MetroFocus: November 1, 2022

L.I.’S RALPH MACCHIO SHARES THE LIFE LESSONS HE LEARNED FROM “THE KARATE KID”

It’s been nearly four decades since “The Karate Kid” hit the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon. And now with the Netflix reboot series “Cobra Kai” a whole new generation of fans are learning that lessons taught in the dojo can help us navigate life. Tonight, the karate kid himself, Long Island’s own, Ralph Macchio discusses his new book, “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me.”

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, THE KARATE KID HIMSELF, LONG ISLAND'S OWN RALPH MACCHIO IS WAXING ON AS 'METROFOCUS' START RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

WHEN 'KARATE KID' FIRST HIT MOVIE THEATERS IN 1984, NO ONE COULD GUESS THE HUGE IMPACT THE FILM WOULD HAVE ON POPULAR CULTURE.

THEM WAS A MEGA HIT AND INSTANT CLASSIC SPAWNING SEQUELS, CATCH PHRASES AND INDELIBLE MOMENTS THAT ENDURE TO THIS DAY.

AT THE HEART OF THE MOVIE WAS THE UNDERDOG STORY OF THE KARATE KID HIMSELF, DANIEL LaRUSSO PLAYED BY RALPH MACCHIO AND HIS UNFORGETTABLE RELATIONSHIP WITH MR. MIYAGI, A CHARACTER IMMORTALIZED BY PAT MORITA.

'KARATE KID' FRANCHISE LIVESEN IN 'COBRA KAI' WITH MACCHIO CARRYING ON HIS ROLE AS THE NOW DECIDEDLY MIDDLE-AGED LaRUSSO.

HE HAS A NEW BOOK CALLED W'WAXIG ON: THE KARATE KID AND ME' AND HE JOINS ME NOW.

GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE.

I LOVE THE INTRO.

BEAUTIFUL.

THANKS.

YOU STARTED THE BOOK BY TELL THE STORY OF THE FIRST TIME YOU SAW 'KARATE KID' WITH A REGULAR AUDIENCE, AND IT HAPPENED RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, OF COURSE BACK IN 1984.

TELL US, WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?

IT WAS -- YEAH, IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER SEEN THE FILM IN ITS ENTIRETY.

WASN'T LIKE I HAD SEEN IT A FEW TIMES AND WENT TO A PUBLIC AUDIENCE.

IT WAS A SNEAK PREVIEW IN MAY OF '84, AND IT WAS -- IT WAS THE PERFECT INTRODUCTORY STORY TO THIS BOOK, HOW I WALKED IN THE THEATER AND SAT IN THE BACK ROW WITH THE FILMMAKER AND MY WIFE OF 34 YEARS, PHYLLIS.

WE WERE DATING AT THE TIME.

AND WATCHED THIS STORY UNFOLD AND THIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE AUDIENCE HAPPENED RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES.

TALKED ABOUT AT LIKE I WAS IN THE LAST ROW OF A ROLLER COASTER.

WHIPLASH MOVING WITH EACH AND EVERY MOMENT.

THE AUDIENCE JUST FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS STORY AND THIS KID AND THE CONCEPT THAT THIS KID WAS PLAYED BY ME WAS THIS OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE.

IT WAS LIKE BEING IN A MAJOR LEAGUE SPORTING EVENT.

I MEAN, THEY LAUGHED WITH HIM, CRIED WITH HIM, THEY CHEERED FOR HIM.

THEY ROOTED FOR HIM.

AND IN THE END, I LEFT THIS THEATER 126 MINUTES LATER A CHANGED PERSON.

AS I KIND OF SLIPPED IN UNKNOWN AND HEADED OUT LIKE I DESCRIBED AS, LIKE, THE BEATLES LEAVING SHEA STADIUM.

DID YOU KNOW AT THAT MOMENT THAT THE LIFE OF THE REGULAR LONG ISLAND KID WOULD BE CHANGED FOREVER?

NOT FOREVER.

I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL.

IT WAS AN EVENING I WOULD NEVER FORGET.

