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The original Karate Kid film came out nearly 40 years ago. Now, spin-off series Cobra Kai is capturing critical acclaim, alongside the hearts of multiple generations. Correspondent for The Advocate Channel Rachel Smith recently sat down with the series' leads to discuss what it's like to return after four decades.

Ralph Macchio, who starred in The Karate Kid as Daniel LaRusso, shared that the success of the show has been life-changing.

"We're not taking it for granted," he said. "Understanding that at this age, in this time -- how rare and unique this scenario is. There are few examples of that, where a movie from 1984 becomes a hit show in 2022. And you have three, sometimes four generations enjoying the same content."

William Zabka, who played antagonist Johnny Lawrence in the film, expressed gratitude that the movie and show could affect people of all ages, especially given 40 years have passed since the original.

"These characters meant so much to people when Karate Kid' first came out. They were kids that grew up, now they have their kids. And it's neat to be part of that," Zabka said.

Cobra Kai follows the rivalry between Daniel and Johnny continued from the first film as they transition from student to teacher at their opposing karate dojos. The series also stars Peyton List, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, and Jacob Bertrand.

While he was not involved in the series until the third Karate Kid movie, Thomas Ian Griffith reprised his role as antagonist Terry Silver in the latest seasons of Cobra Kai. He shared that the franchise has changed his life, as it even kickstarted his acting career.

"Karate Kid three was my first film acting role," Griffith said. "To be able to come back and reprise this role -- and do it with all these new colors and all these new dimensions the creators brought to these characters -- it's just been a joy."

Yuji Okumoto, Chozen Toguchi in the Karate Kid II, agreed with Griffith's sentiments, saying: "It's a blessing. I can't believe that after 30 years, we're being reunited. It's such a wonderful experience to see all the familiar faces, and I can't imagine not being part of this."

As for the younger actors in the new series, they all share that their mentors have helped to direct them on- and off-screen. Xolo MaridueƱa, who stars in Cobra Kai as Miguel Diaz, revealed that Zabka and Macchio have been essential guides for the cast.

"[Zabka] really does a great job of not taking things too seriously, or not taking himself too seriously. I think, especially with the type of show we have, that it's important to be fun, and -- you know, some people say campy," MaridueƱa said. "[Zabka] does a great job of bringing his character to life for everyone, not just when they yell 'action.' He's so welcoming and so warm, and it rubs off on everyone."

Catch Rachel's interview with the cast of Cobra Kai below.

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