Jet-lagged he may have been, but Ralph "Karate Kid" Macchio was happy to oblige with an interview or two to promote the final performances of
, the musical his daughter Julia stars in.
Macchio, 54, flew into Auckland yesterday morning from Los Angeles after an earlier flight from his New York home. It is his first visit to New Zealand and will be more of a long weekend as family and work commitments mean he can't stay longer.
"I've always wanted to come to New Zealand and to see Julia in her final performances of her first big touring musical was a great excuse," he says. "It might only be for a few days but that's a little bit better than nothing and we get to fly home together."
Macchio admits he teared up when, in October, he saw Julia, 24, perform for the first time in the role of steel worker-club dancer Alex Owens. While he's seen the show around eight times, the proud father intends to watch a couple more performances during the weekend, and maybe visit a west coast beach and some central Auckland hotspots.
Julia Macchio, who's been in town for 10 days, says it's been great to spend a bit more time in one city. While she's visited many places in the United States on tour, the cast and crew usually spend just a day or two before moving to the next venue.
She says New Zealanders have been amazingly friendly and there's been a great vibe from those who have seen Flashdance. Macchio says he experienced a warm welcome before he'd even left Auckland International Airport.
"A woman came running up to me at the [Auckland] airport and said, 'my friend met you in Houston and sent me a photo and I just want to say welcome to New Zealand and I hope you enjoy yourself here'."
More than 30 years after he starred as Daniel LaRusso in
, Macchio is still recognised for the role and is regularly asked to do the film's signature "crane kick". He very rarely obliges, saying he'd be doing it almost every day, but is happy to speak about the film.
"As you get older, you begin to understand the privilege of having been involved with a film like that and now that I am in my 50s - yes, I've said it - I realise it was a rare honour to be connected with something that genuinely touched people and connected on a very human level."
Macchio believes it has endured partly because of its 80s pop culture elements - the crane kick, the "wax on, wax off" cleaning/training scene - and because Daniel LaRusso was a kid so many people could relate to.
Who: Ralph and Julia Macchio
Where and when: Civic Theatre. Ends Sunday