NEVER, EVER IMAGINING THE LONGEVITY AND HOW -- THE PLACE IN POP CULTURE, CINEMA, AROUND THE WORLD, THE GLOBAL IMPACT AND ESPECIALLY TODAY WITH 'COBRA KAI' MAKING THAT RELEVANCE SO CONTEMPORARY.

THAT'S WHAT I TALK ABOUT IN THE BOOK, BEING EQUAL PARTS NOSTALGIA AND CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE.

IT'S UNIQUE TO HAVE THAT, TELLING THE STORY OF THE MAKING OF, HOW THE MAGIC HAPPENED, HOW IT AFFECTED MY LIFE OVER THE DECADES AND WHERE IT SITS IN POPULAR CULTURE.

IT'S QUITE MAGICAL.

WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO ALL THAT, ESPECIALLY 'COBRA KAI' WHICH I THINK IS JUST A SPECIAL SERIES.

BUT GOING BACK TO THE STORY, NOT TOO LONG BEFORE 'KARATE KID,' YOU HAD A BIG PART IN A BIG MOVIE IN FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S 'THE OUTSIDERS.'

NOT TOO SHABBY.

PRETTY GOOD.

DID THE PRODUCERS OF 'KARATE KID' CALL YOU UP AND BEG YOU TO BE DANIEL?

THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE.

IT DID HAPPEN -- I GOT THE CALL THEY WERE AUDITIONING, JOHN AVILDSEN.

I READ THAT BOOK WHEN I WAS 12 YEARS OLD.

HAD JUST A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON A 12-YEAR-OLD AT THE TIME, SO HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE MOVIE AND PLAY WHAT IS ARGUABLY ONE OF THE BETTER PARTS IN JOHNNY CADE, GET TO SAY STAY GOLD, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE I HEAR EVERY DAY ON THE STREET, WONDERFUL TO BE CONNECTED TO A FILM LIKE THAT.

I THINK THAT PROBABLY GOT ME IN THE DOOR WHEN THEY WERE CASTING DANIEL LaRUSSO.

I WENT IN, I READ FOR THE PART.

THAT ACTUALLY VIDEO CLIP IS ON YOUTUBE OF ME READING WITH THE GREAT DIRECTOR JOHN AVILDSEN, WHO DIRECTED 'ROCKY' AND 'KARATE KID.'

THAT FOOTAGE IS ME READING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME.

YOU CAN FIND IT, AND IT'S INTERCUT WITH PAT MORITA'S AUDITION, FIRST TIME.

IT'S INTERESTING YOU SEE THE BIRTH OF THE CHARACTERS FROM THE FIRST MOMENT.

WE READ IT SEPARATELY.

I HAD A GOOD HUNCH AFTER THE AUDITION.

I WRITE ABOUT THIS IN THE BOOK, BECAUSE AVILDSEN SAID, I CAN'T GUARANTEE YOU ANYTHING, BUT MAYBE YOU SHOULD TAKE KARATE LESSONS.

WHICH, THAT'S A PRETTY GOOD FIRST DATE, YOU KNOW.

BUT IT TOOK A BUNCH OF HOOPS.

YEAH, YEAH, THEY MADE YOU JUMP THROUGH A FEW HOOPS.

MADE ME JUMP THROUGH A COUPLE HOOPS, AND AT THE END OF IT I WAS AWARDED A ROLE THAT CHANGED MY LIFE AND WAS A BIG INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD.

IT'S REALLY QUITE INCREDIBLE.

TO THE POINT, YOU GOT THE POINT TO THE PART WHERE THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER WASN'T CALLED DANIEL LaRUSSO.

IT WAS CALLED DANIEL WEBER, AND THEY CHANGED IT TO LaRUSSO TO FIT YOU, FIT WHO RALPH MACCHIO WAS.

THE QUESTION IS, HOW MUCH OF DANIEL LaRUSSO IS RALPH MACCHIO?

AND HOW DIFFERENT ARE THE TWO?

YEAH, THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

I TALK ABOUT THE BLURRED LINES OF MACCHIO AND LaRUSSO.

PEOPLE COME UP TO ME, THINK I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, AND MY MOM DROVE A RED STATION WAGON.

