William Zabka has been enjoying misunderstood bully Johnny Lawrence for over 30 years.
Zabka first rose to fame in 1984 because the motorcycle-riding black belt Johnny in “The Karate Kid,” dealing with off in opposition to the film’s hero, new man Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio).
Zabka additionally starred in CBS’ “The Equalizer” from 1986-89, received an Oscar nod in 2004 for co-writing and producing the quick movie “Most” and appeared on “How I Met Your Mother” in 2013.
His newest undertaking “Cobra Kai,” at present on Netflix, revisits “The Karate Kid” franchise and catches up with Johnny and Daniel within the modern-day, the place the previous rivals at the moment are middle-aged males who took vastly completely different paths in life. Daniel is rich and profitable with entitled youngsters; Johnny is an unemployed, divorced drunk. Their paths quickly collide once more.
Zabka, 54, spoke to The Post about revisiting “The Karate Kid,” ’80s nostalgia, Johnny’s redemption and extra.
What made you resolve to do “Cobra Kai?”
I’ve been dwelling with this character in some vogue since 1984, so I’ve had 30 years of it saturating the tradition and taking root in me. I all the time thought there was one thing else to be stated for “The Karate Kid” and Johnny. When [creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald] known as me and stated they’d an concept for a brand new show, they hit me over the pinnacle with “Cobra Kai,” it was very surreal. It was like an outdated girlfriend got here again and wished to get again collectively.
What’s it been prefer to revisit Johnny years down the road?
It’s been a tremendous reconnection. “The Karate Kid” has been an enormous a part of my life for all this time, and to provide him extra dimension and humanity has been thrilling. Johnny is the polar reverse of who I actually am. But within the ending scene of ‘The Karate Kid’ movie when he arms Danny the trophy…I assumed he’s really received a very good core. You’re a product of your upbringing, your setting and mentors. He’s had a tough go at life. He’s attempting to determine issues out and type by his previous and alter and develop. That’s what’s so wonderful to me about what the writers have finished with the character. Johnny is on his path to his personal model of redemption and restoration. The “Cobra Kai” collection is de facto offering that lengthy arc. It’s so satisfying as an actor to play somebody who isn’t all good or dangerous.
Do followers come as much as you numerous?
I’m older now so I don’t look precisely just like the 18-year-old Johnny, however lots of people would come as much as me through the years, like, “Oh you’re that jerk; you’re that dangerous man.” And I’d defend Johnny.
What’s it been prefer to reunite with Ralph Macchio?
We’ve been mates through the years, we [appeared] collectively on “How I Met Your Mother.” The scene [in “Cobra Kai”] when Daniel walks into the dojo for the primary time, we had not been on digicam like that in character for therefore a few years. There was an electrical energy and vitality that was palpable. It’s been unimaginable to discover that once more.
What do you consider the resurgence of ‘80s nostalgia?
I adore it. “Bill and Ted” is coming again, I can’t watch for that. It’s consolation meals in a way. I feel there’s a trick to doing it proper the place it’s recent and unique and doesn’t solely lean on nostalgia. When they pitched me [“Cobra Kai”], they stated, “This show may nonetheless exist with out “The Karate Kid.” It can be like “Bad Sensei,” sort of like [2003 movie] “Bad Santa.” It wasn’t simply grabbing the low-hanging fruit. I feel there’s an actual trick to rebooting one thing to maintain it recent and present so it pertains to at this time.