'Karate Kid' no flash in the pan for Macchio family

By Dionne Christian

Actor Ralph Macchio and daughter Julia Macchio. Photo / AP
Actor Ralph Macchio and daughter Julia Macchio. Photo / AP

"Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio arrives in New Zealand this week to see his daughter, Julia, who is starring in Flashdance - the Musical.

It is his first visit to New Zealand and Julia, 24, couldn't be more excited.

She describes her famous father, who starred as Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid films of the 1980s, as one of her most loyal supporters and trusted advisers.

"He's always encouraged me to follow my dreams and talked to me a lot about the importance of hard work, always doing your best and being respectful," says Julia, who first watched the movie Flashdance with her dad when she learned she had landed an audition for the lead role of Alex Owens.

Born and raised in New York, she has been dancing since she was 5 and graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in dance.

The Macchio family - Ralph, mum Phyllis and younger brother Daniel - is close and they've seen Julia in Flashdance "a bunch of times" since she debuted in the role as steelworker and club dancer in October.

Like most proud dads today, Ralph, 54, posted on his Facebook page after her first performance: "Please go see Flashdance National Tour starring Julia Macchio (proud papa) coming to a city/town near you! It's fantastic. You will love it!!"

Friends and fans responded, saying Julia was "amazing" and that the elder Macchio has a "very talented daughter" who "stole the show".

Julia doesn't mind interviewers asking about her dad because she is delighted by the example he has set.

"If I'd made a movie that people were still talking about and remembering so positively 30 years later, I'd feel very proud."

Throughout her childhood, Ralph was often stopped by fans who requested he do the most famous Karate Kid move: the crane-kick. Julia says he was always polite to fans and ocasionally he obliged with a re-enactment of the iconic step.

Flashdance - the Musical was written by film screenplay writer Tom Hedley and debuted in 2008, 25 years after the movie came out.

A two-year UK tour followed, before it touched down in the US, where it has completed three tours.

The New Zealand performances at The Civic in Auckland are its final ones.

- Herald on Sunday

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