Sunday, May 9, 2021

Could Robert Downey Jr. have been the Karate Kid?

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Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio, who continues to star Daniel LaRusso in Netflix’s Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai, recently revealed that a few famous people auditioned for the role of Daniel in the early 1980s – including a young Robert Downey Jr. already cast, thanks in large part to his performance in the Francis Ford Coppola adaptation in 1983 from The Outsiders, but according to Macchio, while he was telling the story to Jimmy Fallon, he wasn’t quite a household name, so the studio wanted to audition other emerging actors of the time just to play it safe.

“I was found early,” Macchio said. “I got picked very early on, but it was like one of those test offers where you’re not yet. I remember walking past and seeing Charlie Sheen hanging out outside [producer] Jerry Weintraub’s bungalow, thinking, ‘What is Charlie doing here?’ “

Here too? “Nic Cage, I think, and Robert Downey Jr.”

“Robert Downey Jr. also did the workshop for the part I did in The Outsiders.”

Every Iron Man armor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

So even if the possibility was small, we could have gotten a very different Karate Kid and very different career paths for Macchio and the lucky winner of the Multiverse.

In the ’80s, Downey Jr. had a stable career playing bullies and movie sidekicks, and was even a member of the SNL cast during the 85-86 season, but he would find elusive success as a co-head of 1987 poster Less Than Zero and The Pick-up Artist.

Macchio would play the role of Daniel LaRusso in three Karate Kid films and then reprise the role, 30 years after The Karate Kid Part III, on Cobra Kai, which started as a YouTube Red series and is now a Netflix Original.

You can read IGN’s review of Cobra Kai: Season 3, which was released earlier this month, as well as dig deeper in the end of season 3 with this handy explanatory piece.

Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.



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