LIKE, THAT'S KIND OF NOT IT BUT I GET IT.

THE BIGGEST -- THERE'S A SIMILARITY, BECAUSE I TRIED TO BRING A NATURALNESS TO THE CHARACTER AND SORT OF UNDERSTANDING WHAT HE WAS DOING THROUGH.

I ADDED A LITTLE EAST COAST BRAVADO TO HIM, WHICH I HAVE ANY WAY.

I HAVE NOTHING TO BACK IT UP, BUT I HAVE IT.

I AMP THAT UP A LITTLE BIT.

AND THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LaRUSSO AND MACCHIO, AND I SAID THIS, WRITE THIS, MACCHIO, IF HE GOT HIS BUTT KICKED BY FIVE GANG MEMBERS ON MOTORCYCLES I WOULD HAVE LEFT WELL ENOUGH ALONE.

LaRUSSO GETS RIGHT BACK IN THERE AND DOESN'T TAKE NO.

HE PUSHES.

HE'S A LITTLE MORE TEMPER FLARING KNEE JERK ACT NOW.

WHERE I THINK FIRST, PREPARING BEFORE GETTING MYSELF IN TROUBLE, BUT IT'S A MUCH BETTER MOVIE ARE LaRUSSO.

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT, OBVIOUSLY, TO IMAGINE 'KARATE KID' WITHOUT RALPH MACCHIO IN THE LEAD ROLE, AND OF COURSE IT'S EQUALLY DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE IT WITHOUT PAT MORITA PLAYING MR. MIYAGI, FOR WHICH AN ULTIMATELY WON AN OSCAR.

AT THE TIME THE HOLLYWOOD SUITS DIDN'T SEE IT THAT WAY.

AS YOU WRITE, NONE OF THEM WANTED HIM IN THE FILM.

THAT'S THE WAY I REMEMBER IT.

THERE WAS GREAT RESISTANCE FROM THE PRODUCER, THE GREAT JERRY WINETRAUB.

HE REMEMBERED PAT MORITA AS THE GREAT CATSKILLS COMIC.

HE CAME UP AS A COMIC BEFORE 'M.A.S.H.' AND HAPPY DAYS.

THAT WAS IN MY HEAD AND THAT WASN'T WHAT WAS ON THE PAGE.

I SAY IT'S PRETTY IRONIC FOR ME TO MAKE THESE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT PAT MORITA BACK IN THE DAY, WHERE I WAS TYPECASTING HIM OF WHAT I THOUGHT HE WAS UNTIL I WALKED IN THE ROOM, MET HIM, AND IT WAS JUST INSTANT MAGIC.

BUT IT'S KIND OF FORESHADOWING AS I HAD TO DEAL WITH MY OWN LEVEL OF TYPECASTING.

THE STUDIO AND DIRECTOR AND CASTING DIRECTOR CAROL JONES WAS THE ONE WHO SAID, WHAT ABOUT PAT MORITA?

HE CAME AND READ.

LOOK AT THIS.

THEY BASICALLY FORCE FED IT.

AS SOON AS THEY GOT US IN THE ROOM TOGETHER, IT WAS THIS -- I CALL IT UNCONDITIONAL LOVE THAT IT WAS A GIVE AND TAKE.

IT WAS A NATURAL CADENCE AND TANGO WE HAD.

-IN AND YANG IF YOU WILL, AND IT WAS EFFORTLESS.

YOU KNEW THAT RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

YOU KNEW THAT CHEMISTRY?

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

I THINK PAT AND JOHN AVILDSEN KNEW THE SPECIALTY OF WHAT IT WAS -- IF SPECIALTY IS A WORD.

I JUST KNEW TOUCHDOWNS EASY.

IT WAS YEARS LATER I SAID, MAKES SENSE, IT WAS SO EASY, SO THAT'S WHY IT WAS SO NATURAL.

YOU KNOW, YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG.

I HAD TO CATCH UP TO IT IN MY WISDOM.

I HAD THIS QUOTE I GOT FROM YOUR BOOK.

