'Karate Kid' Ralph Macchio Shares How Typecasting Helped Him Relate to Late Castmate Pat Morita

Actor Ralph Macchio appears on ABC's "The View," Oct. 18, 2022. Screengrab credit: ABC/The View

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who relishes fond memories of watching the late Noriyuki “Pat” Morita play “Arnold,” the owner of the drive-in/restaurant on the sitcom “Happy Days.” And as it turns out, “Cobra Kai” star Ralph Macchio is in the same club. He appeared as a guest on Tuesday’s episode of ABC’s “The View” to promote his new memoir, “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me,” and the conversation led to the actor waxing somewhat nostalgic about his beloved, late co-star from “The Karate Kid.”


Macchio talks about how he and Morita, in some ways, ended up sharing a similar experience, the very persistent, Hollywood practice of typecasting a performer as one kind of character–sometimes decades after they played the original role.

Well, as he tells the story, that positive perception of Morita from “Happy Days” got turned on its head by hesitant film executives, when a casting director wanted to cast the veteran actor in a nuanced role in “The Karate Kid, that of Daniel LaRussa’s mentor, “Mr. Miyagi.”

Whoopi Goldberg asked Macchio about that tense moment during production, while adding she was placed in a similar position before being cast in “Ghost” (a role for which Goldberg went on to earn an Academy Award and a Golden Globe award). Morita was nominated for his own Oscar, as well.

Macchio says:

Pat at that point, was…to me, he was “Arnold” on “Happy Days.” Right? He was great as “Arnold” on “Happy Days.” That was my Tuesday nights on ABC, man.

So, I actually felt the same way, a bit. [Really?] “Arnold” on “Happy Days,” it’s comic, you know? Does he have the depth of this [Mr.] Miyagi role? Like I knew.

What’s funny is that it foreshadowed–that foreshadowing is interesting to me, because I was about to step into my own amount of typecasting and preconceived…as my career went on.


Macchio explains that once the producers saw the audition tape of Morita as Miyagi, they quickly changed their minds.

He also shares a fun story in the lively sit-down about getting the opportunity to sneak into a movie theater before “The Karate Kid” became the smash hit it did, and how surreal it was to see the audience enjoying what he was doing up on the silver screen:

Readers may not know that Pat Morita passed away in 2005. R.I.P. to a great, American actor, and how wonderful for Ralph to be able to treasure his remembrances–and share them with the world like this.



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