Huntington native Ralph Macchio will reprise his iconic role from the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” in “Cobra Kai,” a 10-episode comedy on YouTube Red, the streaming service announced Friday. William Zabka, who played Macchio’s rival in the original movie, will co-star.
The series is set 30 years after the original film. Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) is facing hard times and reopens the Cobra Kai dojo, which puts him at odds with Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who is still trying to adjust to life without Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita, who died in 2005).
“If ‘The Karate Kid’ was Daniel’s story, ‘Cobra Kai’ is equal parts Daniel and Johnny’s story,” Macchio, 55, told The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news. “Also because this is a series and not a movie, we really wanted to re-imagine how the story was told. Changing the name made sense as part of that.”
“It was not easy to get me to do it,” Macchio said Friday at a surprise appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “I’ve been asked and pitched many times over the years. This was a smart and fresh angle, and I believe things happen at a certain time for a certain reason, and this was just the right time.”
As for his character, Macchio said “He’s become very successful and maybe has lost a little bit of touch — he needs to have flaws, and he had flaws as a kid and he will have them as an adult. His heart is always in the right place. As I’ve done at 50-something years old, there comes a time where part of your life creates some challenges: raising teenagers, trying to handle your successful business and having your nemesis come back 30 years later keep you up at night just because of the importance of carrying on the Miyagi legacy. Then how Daniel’s wife will embrace or not embrace this new chapter of him now going back to the dojo. I’m looking forward to that evolution.”
The script will be written by “Hot Tub Time Machine’s” Josh Heald and “Harold and Kumar’s” Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.
The original “Karate Kid” spawned two sequels (1986 and 1989) and a remake with Jaden Smith in 2010.