THE WRITER AND CREATOR OF 'KARATE KID' SAID, YOU AND PAT MORITA ARE ONE OF THE MOST REVERED SCREEN PARTNERSHIPS IN AMERICAN CINEMA, AND I THINK MOST OF OUR VIEWER WOULD AGREE WITH THAT.

THAT'S WHAT WE SEE ON THE SCREEN.

TELL US WHAT THE RELATIONSHIP WAS AWAY FROM THE SCREEN, AWAY FROM THE CAMERA.

HE WAS A COMIC.

HAD A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR.

I ALWAYS MARVELLED HE COULD BRING HIMSELF TO TEARS IN AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT AND WE'D CUT AND HE'D BE DOING FART JOKES AND ANYTHING TO CRACK ME UP.

HE TOOK GREAT PRIDE IN MAKING ME LAUGH.

WHEN I'M DOING WHAT I'M DOING I HAVE TO BE QUIET AND FOCUS, AND HE'D RIP IN AND OUT OF IT.

WE'D -- YOU KNOW, I WRITE ABOUT THE TIMES WE WENT TO HAVE JAPANESE FOOD AND I'D ALWAYS BE ONLY ORDERING THE COOKED STUFF, AND HE'D SLOWLY BUT SURELY GET ME TO VENTURE OUT.

NOW THAT'S TRANSFERRED OVER WHERE I'M A LITTLE MORE ADVENTUROUS IN SUSHI ORDERING.

IN 'COBRA KAI' YOU'RE PUSHING THE SUSHI ON EVERYONE ELSE.

RIGHT.

YEAH, IT WAS A SPECIAL BOND WE HAD.

YOU ALSO WRITE ABOUT THE DRUNK MIYAGI SCENE, WHAT PAT CAME TO CALL THE OSCAR SCENE, WHICH OF COURSE IS THE ONE WHERE IT'S REVEALED TO YOU, DANIEL AND TO THE AUDIENCE, THAT HE HAD BEEN IN A JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMP, THAT HIS WIFE AND KID DIED THERE.

IT WAS AN INCREDIBLY POWERFUL SCENE.

BUT ONCE AGAIN, THE HOLLYWOOD SUITS DECIDED NO, THEY WANTED IT OUT AND THEY WANTED IT OUT BECAUSE WHY?

THAT'S A GREAT -- IT'S SO INTERESTING TO ME WHEN I THINK BACK ABOUT THAT.

THEY WANTED IT OUT.

THE MOVIE WAS OVER TWO HOURS LONG, SO I THINK IN THE MINDS FROM THE BUSINESS SIDE IS YOU WANT A MOVIE TO BE AN HOUR AND 40 MINUTES SO YOU COULD FLIP SCREENING TIMES EVERY TWO HOURS.

MORE SCREENING TIMES, MORE MONEY IN THE BANK.

AND IT ALSO -- ROBERT CAME AND WOULD SAY, THE TRUTH IS, IT DID STOP THE STORY.

THE STORY COUSIN ITS WAY TO THE CLIMAX, LEADING TO THE TOURNAMENT.

YOU HAD EVERYTHING SET UP, AND YOU STOP AND HAVE THIS LONG DRAMATIC SCENE.

WHEN YOU WRITE IN PAINT BY NUMBERS THAT MIGHT BE SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD SAY, WHY ARE WE STOPPING THIS MOVIE.

BUT IT WAS BACK STORY.

IT WAS DEPTH.

IT WAS DEPTH OF CHARACTER.

IT ADDED MORE WEIGHT TO THE CLIMAX, BECAUSE HE WAS NOT ONLY FIGHTING FOR HIMSELF, THIS WAS FOR HIS MENTOR, AND HE SORT OF TAKES THE BATON AND GOES OUT AND TRAINS HIMSELF BASED ON THAT SPO EXPERIENCE.

SO I THINK ONCE THEY STARTED TEST SCREENING IT --

WE'LL GET TO THIS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT 'COBRA KAI,' BUT THIS IS ONE THING YOU DO IN 'COBRA KAI' ALL THE TIME -- YOU PUT IN THE BACK STORY, THE LAYERS.

