Ralph Macchio News: The 1983 film “The Outsiders” by Francis Ford Coppola walks the line between great style and faithful adaptation of the source material.
This film, adapted from S.E. Hinton’s famous 1967 book of the same name, combined period details (such as the use of actors from Hollywood’s “Brat Pack“) with masterful storytelling skills.
The “Socs” were the wealthy youth of 1960s Oklahoma, and the “greasers” were a bunch of down-and-out Oklahomans who tried to behave like them.
Coppola’s directorial style became legendary in the film industry. On the set of his 1979 Vietnam War blockbuster “Apocalypse Now,” the director almost went crazy trying to perfect every scene with authentic details.
Actors in “The Outsiders” were mainly permitted to rely on their initiative in terms of craft, with the explicit instruction to study the lives of the film’s protagonists, who are often dealt with unfavorable circumstances, to bring them to life.
Ralph Macchio, who portrayed greaser Johnny Cade at age 20, did some severe study for his role.
Ralph Macchio performed uncomfortable research to portray his character accurately.
Ralph Macchio’s role in the film is from a poor home where spousal violence is commonplace.
Johnny is his best buddy, C. Thomas Howell’s greaser character, Ponyboy Curtis, and the two of them share the dream of escaping their little town and starting over.
Though both Johnny and Ponyboy are poor, the familial relationship in Johnny’s story is less cohesive than that of Ponyboy.
When Francis Ford Coppola told the cast and crew to “capture authenticity,” Macchio, then 12 years old, took the advice to heart.
In an interview with Parade Magazine published in 2017, he said that Coppola had forced him to experience daily life with a budget of just $4 so that he might understand the plight of the poor.
As Macchio continued elaborating, “Like Johnny, I once endured a night of sleeping outdoors beneath a pile of newspapers and can attest to its unpleasantness. Over time, I started walking with my toes turned inwards.”
Given that Johnny Cade, in both the novel and the film, is a very introverted and introspective character, it seems sensible that during the two weeks of rehearsal before production, Macchio would keep his distance from the other actors (via Variety). It was drastic, to be sure, but the results are undeniable.