How Old Ralph Macchio Was In Each Karate Kid Movie & Cobra Kai Season

Daniel LaRusso is 17 at the start of The Karate Kid and 53 as of Cobra Kai season 5, but these ages don't line up with that of actor Ralph Macchio.

Daniel LaRusso in Cobra Kai season 5 and The Karate Kid 2

  • Ralph Macchio was 22 when he played the teenage underdog Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid, even though the character was 17.
  • Macchio aged two years between The Karate Kid Part II and The Karate Kid Part III, with the actor being 24 during filming.
  • In Cobra Kai Season 5, Macchio was 60 years old while portraying a 53-year-old Daniel LaRusso.

Ralph Macchio started his journey in the Karate Kid franchise playing teenage underdog Daniel LaRusso, but both character and actor have come a long way since then. The original movie was released in 1984, and at the time, no one knew what it would grow into. The Karate Kid Part II and The Karate Kid Part III were released in the following years, and then, decades later, the spin-off series Cobra Kai brought this franchise back into the limelight. This means The Karate Kid has been a massive part of Macchio's life, and he's celebrated many birthdays on the sets of the films and Netflix series.

As a character, Daniel is the perfect underdog. Young and a little reckless, his heart of gold always winds up leading the way (with a bit of help from Mr. Miyagi). He proved himself a true hero and inspiration again and again in the Karate Kid movies, with his initial story wrapping up with The Karate Kid Part III in 1989. Then Macchio returned to play Daniel-san 30 years later in the Cobra Kai series, with the first season streaming in 2018. This time around, Daniel took a back seat to his old nemesis, Johnny Lawrence. Still, Macchio's The Karate Kid character was much the same as he ever was—just a little bit older.

Ralph Macchio Was 22 In The Karate Kid

Daniel in a karate tournament in The Karate Kid (1)

Macchio's character was 17 at the start of The Karate Kid, which was set in 1984. In the film, he and Mr. Miyagi celebrated his 18th birthday shortly before the December 1984 All Valley Tournement (where Daniel had his first real fight with Johnny Lawrence). This is when Mr. Miyagi allowed Daniel to pick out one of his classic cars as a birthday present. In contrast, Macchio, who was born in November of 1961, was 22 when filming began for this first The Karate Kid movie. The actor had no trouble at all being believable as a teenager, though he was technically a Karate Adult when he took on the role in 1983.

Ralph Macchio Was 24 In The Karate Kid Part II


The Karate Kid Part II occurred in the summer following Daniel's battle with Johnny Lawrence at the All-Valley Tournament, so Daniel and Mr. Miyagi's trip to Japan occurred in 1985. So, the character is still 18 through his and Ally's breakup, as well as his big battle with Chozen. In truth, filming for the sequel started in September 1985, and The Karate Kid Part II hit theaters in June 1986. So, though only a few months had passed for Daniel in-plot, Macchio had aged two years since he last played the character. The actor would have celebrated his 24th birthday while filming was still ongoing.

Ralph Macchio Was 27 In The Karate Kid Part III


The Karate Kid Part III picked up at some point between Daniel and Miyagi's 1985 summer away in Japan and the 1985 All-Valley Tournament in December. So, once again, the character is only meant to be a few months older than when we had last seen him. Much more time had passed in the real world, and filming for the 1989 film began in December of 1988. This means that Macchio would have just celebrated his 27th birthday when he returned yet again to play the now 19-year-old character—the biggest age difference between the actor and character until Cobra Kai season 5.

Ralph Macchio Was 56 In Cobra Kai Season 1


Cobra Kai season 1 is set in 2017, so Daniel is meant to be 52 years old (the same age Mr. Miyagi was in The Karate Kid). A lot happened to the character since he was last seen in The Karate Kid Part III. The series revealed that Daniel had gotten married, had two kids, opened a car dealership, and, unfortunately, said goodbye to Mr. Miyagi (in 2011, the same year actor Pat Morita passed away). Macchio and Daniel's ages are a little closer together this season, with the actor being 56 during filming in 2017.

Ralph Macchio Was 57 In Cobra Kai Season 2

William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence and Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso in Cobra Kai Season 2

Filming began for Cobra Kai season 2 at the end of 2018, and the plot starts up in the summer of 2018 when Daniel opens Miyagi-Do Karate with Samantha and Robby as his only students. Only a few months have passed by the end of season 2, with the big school brawl in Cobra Kai taking place on the first day of the 2018 school year. So, though Daniel isn't any older compared to last season, Macchio celebrated his 57th birthday during filming.

Ralph Macchio Was 58 In Cobra Kai Season 3


The plot of Cobra Kai season 3 covered only a few months, with the premier picking up where season 2 had left off. Daniel and Johnny teamed up to find Robby after he fled the school fight, and the two senseis further dealt with the repercussions of the massive battle at the school. Daniel took his trip to Japan in the Fall of 2018, and Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang joined forces sometime around December. In the real world, filming for Cobra Kai season 3 had begun in the fall of 2019, so Macchio was about to turn 58.

Ralph Macchio Was 59 In Cobra Kai Season 4


Cobra Kai season 4 again picked up where the previous season had left off. Though Daniel and Johnny had tried to combine their two dojos, it didn't last long since they couldn't agree on whose style of karate would take the lead. Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do go their separate ways, and sometime around Spring 2019, the All-Valley Tournament announces the plan to create separate leagues for boys and girls. Daniel would have turned 53 in December of 2018, but since filming for Cobra Kai season 4 started in January 2021, Macchio would have been 59 while shooting scenes.

Ralph Macchio Was 60 In Cobra Kai Season 5

Daniel uses a crane kick against Silver in the Cobra Kai Season 5 finale

Cobra Kai season 3 is another installment in the series that only covered a couple of in-plot months. Things picked up in the spring of 2019, just after Hawk's All-Valley Tournament win and Daniel's decision to keep Miyagi-Do karate going. Johnny and Robby head to Mexico to find Miguel (who is miraculously fully recovered from his back injury that happened only a year previous). By the time Daniel faced off with Terry Silver at the end of Cobra Kai season 5, it is early summer of 2019, so the character is still 53. In real-world time, filming had wrapped in December 2021, with The Karate Kid's Macchio having turned 60 a couple of months before.