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Back to the Future: Ralph Macchio "New York Accent" Cost Him Marty

Ralph Macchio will always be proud and grateful for the opportunities he's earned in Hollywood, whether it's his signature role as Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid franchise, which includes the legacy sequel Netflix TV series Cobra Kai, his unforgettable turns Bill Gambini in 1992's My Cousin Vinny, and as Johnny Cade in 1983's The Outsiders. While promoting his memoir Waxing On, the actor revealed a few huge roles that eluded his grasp, including Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future (1985) and Ted Farmer in John Hughes' Sixteen Candles (1984).

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Christopher Lloyd as Doc and Michael J. Fox as Marty in Back to the Future (1985). Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Macchio's Awkward Back to the Future Audition

Macchio recalled his Back to the Future audition. "They were like, 'Can you lose the New York accent? This is more apple pie and all-American,'" the Long Island actor told Yahoo of his audition. "The irony is that the role was played by a Canadian!" That Canadian in question was Michael J. Fox, who ended up pulling double duty working on the film at night and his sitcom Family Ties during the day. Fox, who was Zemeckis's original choice, wasn't initially available due to his scheduling conflict with the NBC series, so they settled on Eric Stoltz. When Stoltz didn't work out, Zemeckis reached a deal to bring in Fox and reshoot the Marty scenes. Macchio harbored no ill and agreed the "right Marty was picked."

cobra kai
Cobra Kai. Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso in Cobra Kai. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The actor recalled trying out for super-geek Ted in the Hughes film alongside his The Outsiders castmate and trying to be too literal. "Emilio [Estevez] and I auditioned for the 'Sixteen Candles' together," Macchio said. "I had it in my head that I was gonna have this nerdy walk and a little bit of a nasal talk, and John Hughes and the casting director wanted me to be just natural, Ralph. But in my head, I was like: 'I'm not a nerd!' I was way too cool in my mind. So I was never in a John Hughes movie. Almost every actor at that time was, and I guess Matt Dillon and I were the two that never got cast in a John Hughes movie."

For more on Macchio's career, including his earlier role on Eight is Enough, his relationship with his The Karate Kid co-star Pat Morita, his franchise legacy leading into Cobra Kai, and more, you can check out the rest of the interview here.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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