WE'LL GET TO THAT IN A SECOND.

BUT YOU WRITE ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE LINE OR FAVORITE MOMENT IN THE FILM.

TELL OUR VIEWERS WHAT IT IS.

I GET ASKED ALL THE TIME, WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT FROM THE ORIGINAL 'KARATE KID'? IT'S NOT THE MOST SPLASHY.

IT'S NOT THE MOST, YOU KNOW, UNIQUE, BUT IT IS SIMPLY SAID, IT'S THE MOMENT WHERE DANIEL TURNS TO MIYAGI AFTER HE GIFTS HIM THE '47 FORD CONVERTIBLE AND HAS NOTHING TO SAY BUT, YOU'RE THE BEST FRIEND I'VE EVER HAD.

AND IT WAS ONE OF THE PUREST DELIVERIES OF A LINE I'VE GIVEN TO DATE.

AND HIS RESPONSE WHEN HE SAYS, YOU PRETTY OKAY, TOO, THAT JUST SOLIDIFIED, 'KARATE KID,' FOR ALL ITS SUMMER MOVIE, POPCORN MOVIE ELEMENTS, IT HAS THOSE GROUNDED HUMAN MOMENTS, AND I THINK THAT'S WHY IT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME.

SURE, THERE'S THE GET HIM A BODY BAG AND SWEEP IN THE LEG AND CATCHING FLIES WITH CHOPSTICKS, BUT THERE'S ALSO THAT HUMAN CONNECTION THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR AN ADOLESCENT GOING THROUGH A TIME.

'COBRA KAI,' LOOK YOU SAID, THE GUY WHO IS WRITE THAT SHOW STILL TAP INTO ALL THOSE GROUNDED THEMES AMID THE SILLINESS OF KARATE IN THE VALLEY BEING THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD.

I PROMISE, WE'LL GET TO THAT, BECAUSE I WANT TO TALK ABOUT 'COBRA KAI' BECAUSE SUCH AN EXCELLENT SERIES.

YOU MENTIONED THIS ALREADY IN THE INTERVIEW AND WRITE ABOUT IT HOW YOU -- YOU WRITE THAT , QUOTE, YOU SPENT A LOT OF YEARS AS A SCARCELY EMPLOYED ACTOR, MOST OF THE '90s.

TO WHAT DEGREE DO YOU CONTRIBUTE THAT TO THE TYPECASTING OF THE RALPH MACCHIO AS THE KARATE KID?

I THINK IT'S MULTIFACTORS.

THAT'S ONE THING.

I WOULD HEAR THAT.

YOU DON'T WANT HIM, HE'S THE KARATE KID.

YOU GET THAT.

THE FACT THAT I AGED SLOWLY -- I STILL HAVE A YOUTHFULNESS ABOUT ME, IT WASN'T THAT YOU WAKE UP AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT AN ACTOR YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE AND ALL OF A SUDDEN HE'S A LEADING MAN.

SO THAT TRANSITION FOR ME PHYSICALLY WASN'T HELPING THAT PART OF IT.

AND YOU KNOW, SO I THINK IT'S A COUPLE OF THINGS.

AND ALSO THE SENSIBILITIES OF WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS WERE BEING MADE IN THE LATE -- ONCE I GOT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF 'MY COUSIN VINNY,' SO MID '90s AND LATE '90s AND EARLY 2000s IS WHEN I FOCUS ON WRITING AND A LITTLE BIT OF FILMMAKING, SHORT FILMS.

I KEPT MYSELF CREATIVE AND DOING THEATER.

I STILL ACT ON TELEVISION, BUT NOTHING BROKE THROUGH.

BUT THAT'S, YOU KNOW -- CAN'T PUT TOO MUCH WEIGHT IN IT, MAN.

YOU DO WRITE AT ONE POINT YOU WERE LOOKING TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM DANIEL LaRUSSO.

FOR SURE.

DID YOU EVER GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU REGRETTED HAVING ACCEPTED THE ROLE OF DANIEL LaRUSSO?

OF HAVING PUT YOURSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU WERE TYPECAST?

THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A DAY HERE OR THERE WHERE I JUST SAID, THIS IS MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT OF OTHER THINGS I WANT TO DO.

THERE WAS NEVER A TIME WHERE I'D GO, I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT.

THAT I WISH I NEVER DID THAT.

THAT WOULD JUST BE FOOLISH.

CERTAINLY AS I GOT OLDER AND STARTED SEEING THE IMPACT OF KIDS AND ADULTS AND WHAT THAT CHARACTER MEANT AND WHAT THAT MOVIE MEANT EMOTIONALLY HOW IT CONNECTED WITH SO MANY PEOPLE, THE MORE THAT HAPPENED AS I GOT OLDER, THE MORE I STARTED TO EMBRACE THAT I AM THE CHOSEN ONE.

I'M THE KID WHO GOT THE PART.

EVEN THOUGH I WASN'T A KID AT THE TIME.

BUT YOU KNOW, SO I -- THERE WERE CERTAIN TIMES WHERE IT FELT FRUSTRATING.

BUT NEVER, I WISH I NEVER DID THAT MOVIE.

THAT'S INSANE.

I NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY ACTORS SAY THEY DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

BUT IT'S VERY SPECIFIC TO DANIEL LaRUSSO BECAUSE HE'S SUCH A WHW HEROIC INSPIRATIONAL CHARACTER.

YOU HAVE BEEN PROTECTIVE OF 'KARATE KID'S' -- NEVER TARNISHED BY SPINOFFS OR SEQUELS.

AND IN THE BOOK YOU TALK ABOUT ONE PARTICULAR -- AND YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF THOSE.

IN THE BOOK YOU TALK ABOUT ONE PARTICULARLY RIDICULOUS PITCH YOU GOT.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD SHARE THAT WITH US.

YEAH, WE JUST -- YEAH.

THERE ARE A BUNCH OF THEM OVER THE YEARS.

I ALWAYS SAID NO.

I WAS PROTECTIVE OF THE CHARACTER AND THE FILM ITSELF.

BUT YEAH, SOMEONE -- A COUPLE WRITERS PITCHED TO JOHN AVILDSEN AND I A SORT OF 'ROCKY' 'KARATE KID' CROSSOVER.

LaRUSSO HAD A KID, HE WAS MESSED UP, ROCKY HAD A KID, AND HE WAS MESSED UP, AND THEY -- THEY'D MAKE THAT MOVIE IN A SECOND NOW.

WE COULD GET BATMAN AND WONDER WOMAN AND OBI-WAN AND THEY HAVE LUNCH.

AND IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT.

BUT JOHN -- WE JUST LAUGHED IT OFF.

AND IT WAS INTERESTING, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AROUND THAT TABLE, SOME OF THEM WERE STUDIO EXECUTIVES, AND THEY WERE LEANING IN.

YOU COULD SEE THEM WISHING IT TO MAKE SENSE.

THAT WAS KIND OF FUN.

NOT ALL THE STORIES THAT YOU WERE TOLD WERE AS RIDICULOUS, BUT YOU TURNED THEM ALL DOWN EXCEPT UNTIL 'COBRA KAI' CAME AROUND.

YEAH.

WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE WITH 'COBRA KAI'? YOU ENTHUSIASTICALLY GAVE IT THE THUMBS UP.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THAT?

FIRST OFF, THE THREE GUY WHO IS WRITE THE SHOW KNOW MORE ABOUT THE ORIGINAL 'KARATE KID' FILMS.

THEY KNOW EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY, CARE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.

THEY HAD A FUN ANGLE IN.

'CREED' CAME OUT, AND I SAW HOW YOU COULD GET BACK INTO THE ROCKY WORLD, SO ANGLE IN FROM THE JOHNNY LAWRENCE PERSPECTIVE WAS INTERESTING.

THEY HAD WRITTEN A LOT OF YOUNGER STORIES, TEEN STORIES AND COLLEGE AGE STORIES, AND I FELT THAT THE NEXT GENERATION PART WOULD BE REALLY IMPORTANT AS OPPOSED TO JUST BEING THE ONE-OFF IDEA AND TALK ABOUT TWO GUYS IN THEIR 50s WHICH STILL WANT TO FIGHT, WHICH STILL IS THE TENT POLE OF THE SHOW, BUT YOU NEED MORE THAN THAT.

