Clint Eastwood hated Coca-Cola because of the Karate Kid
Eastwood's son, Kyle, almost played Daniel LaRusso.
In 1965, Clint Eastwood stopped being Rowdy Yates and started being the star of Spaghetti Western mythology. By the time Rawhide ended, Eastwood was in the middle of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy. By the following year, with the release of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Eastwood's career would change forever, elevating to that next level of superstardom and changing the Western genre forever.
With that clout came more opportunity. As Eastwood's profile swelled, so did his curiosity. His interests shifted toward directing, and he slowly built a resume as a profitable filmmaker of some acclaim. Eastwood would eventually direct and release movies like The Outlaw Josie Wales and Sudden Impact, the fourth film in his Dirty Harry series. All the while, Eastwood was proving himself to be a bankable director who could be trusted with major projects.
But Clint wasn't the only one in the Eastwood household with Hollywood ambition. Eastwood's eldest son, Kyle, made his acting debut in Honkytonk Man and had his eyes set on an even bigger follow-up.
In a 2007 interview with The Guardian, Kyle Eastwood confirmed his franchise aspirations, mentioning one of the biggest movies of the '80s as a near-miss.
"I was actually willing to do [this part]. My father [...] had mentioned it to me and said he thought it was an interesting part. He ended up passing the script on to somebody else and it ended up becoming The Karate Kid."
While that may be how Kyle Eastwood remembers that time, Clint Eastwood's then-partner Sondra Locke has a different recollection.
Sondra Locke wrote about the Karate Kid situation in her memoir, The Good, The Bad & The Very Ugly. Her memories contrast with Kyle Eastwood's. Specifically, Locke mentions that the decision not to move forward with Kyle in The Karate Kid came from Columbia Pictures. The studio had recently been purchased by the Coca-Cola Company and remained a part of the soda corporation's portfolio until 1989.
"Clint had agreed to direct Karate Kid for Columbia only if Kyle played the lead, but they refused. Clint forever more banned Coca-Cola from his sight."
Because of how strong The Karate Kid's script was, the role of Daniel LaRusso was highly sought-after in Hollywood. Actors like Charlie Sheen and Robert Downey Jr. auditioned to play the character. Eventually, the role went to Ralph Macchio.