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I LOVED The Karate Kid. I loved Daniel LaRusso. And like a lot of other girls, I had a massive crush on Ralph Macchio. So when I heard he had a book coming out, I knew I had to get it. Like most memoirs that I read, I decided to listen to the audiobook. I really enjoy hearing the author telling their own story, in their own voice. That’s exactly what I did for Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me by Ralph Macchio.

What’s it about?

Waxing On is really a love story between a man and the iconic character he played. And like any other love story, there are challenges, ups and downs, and lots of fun moments.

Who should read it?

If you are a fan of the The Karate Kid series, Waxing on is a must-read. You will learn so much behind-the-scenes information that will have you rushing to go watch it again. I haven’t watched the Cobra Kai series yet, but Ralph may have convinced me to check it out. There’s plenty of the good stuff in the book for Cobra Kai fans as well.

Spoiler Alert – The Karate Kid!!!

I’m going to share info about The Karate Kid that I had no idea about. Some of this will come from the book, and some of it from research. I promise you, even if I tell you what some of these revelations, Waxing On is still a great read. Hearing him tell the stories in his own words, and voice if you listen to the audiobook, is definitely worth it.

Here we go, as part of my ongoing series…”I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Know This About…The Karate Kid”

  • Daniel's last name wasn't originally LaRusso

    It was Webber! Yes, in early drafts of the screenplay, Daniel’s last name was not LaRusso. They changed it to give the character more Italian roots once Ralph Macchio was cast in the movie.

  • Ralph has one HUGE regret

     

    Picture of Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid

    When he tells this story in the book, I had tears in my eyes for him. It really was a moment that he’ll never be able to get back. SPOILER! Ralph was asked to present at the Oscars and he turned down the offer. And the sad part was that he was asked to do it with his co-star Pat Morita who was up for a Best Supporting Actor award.

     

     

  • Ralph and Will Smith have an interesting connection

    Picture of Will Smith, Ralph Macchio, and Will's young son Jaden

    Producer Will Smith and actors Jaden Smith and Ralph Macchio attend “The Karate Kid” Los Angeles Premiere After Party at Mann Village Theatre on June 7, 2010 in Westwood, California.

    They both auditioned for roles in My Cousin Vinny. Ralph got his, Will did not. Years later, when Will Smith was producing the remake of The Karate Kid starring his son Jaden, there was a misunderstanding that led to Will calling Macchio. I guess Ralph had no idea that a remake was in the works when a reporter approached him and he was caught off guard. He had said that he wasn’t interested in a remake and that led to the headlines the next day saying that he slammed the remake.

    Will called to say, I know, Im messing with your baby, and told him he could get involved if he wanted too. Ralph appreciated the gesture, and even got on the phone with Jaden to wish him luck and tell him to have fun. Ralph later said that he felt that the remake did justice and only enhanced the legacy of the original movie.

     

  • He would have handled the Elizabeth Shue situation differently today

    One of the things that Ralph says he would definitely handle differently today, is what happened with Elizabeth Shue, who played Ali. Ali was written out of the second movie with just one line in the beginning of the film. Here’s what he says about it in the book…

    I never looked at it from the perspective of Alis character or from the perspective of Elisabeth as an actor. As an older person, there was a recognition of missteps, of things I should have done differently. I dunno. They probably would have said to me, Get outside, Macchio, and start practicing your karate kicks.’ Today, I think, there would be a different conversation. Women in movies were often thought to be disposable. I see that now. Then? I didnt see it. It was a case of youth being wasted on the young. I was swept up in everything that was happening in my life.

    She does return for a short time on Cobra Kai.

  • No one believed how old Macchio was

    A young Ralph Macchio in 1984

    Portrait of ‘The Karate Kid’ actor Ralph Macchio, September 4th 1984. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

    When cast as Daniel LaRusso, Macchio was 22-years-old playing a teenager. The reality was, the only real teenager in the main cast was William Zabka (Johnny) who was the youngest at 18. Elizabeth Shue (Ali) was 20 at the time.

    I get it though because I still can’t get over the fact that Macchio is 60-years-old.

