William Zabka AKA Johnny Lawrence Returns to Face his Foe in The YouTube Red Series, COBRA KAI
Sure you know William Zabka as an actor from The Karate Kid, appearances on How I Met Your Mother, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, and Hot Tub Time Machine. He’s also an Oscar-winning writer/producer for the short film, Most.
If you were team Johnny or team Daniel, either way, you’ll get a delightful and heartfelt continuance of a story we’ve all wanted, for a very long time in the YouTube Red series, COBRA KAI. The series is now available on Youtube Red.
Legion Of Leia: Can you tell us about the process of getting involved with Cobra Kai? How involved were you in the creative process?
William Zabka: Well, I had worked with Josh Heald on Hot Tub Time Machine and John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg visited the set, one day, and we actually talked about doing Harold and Kumar part 2 or 3, I think it was. Josh, it was September of 2016 now, emailed me out of the blue and said would you like to have lunch with Josh Hayden and I, we have something to discuss with you. Never imagining that it would be Karate Kid related. So we went out to lunch and before we could order, they pitched me over four bags of chips and these guys were a machine! 1,2,3 they picked up where the other left off and they pretty much sold me in about a half hour, over chips. Then I said the thing is its Karate Kid. There’s Sony, Overbrook, all these entities that have to sign off on this, they said, they’ve all signed off. Ralph and I were about to sign off on a different project then, and we said we’re going to have to put this project on hold, this could be something. Josh, John, and Hayden incredibly got their heads around The Karate Kid and creating all the time between then and now. What they pitched me got written and shot and it’s super, super exciting! It was a very, very collaborative process.
Legion of Leia: As far as paying homage or remembering Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi, how will that be addressed? The ideas and themes of mentorship were so huge in The Karate Kid and in this one with Johnny Lawrence opening the Dojo…
William Zabka: Absolutely. The essence of Miyagi is in the show. You know, he was Daniel’s mentor and what Daniel was going through at this point in this life and he missing this sort of father figure, he’s having to reach deep inside and find the Miyagi in himself. So, we’ll sense him.
Legion of Leia: How about for yourself, personally? Is there anyone that guided you or who mentored you throughout your career or your life?
William Zabka: Wow, that’s a long list…
Legion of Leia: Well, there’s always somebody…
William Zabka: Definitely! I had a youth leader that was like a big brother in a way and introduced me to outdoors stuff and I continued that in life and he was my first mentor who was just a great guy who knew how to love life and have fun and was always there for us, and then later on in life, Pat Johnson who was the choreographer of Karate Kid. He became very much like a father and a mentor. He really built in Johnny Lawrence in the world of martial arts.
Legion of Leia: How much of that did you take with you?
William Zabka: From the Karate Kid I went into training with Pat Johnson privately for a while, then got pulled out for some more martial arts films. But, yes I continued on with my training for a number of years.
Legion of Leia: You’ve mentioned over the years that the other Cobra Kai guys are some of your best friends. Will they be making an appearance, or is it a strictly Johnny Lawrence show?
William Zabka: I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. I can’t say anything! It was like a fraternity, some really deep bonds.
Legion of Leia: Lastly, I want to touch on how funny Cobra Kai is. It seems to organically work, the guys writing and your delivery, it hits perfectly. It was a joy to watch.
William Zabka: Thank you! That’s so nice to hear. I agree, there’s definitely a lot of comedy but there’s also so much heart. It’s a true continuation of the story, it was time. It’s an exciting, timely show.
Legion of Leia: It didn’t miss a beat.
William Zabka: Thank you. That’s so great to hear.