Ralph Macchio and Daughter Julia on Working Together on 'Cobra Kai' : She 'Showed Up for Her Old Man'

In Cobra Kai season 4, Ralph Macchio's daughter, Julia, makes an appearance as Daniel LaRusso's cousin Vanessa

Ralph Macchio's daughter Julia is following in his footsteps.

In the latest season of Cobra Kai, Julia, 29, appears in episode 8 alongside her father, 60, marking their first time sharing the screen together.

While Ralph is well-known for playing Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid films and Netflix's sequel series Cobra Kai, Julia joins the franchise as Daniel's cousin Vanessa LaRusso, who gives him and his wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) a quick lesson in parenting.

In Julia's big scene, seen above, Daniel and Amanda get defensive at the suggestion that they may be making mistakes with their son Anthony (Griffin Santopietro), who has recently gotten into trouble.

"This reaction is at the root of the problem. You're acting out," Julia, as Vanessa, tells Daniel and Amanda. (Julia's mom is Ralph's wife of 34 years, Phyllis; she has a younger brother named Daniel.) "I can prove it with a simple test: Now why do you think you love your daughter more than your son?"

"She knocked it out of the park," Ralph tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I was the proud father on set that day. As soon as she ran our first take, everybody was like, 'Holy crap, she's got this character.'"

Ralph Macchio
Curtis Bond Baker/Netflix

Having a famous father, Julia was always drawn to acting when she was growing up.

"It's something that I have wanted to do since as long as I can remember," she says. "I don't think there was ever really a moment where I thought of doing anything else. I used to act out Disney movies in our house. It was something that was in my blood."

Though Julia admits that growing up as the Karate Kid's daughter was "challenging at times" as she tried to make sense of "what fame even is," she was fortunate enough to have a dad like Ralph to help her navigate it all.

"It's been so helpful to have a grounded dad who also knows that world," she says. "He's always been a great, wise resource to have because he's been involved in this business for so long. He never hesitated to give me advice, but has also always supported me having a career [of] my own. So getting to work together on Cobra Kai could not have been a more fun experience."

Ralph Macchio
Curtis Bond Baker/Netflix

With all the success The Karate Kid franchise and Cobra Kai have had over the years, Ralph notes that having his daughter appear on the show was "the icing on the cake [and] the cherry on top." "It was certainly a highlight for me in season 4 and just a joy I've had that opportunity," he adds. "Julia showed up for her old man."

After Julia wrapped on set, the father-daughter duo celebrated by snapping a photo together in her trailer, where Julia proudly sported a Mr. Miyagi shirt, a nod to the character played by the late Pat Morita in the Karate Kid movies, and whose spirit looms large throughout Cobra Kai.

"After I wrapped with the best dad in the world!" Julia wrote alongside the photo on Instagram, adding, "(Pat was there with us too ❤️)."

Julia Macchio and Ralph Macchio
Julia Macchio/Instagram

"The character of Miyagi is so weaved into every aspect of the show, he's very present," Julia explains. "Even before working on the set, even just visiting, I could always feel that, whether it was through the scenes or conversations I overheard from different crew members."

Ralph adds, "Both my children feel that way about the legacy of Pat and his influence on my life and the partnership we had and that magic that was captured for the original movie. That's something that was so important to me at the onset of the Cobra Kai series. That was a big part of me moving forward, is knowing that the essence of the Miyagi character would be woven throughout the show and inform the show. Because without that, there truthfully would be no Cobra Kai, without Mr. Miyagi and that relationship from the original film."

Having had that special experience working with Morita in The Karate Kid films, Ralph adds that it's been amazing going on this Cobra Kai journey now with his kids.

(L-R) Julia Macchio, Phyllis Macchio, Ralph Macchio and Daniel Macchio attend the 'Lost Cat Corona' wrap party at Highlight Studios on June 6, 2015 in New York City.
Noam Galai/FilmMagic

"Something I wasn't expecting is just how much both my kids champion this show. It's such a big part of their lives," he says. "They take such pride in it. Something [that was] such a massive part of the early part of my life that is now such a big part of their life that roughly the same age, that's been an amazing reward, something unexpected."

He adds, "It's crazy that I have 10-year-old kids running up to me now, from a totally different perspective than those 10-year-old kids that ran up to me 30 years ago. It's just such a trip for it to be fresh and new and yet nostalgic and comfort food at the same time."

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As for what the future holds for Ralph and Julia, they have plenty more in store.

While Julia has plans to do more TV, film, and theater, Ralph recently wrapped filming on Cobra Kai season 5, which he teases will dive even deeper into the Karate Kid franchise.

"This show is interesting that you could argue sometimes it repeats itself," he says. "But in a way that becomes fresh and you're making left-hand turns and right turns where you thought you'd be going in a different way for the same end result. It's a bag of chips, this show. You take a few bites, and you're like, 'I'm not going to have anymore. No, I got to eat the whole thing.' You just can't put it down."

"We're just trying to entertain and carry on this legacy in a good way," he adds. "It opens up the films and the original the Karate Kid to so many young people. That's awesome, to have done something in 1983, that is top of mind in 2022. Quite unique."

Cobra Kai is streaming now on Netflix.

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