Ralph Macchio: I play a character whose name is Tom Kuftinec. It’s a story about a young, ten year-old girl, who is struggling with being an exceptionally smart child from sort of a working class (family). I play a super of a building in New York. And the parents are trying to do all the right things for her, and put her in a specialty school, but she doesn’t quite fit in as this isn’t PS 51. And along the way to this new private school she meets this older guy in the park, F. Murray Abraham, and he’s always playing chess in the park. He teaches her a little bit about life. He’s the Mr. Miyagi to her young, coming-of-age story. And I play the dad who’s trying to answer all those questions that a ten year-old would bring to him when he’s struggling to make ends meet, and give the best to his kids.
It’s very sweet, charming coming of age (story) with a little magical element there. It was a fun part to play.
G2M: With social media there’s a lot of talk about cyber-bullying, and bullying in schools in general. I know one the themes of “The Karate Kid” was how Daniel Larusso learned to deal with his bullies. If you can step into that headspace, how would the Karate Kid deal with cyber-bullying today?
Ralph Macchio: That’s an interesting question. Not to go too far off track, I developed a show which never got to air, which was sort of a realty-based show on bullying; and dealing with how it’s changed with social media. It’s faceless, you know? The bully is faceless these days. It’s not just stealing your lunch money, and pushing you into a locker. It’s far more complex.
How would the character Daniel Larusso deal with present day bullying? The only thing I could (say) - in trying to wrap my head around this both as a parent and someone who is asked the question playing that role - is the role of the bystander really needs to change. There’s no room for anyone to sit and watch. Or have knowledge of and not take some form of action.
It’s so complicated now because of social media. And sometimes it’s the parents who are the bullies. It’s faceless, it’s as covert as it gets, and challenging and difficult.
But I think my biggest advice is if anyone sees something has to say something, has to take some form of action. I remember as a kid myself seeing a kid get picked on in the lunchroom, and whatever, simple as that not saying it, and wondering why I didn’t try to impart some help or support. That’s a tough question because it’s a very complicated and difficult issue.
G2M: The Karate Kid had 3 films with 3 different love interests. Which one did Daniel Larusso finally settle on?
Ralph Macchio: Oh that’s a good one. I’ve never been asked that one before. That’s right, you had Elizabeth Shue in the first picture. You had Tamlyn Tomita as the little Asian Girl (Kumiko) in the second. And Robyn Lively- she was sort of just a friend. We never got a kiss out of that one. He got a kiss out of the first two. Who would Larusso wind up with? Wow.
Ralph Macchio: That’s a good one, because of virtue by the writers, they had Ali - she’d probably be so mad at him they’d never get back together. Maybe he goes back to Okinawa and marries the Asian girl. I don’t have a clue man. But that’s a good question. I like it. Maybe he finally gets in on with the Robyn Lively character because they never - you know she just kissed him on the cheek. How empty was that?
G2M: Yeah, after all the stuff he went through, especially.
Ralph Macchio: That’s right. Although that movie had so many problems with the script back then. The first one was by far my favorite of the three, although the second one I felt was a very worthy sequel. But the third one, what often happens, and always happens in Hollywood, they try to squeeze water out of a rock. And then they made another one. And then they remake it. But the first one was magic, it really was.
G2M: Where can people interact with you on social media?
Ralph Macchio: Yeah, I think Twitter is good. (@RalphMacchio) I don’t do much Facebook, occasionally I put a post up. Twitter is great. I connect out there. It’s fun.
I just had some fun last night. I was at a ballgame in Baltimore with my son who is looking at colleges. And there was someone in front of me who was maybe unsure of who I was, so she’s Googling me on her phone. So I took a picture of her and we put that out there and got a great response. That’s the fun part of it. That’s a fun way to connect.
And it’s a great way to promote projects you have; something indie projects, or smaller projects that don’t have the big press machine. You have a chance to bring people to the table. If you have a film festival or a screening, you can say come one down. Just like we’re doing in Chicago next weekend. When I get to town, I’ll hit people up and hopefully we’ll have a good time.
Ralph Macchio will be appearing at the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con this weekend. Visit WizardWorld.com for more info and to purchase tickets.