Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - From that earliest age, anytime I would see a movie I would come home and I would, you know, act out my version of it. Yes, I pretended to be Rocky Balboa, okay. It's ironic I was in "The Karate Kid" made by the same filmmaker. Oh, I wanted to be a Michael Corleone, but a nice Michael Corleone, [laughs] not a criminal. So I think it's always been in my bones to perform, to create in that way. [upbeat instrumental music] Hi, this is Ralph Macchio, and this is the timeline of my career. - Okay, here's what you gotta do. Butch Academy is coming over here for the big dance. [bottle screeching] Hey pipe head, this is gonna take a lot of preparation so pay attention. - This was 1979 and there was this film called "Up the Academy" that was casting. And I had done a few commercials, but a couple of Bubble Yum commercials at the time, and this was one of the first movie auditions. And I went in to New York City and I met with the director whose name was Robert Downey Sr. When I did my audition, he just kept giving me more improvisational F bombs to drop. I think he liked my sort of New York kinda young energy, and the fact that I was 17 at the time, I probably looked 12, and I guess the repetitive F bombs coming out of my mouth just had him laughing louder and louder. So I pretty much got the audition saying a lot of F bombs and being a tough New Yorker. - No shit. - It was a crazy time because you know '70s cinema and those directors and that time, there was a decent amount of drugs in the world and on the sets, and "Up the Academy" had its share of that in the behind the scenes moments. And I had no clue what was going on. I was as green as they come. I squeaked when I walked, that's how clean I was. [upbeat instrumental music] - They sure are pretty, aren't they? - Yeah, they are. - I'm really glad I came. - Oh yeah, me too. Sorry the party's such a drag, it's just that the Bradford's know a lot of old people. - I don't mind. - ABC was doing a talent search in New York I guess looking for young faces to plug into their established series. And I got lucky enough to be one that was chosen and plucked from New York and plugged into "Eight is Enough" at the time. And apparently they didn't think eight was enough, but I fortunately got to do 21 episodes that season. It was the final season so I always say I might've been nine was too many. It was a great training ground for me to week in and week out be part of this ensemble and learn from all these experienced actors and sort of be out on my own in Los Angeles at the time. I mean I got the parts before I kinda knew what I was doing. I mean I think I gotta give myself enough credit that I knew enough of what I was doing. So I dove deeper into the craft and studied acting after "Eight is Enough" and right before "The Outsiders." [upbeat instrumental music] - Things would go a lot better if Socials stayed on the south side of town. - Yeah well, don't you worry about that, Johnny because we're going to have it out with them sooner or later. - "The Outsiders" was a book I read in seventh grade when I was 12 years old. It was the first book I ever read without my parents or teacher telling me to read. I always had a great affinity for Johnny Cade, maybe because his description was close to how I looked and maybe because he was the sort of runt of the group and I was kind of the smallest guy in my class. So when I heard they were making the film, now I was saying, "I gotta get in. "I have to have the opportunity." So on the day that I did get the opportunity to audition for Francis Ford Coppola, who directed that film, who directed, you know, "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse", films that I've seen 25 to 40 times before then. This was all beyond the dream come true opportunity for me, and I remember Frances would mix and match actors all in one room together as he was looking for the chemistry and the ensemble. And anytime he picked me to read anything but Johnny, I was like, "Oh man, this is a disaster. "I have to get that part." I was so specifically driven to get that part. And as luck would have it, or fate, or destiny, or whatever, I got to play the role, a dream come true role for me in a film that is, you know, has a pretty good cast. Couple of guys. I run into these guys over the years and we have, whether it's Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, or Emilio, or C. Thomas Howell, when we see each other there's a kindred spirit. You know, we all kind of started at the same, in the same place. Everyone wanted to be in that movie. It was, you know, the cool movie to get and we were all blessed to have that opportunity. And for me, it's like your first kiss. It's your first girlfriend, you know. You never forget that and that's "The Outsiders" for me. It holds a very special place. [coach chattering] [audience cheering] - Finish him. No mercy, no mercy. Finish him. [crowd