Ralph Macchio, protagonist of Karate Kid, who continues to play the role of Daniel LaRusso in Cobra Kai, the sequel to the Netflix series, recently revealed that several famous auditioned for the role of Daniel in the 1980s, including a young Robert Downey Jr.
Now, Macchio is no longer exactly in danger of losing the role of LaRusso because of his great performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of The Outsiders, but as he has told Jimmy Fallon, the studio tested other actors just for security.
“They found me quickly,” Macchio said. “They signed me very quickly, but it was one of those roles that you were afraid you wouldn’t get. I remember going and seeing Charlie Sheen with producer Jerry Weintraub, and wondering what he was doing there.”
Also there were Nicolas Cage and Robert Downer Jr.
Also there? “Nic Cage, I think, and Robert Downey Jr.”
So even though the possibility was not very great, we could have seen a different Karate Kid and very different careers than Macchio.
Back in the ’80s, Downey Jr. had a stable career playing movie bullies and sidekicks, and was even an SNL cast member during the ’85-’86 season, but he’d find breakout success by co-headlining 1987’s Less Than Zero and The Pick-up Artist.
In the 80s, Downey Jr. had a steady career with movie roles and cameos. However, he did not succeed. Macchio played Daniel LaRusso in three Karate Kid films and reprized his role in The Karate Kid Part III: Cobra Kai.