AND THE STREAMING SERVICES, 10, 15 YEARS AGO YOU'D HAVE TO MAKE A BIG TWO AND A HALF HOUR BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE, AND NOW YOU COULD TELL A STORY OVER FIVE HOURS INTO TEN HALF-HOUR PARTS AND LET THE CHARACTERS BREATHE AND DIVE INTO THE GRAY AREAS.

ALL OF A SUDDEN IT BECAME ANOTHER ANGLE OF EXPLORATION TO CONTINUE THIS, BUT -- BUT I STILL DIDN'T KNOW THE TEMPERATURE OF THE POOL WATER WHEN I WAS JUMPING IN, AND I HAD NO IDEA IT WOULD BE THIS --

WELL, IT'S -- I KEEP SAYING IT BECAUSE IT'S TRUE, IT'S JUST A WONDERFUL SERIES.

AND THE THING ABOUT IT THAT MAKES IT SO UNIQUE OR THAT MAKES IT STAND OUT AND MAKES IT DIFFERENT THAN 'KARATE KID' IS PRECISELY WHAT YOU JUST SAID.

WE HAVE FIVE MINUTES LEFT, SO I WANT TO GET TO IT.

IT'S THE FACT THAT YOU DELVE INTO THE GRAYS NOT JUST OF THE TWO MAIN CHARACTER S, BUT THE GENERATION OF YOUNG NEW CHARACTERS.

YOU DELVE INTO THEIR GRAY AREAS.

IN 'COBRA KAI' THERE ARE NO COMPLETE HEROS AND NO COMPLETE VILLAINS.

EVEN THE DIABOLICAL ORIGINAL SENSEI HAS A BACK STORY THAT UNDERSTANDS WHY HE IS HOW HE IS AND MAKES YOU FEEL COMPASSION.

IT'S THAT COMPLEX, THAT LAYERED.

I GUESS THAT WASN'T AN ACCIDENT.

NO, THAT'S ALL BY DESIGN.

THAT'S THE RWRITERS' DESIGN.

PART OF THE ORIGINAL PITCH, AND MY PITCH BACK WAS HAVING MIYAGI'S CHARACTER WOVEN THROUGH THE CASE.

WITHOUT IT I WOULDN'T SIGN ON, BECAUSE WITHOUT THAT CHARACTER AND PERFORMANCE WE'RE NOT HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.

THE GUYS WERE ALWAYS ON BOARD WITH THAT.

IT'S A CONSTANT COLLABORATION.

'KARATE KID,' VERY BLACK AND WHITE, AND 'COBRA KAI' IS VERY GRAY, AND I THINK THAT'S PART OF THE INTELLIGENCE OF HOW TO CONTINUE A STORY.

BUT NEVER LOSING SIGHT OF THE THEMES.

ONE OF THE BIGGEST REVELATIONS FOR ME WAS THE ACTING CHOPS OF YOUR COSTAR, BILLY ZUKKA.

HE'S NO LONGER NOT ONLY THE WL BLOND BULLY.

AND I SAY NOT ONLY BECAUSE YOU SEE MOMENTS.

HE'S WALKING THROUGH THE SCHOOL AND SEE AS A DWEEBISH KID CARRYING BOOKS AND KNOCKS THEM DOWN.

AND HE SAYS, SORRY, KID, AN OLD HABIT.

HE MAKES YOU LAUGH AND CRY, LAUGH AND CRY AT THE SAME TIME.

THAT WASN'T CALLED FOR IN 'KARATE KID,' SO WE DIDN'T SEE THE REACH.

DID YOU KNOW WHAT A GOOD ACTOR HE WAS?

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

BILLY CONSTANTLY IMPRESSES ME WITH HIS PERFORMANCE AND THE LEVELS AND LAYER OF DEPTH THAT HE BRINGS TO IT.

