Ralph Macchio, best-known for playing Daniel LaRusso in three Karate Kid films, will hit the City of Brotherly Love this weekend for Wizard World Philly 2017.
"They really do a good job there," Macchio said of the event organizers in an interview. "It's a great city and great turnout. I haven't been to Philly in a few years, and these things have started to really become popular all over the place. The fans really love it.
"That's what it's really about for me -- the fans. I get to meet the next generation, which is really cool. I get a lot of parents bringing their kids, and so the creative legacy of some of my older projects (Karate Kid, My Cousin Vinny) live on, and some of the new stuff you get to talk about. It's really a lot of fun."
Macchio said that as a New Yorker, he enjoys talking sports; being "the enemy" as an Islanders, Mets, and Jets fan; the history of the city; and the special tie The Karate Kid has with the original Rocky, as both were directed by John Avildsen.
"People show up and are spirited," he said. "They have a little of that East Coast swagger, which I love."
"I try not to get too much Philly cheesesteak, though, because I'm not getting any younger," Macchio, 55, said with a laugh. "It tastes great, and then about a half-hour afterwards, you're stuffed. It's so delicious going down and then as soon as the napkin is done wiping your chin, you're in total regret mode. It's awesome!"
Macchio then said that, because of an acting job, his schedule at Wizard World Philly 2017 has changed from what was originally announced.
"I'll be at Wizard World Philly once it opens on Thursday, all day Friday, and about half of Saturday. I'll probably have to leave around 2," he said. "They wanted me to leave earlier, but I didn't want to disappoint the fans. But if you plan on coming late afternoon Saturday or Sunday, I won't be there."
Even after nearly four decades as a professional actor, Macchio knows that he is best known, and probably always will be, for the crane-kicking, lovable underdog Daniel LaRusso.
It was not always something he embraced.
"There was definitely a time about 15 years ago where I felt so locked into it, and everyone was much less open to having me pursue other paths. So, yes, there were times it was a little less favorable to me.
"But, then again, you've got to remember that Daniel LaRusso is a role model in cinema and a hero to fans for thirtysomething years. So it makes no sense to me to do anything other than embrace that.
"Daniel has stood the test of time and still resonates now. He's this aspirational character, who was the kid next door and had no business winning anything. He represented a piece of all of us ... and made us feel we can achieve our goals. Everybody felt like Daniel LaRusso at one point.
"Plus he has the crane kick! Come on!"