LaRusso learning to defend himself in the Karate Kid trilogy. Now all grown up, the actor, 58 — who has reprised his role in Cobra Kai — exclusively opened up to Us Weekly about the moment he realized when the movie was going to be a hit, getting poison oak while filming the third installment and more. Read on to learn 25 things you might not have known about the former teen star.
1. I was a onetime All-Star second baseman in Little League Baseball — my team was the Mets.
2. I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen live at least 20 times over the years.
3. I’ve never met him to date, but I was a guest DJ on his radio station.
4. I was on the wrestling team in seventh grade — the B team — and went a stellar 1–9 in matches.
5. They had to invent a weight class for me, as I was under 68 pounds.
6. I didn’t pass my first road test due to a parallel parking technicality. However, I aced the retake!
7. My first job was working in my dad’s laundromat. I made $1 an hour.
8. I prefer red wine over white wine.
9. And espresso over drip coffee.
10. I have a double espresso macchiato or cortado almost every morning to jump-start my brain.
11. I’ve made trips to Napa Valley [in California] five times and counting.
12. I prefer early mornings over late nights.
13. I love to listen to classical movie scores and reimagine the moments and images.
14. When everyone on the street was doing the crane pose after a preview of The Karate Kid, I felt confident we might make another.
15. I took six lessons in self-defense when I was 10 years old — who knew?
16. My first date with my wife [Phyllis] was seeing Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York with Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli.
17. My parents have been married 61 years; my wife and I have been married for 33.
18. I visited Tanzania and Kenya in 1973 with my parents and brother.
19. I wrote and directed a short film [called] Love Thy Brother, based loosely on my own sibling rivalry. It premiered at Sundance.
20. I performed with Robert De Niro in the play Cuba and His Teddy Bear at Rikers Island for the inmates in 1986.
21. I attended every New York Mets home game during the ’86 playoffs and World Series.
22. I developed a nasty case of poison oak while shooting The Karate Kid Part III, and we had to halt production for over two weeks.
23. I wanted to play Johnny Cade in The Outsiders. [I had] no interest in another role — Johnny or bust!
24. In high school I was student choreographer for the class musicals, one of which was How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
25. Years later, I visited 38 United States cities while playing the lead character in the first national Broadway tour.
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