cheering] [dramatic instrumental music] - "The Karate Kid" came to me as an audition for John G. Avildsen, the director who had directed "Rocky", among other great films, and I remember hearing the title saying, "'The Karate Kid', this is a terrible title." And I read the script. Not that I wasn't to pursue, "The Outsiders" was just hitting at the time so things were starting to build as far as my recognition. It was the beginning of being taken seriously. But I went to John Avildsen's apartment on the Upper West Side and the whole way was all full of other people who kinda looked remotely like me or in that age range and waited my turn to go in. And I read with him one-on-one, and what's so interesting about that is that video you could see on YouTube of the first time I ever read for Daniel LaRusso, and it's interesting when I watched that because that character was happening there even before I knew he was being developed. I was cast early on and then it was all about who was going to play Mr. Miyagi. They were talking about Toshiro Mifune, the great Japanese actor who didn't speak any English so that would have been a challenge, but all of a sudden, Arnold from "Happy Days" shows up on videotape and Pat Morita and the studio did not want him. The producer did not want him. I was like, "Arnold from 'Happy Days'." You know, but John Avildsen was like, "I read him," and he said, "I've read you and I'm putting you guys "in a room together." And we, Pat Morita and I got in a room together and just grabbed the pages, started reading. And it was effortless. The magic that happened on the screen happened the first day we picked up the pages. He had Miyagi in his skin, in his mind, in his consciousness and I, for whatever the reason, had the yin to that yang, the balance, literally the balance. Did I say it? Balance that was sort of the beginning of the magic, the cinema magic, that resonate to this day. And the filming of "The Karate Kid" was a lot of work. I mean I was in every scene of the thing and I didn't know how that's ever gonna work. I mean, it's me, you know. You have to reference that the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing, but outside of that, there still needs to be some lightning in a bottle, some moons in proper alignment for something to stand the test of time like "The Karate Kid" has in cinema and also in pop culture. Looking back, I weathered the storm. It was a good storm and it still is. It still is. It's 36 years and climbing. [crowd chattering] - I'm not gonna be able to break that. The guy who just tried it was twice my size, he only got through two of them. What do you expect me to do? - Focus. - Great, and what are you gonna do? - Pray. - So the point that we had an idea we were gonna be making a "Karate Kid Part Two" happened pretty early. We came out of seeing a sneak preview of "The Karate Kid" and everybody out on sidewalk and the parking lot was doing the crane stance. They all were doing their version, whether they were a 10 year old kid or a 60 year old man, or, you know, it was, everybody was doing their version. And the producer Jerry Weintraub put his arm around my shoulder. He goes, "We're gonna be making a couple of these." That was before the movie ever came out in theaters. It's really amazing. It wasn't until it actually took off in the box office and it became a sleeper hit of that summer that we didn't get the option call that we're making a part two. It was such a smart idea to take the Okinawan culture, Japanese-Sumerian culture, and take Mr. Miyagi back to his homeland and then bring the kid, bring LaRusso there to experience that world. Pat Morita and I, I always describe our on-camera, off-camera as well, but our on-camera work as having a soulful magic to it. There was a great amount of mutual respect for each other. Our relationship wasn't necessarily mentor-student off camera, you know, 'cause he taught me how to eat sushi, but I taught him how to make pasta, you know what I'm talking about. It was a friendship. He's certainly missed but lucky for us we have the legacy of that great performance always and forever. [melancholy instrumental music] - Vin, you graduated from law school six years ago. What have you been doing since? - Studying for the bar. - Six years? - Uh-huh. - Right before "My Cousin Vinny," well, a bit before that, I was on Broadway with Robert De Niro in a play called "Cuba and his Teddy Bear" and Joe Pesci, I had met him 'cause he came to see the play with Scorsese and all those... It was just awesome for me as a young actor in New York on Broadway. And so then when "My Cousin Vinny" came up with Joe Pesci starring, and "Goodfellas" was out at the time, I think, or just ending its run, and I'd seen "Raging Bull" probably 70 times in the theater. Yes, I'm that guy. [chuckles] But "Vinny" came up and I was not, you know, okay, they need a guy, an Italian guy, college age, an Italian American from the East Coast to play Joe Pesci's cousin.