LISTEN, IF HE WASN'T GREAT AT THE ONSET OF 'COBRA KAI' WE'RE NOT TALKING SEASON FIVE.

YOU NEEDED THAT CHARACTER TO COME THROUGH IN THE WRITING AND IN THE PERFORMANCE.

AND HE DOES, HE KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK, AND WE HAVE -- I STILL FEEL EVERY TIME I WATCH THE SHOW THAT WHEN HE AND I ARE TOGETHER, IT JUST ELEVATES -- THERE IS A BIT OF THAT MAGIC THAT 'KARATE KID' MAGIC THAT CAME FROM THE ORIGINAL FILM.

MUST CREDIT THE FILMMAKERS FROM BACK IN THE '80s.

THEY CREATED THAT.

WHEN ELIZABETH SHUE COMES ON, THOMAS GRIFFITH, ALL THE ACTORS, OGs FROM THE ORIGINAL ARE KNOCKING IT OUT OF THE PARK.

THERE WERE SOME POIGNANT MOMENTS WHEN THE ORIGINAL 'COBRA KAI' GUYS SHOW UP.

PEOPLE GOT TO SEE IT.

THE DYNAMIC ISN'T JUST BETWEEN JOHNNY AND DANIEL.

THE NEW GENERATION OF CHARACTERS, THE DYNAMICS AMONG THEM IS INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT.

I WONDER THE FEEDBACK YOU'VE GOTTEN FROM PEOPLE LIKE ME, THE OLD -- THE VETERAN 'KARATE KID' FANS.

THEY -- THEY LOVE IT.

THEY REALLY -- THEY REALLY -- YOU KNOW, WE GET A LOT OF, THANK YOU FOR BRINGING MY CHILDHOOD BACK, OR GIVING ME MY CHILDHOOD BACK.

I HEAR THAT ALL THE TIME.

THEN I HAVE 12-YEAR-OLD KIDS COMING UP WITH BIG EYES AND SAYING, WHOA, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN IT'S 1984 ALL OVER AGAIN.

AND I WRITE TO THAT IN 'WAXING ON', HOW THAT JOURNEY HAS BEEN AND THE PRISMS, WHAT PERSPECTIVE YOU'RE LOOKING AT IT FROM, WHAT GENERATION.

FEW SHOWS OR ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS FAMILIES TOGETHER EQUALLY.

I GOT TWO SHORT QUESTIONS LEFT.

THE FIRST ONE IS, NOW THAT 'COBRA KAI' HAS COMPLETED ITS FIFTH SEASON, WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF THE 'KARATE KID' UNIVERSE?

MORE SPINOFFS, MORE 'COBRA KAI,' MORE SOMETHING ELSE?

WELL, WE'RE HOPING FOR MORE 'COBRA KAI.'

THAT HASN'T OFFICIALLY BEEN GREEN LIT PAST SEASON PHI, BUT WE'RE FEELING CONFIDENT ABOUT SEASON SIX.

THE NUMBERS IN VIEWERSHIP IS WAY UP THERE, AND WE HAVE MORE STORY TO TELL.

WHENEVER THAT COMES IN FOR A LANDING I HOPE IT'S SATISFYING TO THE FANS, AND I THINK IT WILL BE.

AND THEN CERTAINLY OPEN TO SPINOFFS.

I KNOW THE GUYS, THE CREATORS OF THE SHOW ARE TALKING OTHER CONCEPTS.

IT'S -- IT'S 'KARATE KID' CINEMATIC UNIVERSE, SO WHO KNOWS WHERE IT GOES.

SO FAR SO GOOD IN HOW WE'VE HANDLED IT AND HOW THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN.

I CERTAINLY HOPE IT DOES, AS I SAID, IT'S A WONDERFUL SERIES.

AND IT'S A WONDERFUL BOOK.

I ENCOURAGE ALL OUR VIEWERS TO GO OUT AND BUY IT.

IT'S LIKE GOING TO LONG ISLAND AND TALKING TO YOU FOR TWO HOURS.

IT'S WONDERFUL.

RALPH, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT THERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU, MAN.

BYE-BYE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- . SCENARIOS

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