The screen test is one of the first chances an actor has to make a strong impression on camera. We’ve explored classic Hollywood screen tests before, and after seeing several new videos pop up online — Kate Winslet’s Titanic and Audrey Tautou’s international smash Amélie amongst them — we wanted to explore the origins of our favorite films that broke box office records and stretched the limits of epic moviemaking experiences. We feature Winslet’s video and a variety of other screen tests for blockbuster movies past the break. It’s a chance to see popular stars, who always appear so glamorously surefooted, build the framework for the movies that made them famous in a smaller, bare-bones setting. Click through for a peek at the casts of Star Wars, The Karate Kid, and other blockbuster greats as they flaunt their stuff in these early test footage tapes.
Ralph Macchio was 23 years old when the martial arts underdog story The Karate Kid hit theaters in 1984, but in this screen test he looks about 12. The actor tried out for the part of high school senior Daniel LaRusso, and although auditions lasted for several weeks, he made a big impression almost immediately. This screen test has been intercut with that of Pat Morita, who played the part of Daniel’s karate coach and surrogate father, Mr. Miyagi. They rehearse the scene when Daniel is tormented by his classmates, and the humble handyman swoops in to intervene. The studio was initially hesitant to hire Morita for the part due to his previous comedic role on Happy Days, but he delivers his lines pitch perfect. The actor went on to win an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting star. Charlie Sheen was one of the big names that turned down the part of Daniel, but Macchio’s test proves why he was the best actor for the part.