Every Actor Considered For Karate Kid’s Daniel LaRusso Before Ralph Macchio


Ralph Macchio originally won The foreigners’ producers with his role as Jeremy Andretti in the 1970s series Eight is enough. While Macchio’s heartbreaking performance as Johnny Cade touched viewers, many remember him best for his starring role in The Karate Kid film franchise. Macchio played Daniel LaRusso in the top three Karate Kid movies, but many other actors were considered for the role.



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Macchio’s performance as a young LaRusso received widespread critical acclaim. The actor reprized his role when The Karate Kid received a sequel television series titled Cobra Kai. The series has since become cult and has been renewed for a fifth season. Although someone completely different almost kicked Johnny Lawrence instead.

9 Robert Downey Jr. was not yet a big name in the film industry

In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Fallon asked Macchio if other actors were being considered to play Daniel LaRusso. Macchio recalled that he was found early in the casting process, but he met several big names before he was confirmed to appear in The Karate Kid. One actor he remembered was Robert Downey Jr.

“Downey Jr. also did the workshop for the part I did in The foreigners,” Macchio revealed. The future Iron Man The star had entered the film industry at a young age due to his father’s career, but didn’t get his first starring role until the 1987 film The pickup artist. Downey also had a small role in John Hughes Strange science.

8 Sean Penn actually started on Little House on the Prairie

While Sean Penn appeared in Fast times at Ridgemont High for one of his first film roles, he actually started his acting career as a guest on an episode in the family sitcom Western Little house on the prairie. According to Movie Web, Penn turned down the opportunity to star in The Karate Kid.

The martial arts franchise would have skyrocketed Penn’s movie career, but he decided to join the cast of crime dramas instead, like Point Blank and Carlito path. Penn then earned his first Oscar nomination for Dead man walking.

seven It was a family affair for Emilio Estevez during the auditionsFire of Emilio Estevez St Elmos

Emilio Estevez was a prominent member of the Brat Pack in 1980s teen movies. The actor appeared in countless teen movies, like The foreigners and The Breakfast Club. According to a casting sheet published by Sports Illustrated, Estevez and his two brothers, Ramon and Charlie, all auditioned to play Daniel in The Karate Kid.

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Estevez then played a different child, Billy the Kid, in the 1988 western Young guns and its 1990 sequel. Obviously, none of his family members had the chance to star in The Karate Kid film series.

6 Anthony Edwards was rejected because of his stature

Anthony Edwards is best known for his role as Goose alongside Tom Cruise in the 1986 film Top Gun. Goose is Maverick’s best friend and radar intercept officer. When Maverick and Goose are forced to eject from their F-14, Goose bangs his head against the plane’s canopy and is instantly killed.

While Edwards was best known for his role in Top Gun, he auditioned to play Daniel in The Karate Kid. The casting team deemed the actor “too tall” in the casting sheet and he was sent home.


5 Eric Stoltz hasn’t had the best luck with movies

Many remember Eric Stoltz as the Marty McFly who could have been. Stoltz played the lead role in Back to the future for six weeks, before Michael J. Fox was recruited to replace him. Before the actor was fired from Back to the future, he auditioned for The Karate Kid. Stoltz doesn’t have the best luck with casting.

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On Karate KidStoltz’s casting sheet was declined with the note “not enough dynamics”. As Back to the future, Stoltz also did not find the visions of these directors. Luckily, the actor went on to star alongside Cher in the 1985 film Mask and John Hughes’ A king of the marvelous – who, coincidentally, played Back to the futureIt’s Lea Thompson.


4 C. Thomas Howell starred alongside Macchio in The OutsidersThe-Outsiders-Johnny-and-Ponyboy-(1)-2

C. Thomas Howell is best known as Macchio’s on-screen best friend, Ponyboy Curtis, in The foreigners. Although the actor had a minor role in Steven Spielberg AND the extra-terrestrial one year before The foreigners has been freed.

Howell was among the many actors in SE Hinton’s film adaptation considered to play Daniel in The Karate Kid. Howell declined the opportunity to audition and did not publicly comment on the reason for his decision. Howell’s career might have been changed forever had he gone to audition.


3 Charlie Sheen didn’t look like a Jersey ItalianCharlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men

Charlie Sheen was another name Macchio added to the mix during his interview with Jimmy Fallon. “I remember walking by and seeing Charlie Sheen hanging out in front of Jerry Weintraub’s cabin.” Macchio continued to joke that Sheen “didn’t look like a Jersey Italian”.

During the same year as The Karate Kid came out, Sheen had a small role in Hughes Ferris Bueller’s day off and a leading role in Section. Like his brother, Sheen probably had too many things to do to even think about starring in The Karate Kid.


2 Tom Cruise rose to fame without the Karate Kid

People don’t have to look far to find an 80s movie starring Tom Cruise. Cruise received his breakthrough role in the 1983 film Risky business and went on to star in other 80s movies, like Superior gun, the color of silver, and Rain man. Cruise also starred alongside Macchio in The foreigners.

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Even though Cruise couldn’t star in The Karate Kid, he actually saved the life of Elisabeth Shue, the actress who played Ali. During the filming of the 1988 film Cocktail, Cruise tackled Shue to keep him from stepping into the tail rotor of a helicopter.


1 Nicolas Cage only had a few films under his belt

Macchio vaguely remembered Nicolas Cage’s name being mentioned to play Daniel LaRusso. Cage had nowhere near the number of movies to his name at the time of The Karate Kid. Although he has acted in films like growling fishadapted by his uncle Francis Ford Coppola, and that of Alan Parker Birdy.

Cage has taken a methodical approach to his birdie role, which resulted in the pulling out of his two front teeth. Some can’t help but wonder how Cage would’ve been in a teenage martial arts movie like The Karate Kid.

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