  • The Karate Kid is based on the life of the screenwriter

    The screenwriter of The Karate Kid with 6 other members of the cast at an outdoor screening

    HOLLYWOOD, CA – JULY 21: (L-R) Ron Thomas, Tony O’Dell, William Zabka, Martin Kove, Bud Smith, Randee Heller and Robert Mark Kamen attend The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences’ Oscars Outdoors Screening Of “Karate Kid” on July 21, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

    From IMDB

    The story and movie is based on the life of its screenwriter, Robert Mark Kamen. At age 17, after the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Kamen was beaten up by a gang of bullies. He thus began to study martial arts in order to defend himself. Kamen was unhappy with his first teacher who taught martial arts as a tool for violence and revenge. So he moved on to study Okinawan Goju-ryu karate under a Japanese teacher who did not speak English but had been a student of Chojun Miyagi.

  • A lot of big name actors auditioned for the role of Daniel

    (Audition footage from 1983 – Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita)

    Some of the actors considered for the role of Daniel: Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr., Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Edwards, C. Thomas Howell, Tom Cruise, Eric Stoltz and D. B. Sweeney.

    Ralph Macchio got the role after he had impressed people in his role of Johnny Cade in The Outsiders (1983). Macchio has even said that his performance as Johnny influenced the development of Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid.

  • One of the most emotional scenes in the movie almost got cut

    The scene where Mr. Miyagi is drunk and reveals to Daniel that he lost his family in an internment camp. That scene is probably what earned Morita an Oscar nomination, and it had double meaning for Morita as he was taken to an internment camp for two years during WWII.

    The scene almost got cut because studio executives were concerned about the length of the film, and worried about it running over two hours. But apparently after screening it with an audience, everyone shut up and kept it.

  • Ralph has a son named, wait for it...Daniel!

    Photo of Ralph Macchio along with his son Daniel, wife Phyllis, and daughter Julia

    Can you believe it? Yeah there may have been a little Karate Kid influence in the name, but there were other reasons as well. He says that his wife Phyllis’ best friend growing up was her cousin Daniel, so she felt close to the name. And also, it was a classic biblical name that he loved.

  • Ralph spoke at Pat Morita's memorial service

    Ralph Macchio speaking at the memorial service of his Karate Kid co-star Pat Morita's funeral

    LAS VEGAS – NOVEMBER 30: Actor Ralph Macchio speaks during a memorial service for Pat Morita, his co-star in the movie “The Karate Kid”, at the Palm Mortuary & Memorial Park November 30, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Morita, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the movie, died Thursday at age 73. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    Macchio actual spoke at two different memorial services for Pat Morita. At first he felt that it may be more appropriate for someone else to deliver the eulogy, like Morita’s brother, but in the end decided to do it.

  • The "Your The Best" song wasn't originally for The Karate Kid

    Your The Best was originally made for another movie. The Joe Esposito song was supposed to be for the Rocky III movie, but then got changed to the iconic “Eye of the Tiger.” It was also offered for the Flashdance movie, but instead, Maniac was chosen. Personally, I think they all ended up in the right movies.

  • Ralph Macchio still owns the yellow car from the movie

    The classic yellow car that Mr. Miyagi gives to Daniel-San on his 16th birthday is a 1948 Ford Super De Luxe. Macchio toldEntertainment Tonightthat once production wrapped, producer Jerry Weintraub gavehim the car to keep as a memento and a token of gratitude.

    Ralph Macchio still owns the vehicle to this day and even agreed to allow it to be reused in the 2018sequel seriesCobra Kai.

  • The original ending was not the tournament fight scene

    The original ending ofThe Karate Kidis actually the scene that opensThe Karate Kid Part II,according to the original screenplay. Following Daniel’s victory at the All Valley Karate Tournament, a scene was written to follow the main characters into the parking lot. Kreese berates Johnny for losing and breaks his second-place trophy.

    Although the scene was written forThe Karate Kid, it was not filmed until the sequel was in production as it had already been decided it wouldn’t be the first film’s ending.

  • Cobra Kai includes never-before-seen Karate Kid footage

    There are several flashbacks in Cobra Kai that go back to The Karate Kid. So some of it looks familiar, but it’s different. The director, John Avildsen, filmed multiple takes and angles in the 1984 tournament, so there was a lot of footage that didn’t get used.

    The Cobra Kai people used a lot of this never-before-seen footage, including a shot where Johnny looks up into the stands and sees his parents sitting there, as well as new angles of Daniel’s legendary crane kick.

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