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Not Just the ‘Karate Kid’: 10 of Our Favorite Ralph Macchio Movies and TV Shows

Plus, learn what earned him the role in 'My Cousin Vinny.' 


For the past four decades, we’ve known Ralph Macchio best as Daniel LaRusso, a.k.a. the Karate Kid. The classic martial arts movie hit theaters in 1984, and since then, Macchio has reprised the role in two sequels, the Netflix show Cobra Kai, and two Cobra Kai video games. Even the title of his 2022 memoir, Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me, is a nod to the iconic character. But those aren’t the only Ralph Macchio projects, movies and TV shows that should be on your radar.

Born on Long Island, New York, Macchio began taking tap dancing lessons at a young age. When he was 16 years old, an agent spotted him in a dance recital and encouraged him to audition for commercials. A few years later, he landed a role on the family drama Eight is Enough, then went on to start in the coming-of-age movie The Outsiders.

MUST-READ: The Cast of ‘The Outsiders’ Then and Now: See Where the Stars of the ’80s Classic Are Today

More recently, Macchio has appeared on shows like Entourage, Ugly Betty, and The Deuce. And later this year, he’ll be back in the dojo for a sixth season of Cobra Kai and a new Karate Kid movie co-starring Jackie Chan. Until then, here’s a look back at some of the best Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows.

10. Eight is Enough (1980-1981)

Macchio joined the cast of Eight is Enough during the show’s fifth season. The heartfelt family show follows the ups and downs of the Bradford family, which includes a widowed newspaper columnist, his new wife Abby, and their eight children. Macchio plays Abby’s troubled nephew, Jeremy Andretti, who comes to live with the family. The role helped to launch his career, but due to declining ratings, the show was cancelled at the end of the season.

MUST READ: Ralph Macchio Has the Cutest Story About Meeting His Wife When He Was 15

9. The Outsiders (1983) Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows

Based on the 1967 novel by S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders is known for helping to launch the careers of Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, and Diane Lane. But landing the gig was a nerve-wracking process — Macchio revealed that director Francis Ford Coppola made the up-and-coming actors audition in front of each other on a soundstage.

And after Macchio landed the part of doomed greaser Johnny Cade, Coppola instructed him to sleep outside in the dirt so he could better understand his character. Macchio’s efforts paid off, and the movie became a teen classic.

8. The Karate Kid trilogy (1984-1989)

Macchio’s moving performance in The Outsiders helped him to land the lead role in this martial arts movie — beating out actors like Robert Downey Jr and Nicolas Cage in the process. Macchio stars as Daniel La Russo, a New Jersey teenager who moves to Los Angeles with his widowed mother. After being beaten up by bullies, he seeks the help of the maintenance man at his apartment complex, who happens to be a karate master. Critics and audiences loved the heartwarming story, and the film brought in $130 million worldwide.

Macchio went on to star in two sequels, The Karate Kid II and The Karate Kid III. While the second movie garnered positive reviews and matched the box office performance of the original, the third installment brought in less than $40 million and fell flat with audiences. Macchio opted out of appearing in the fourth movie, The Next Karate Kid — at 33 years old, he felt he had aged out of playing the teenage character.

MUST-READ: 20 of the Best Movies from 1984 — Celebrating Their 40th Anniversary This Year

7. My Cousin Vinny (1992) Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows

Macchio followed up his Karate Kid success with a starring role in this classic courtroom comedy about Bill and Stan, two college kids who are falsely accused of murder and have to rely on Bill’s cousin Vinny — a personal injury lawyer from Brooklyn who barely passed the bar exam — to get them off the hook.

Surprisingly, the movie’s director had never actually seen Macchio in Karate Kid before he was cast as Bill. “I watched him in a couple of videos that his agent sent and I thought he was just perfect for the part,” the director explained in the DVD commentary.

MUST READ: Catch Up With the ‘My Cousin Vinny’ Cast, Then and Now

6. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1996-1997)

Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows: Ralph Macchio in 2002
Ralph Macchio in 2002 George De Sota / Staff/Getty

From 1996 to 1997, Macchio took a brief break from the screen to star in the US National Tour of How to Succeed. The 1961 musical was revived in 1995 as a Broadway production featuring Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally.

When Broderick left the Broadway cast, Macchio was offered the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch — but he opted to perform the role as part of the touring cast instead. Critics across the country raved about his performance, and it helped Macchio bridge the gap from playing teenagers to taking on more mature movie roles.

5. Ugly Betty (2008-2009) Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows

While Macchio never took an official hiatus from acting, he scaled back for a bit in the early 2000s to focus on his family. “I had that sort of dry time where I wasn’t working as much in front of the camera,” he told Vanity Fair in 2020. “It wasn’t completely by design, but…it couldn’t have worked out better. I had so much time as a husband and a father.”

He returned to acting with a recurring role in this ABC show about the quirky personal assistant to the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine. Macchio plays Archie Rodriguez, a local politician who becomes the love interest of Betty’s sister, Hilda. His character was only supposed to appear in two episodes, but fans loved the chemistry between Archie and Hilda so much that he ended up staying through two seasons.

4. Dancing with the Stars (2011)

Macchio appeared on the 12th season of this celebrity dance competition. Teaming up with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, he ultimately placed fourth overall, beating out stars like supermodel Petra Nemcova, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and model Kendra Wilkinson. Of course, his impressive moves came as no surprise, since he was a dancer long before he became an actor.

3. Hitchcock (2012) Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows

In the two decades after My Cousin Vinny, most of Macchio’s higher-profile appearances were on TV shows. That changed in 2012, when he had a small role in Hitchcock, a biographical drama about the making of the classic horror movie Psycho. The powerhouse cast included Anthony Hopkins, Scarlett Johansson, and James D’Arcy. Macchio appears in the movie as Joe Stefano, the young screenwriter who adapted the Psycho novel into a screenplay.

2. The Deuce (2017-2019)

This HBO drama is set in New York City during the rise of the adult film industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Macchio joined the cast as the jaded vice cop Officer Haddix. Once again, he was only expected to appear in a few episodes — but his character struck a chord with fans, and the show’s creative team kept him on for 17 episodes.

1. Cobra Kai (2018-present) Ralph Macchio movies and TV shows

This continuation of the Karate Kid franchise premiered on YouTube Red in 2018. Set 34 years after the original movie’s All-Valley Karate Tournament, the show takes a more nuanced look at the characters of Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. When Johnny reopens the aggressive Cobra Kai dojo, it reignites his rivalry with Daniel, who opens his own dojo — and begins training Johnny’s estranged son.

The show was a nostalgic hit, and the first season received a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It skyrocketed in popularity after moving to Netflix in 2020 — the first two seasons became the most-watched series on the streaming platform, drawing 2.2 billion streaming minutes in one week. The show’s sixth and final season is in the works and is expected to air later this year.

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