If you’re a Netflix subscriber, August 28th is a very big day because that’s when Cobra Kai Seasons 1 and 2 debut on the platform. The show originally ran on YouTube Premiere, but with the company pivoting away from scripted original programming, Cobra Kai needed a new home and I’m of the belief it couldn’t have scored a better one.
For anyone out there still skeptical about the revival of a classic like The Karate Kid, it is a true thrill to tell you that not only does Cobra Kai continue Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence’s (William Zabka) stories in meaningful ways, but it also brings their lessons learned to a stellar young ensemble. At the beginning of the series, Johnny is in a rough place. He’s bitter, divorced, doesn’t have a job and, on top of that, he’s basically haunted by Daniel’s win at the All-Valley tournament courtesy of the billboards for LaRusso Auto Group. It isn’t until Johnny’s neighbor, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), convinces him to teach him karate that Johnny realizes the return of Cobra Kai might be just what he needs.
That description barely scratches the surface of what Seasons 1 and 2 of Cobra Kai have to offer, but the hope is that this chat with Johnny Lawrence himself, William Zabka, has a little something for everyone. If you need a little more convincing before committing to Cobra Kai or you’re already a hardcore fan looking for Season 3 teases, the video interview at the top of this article should have you covered!
On top of that, Zabka also looked back on the making of the original Karate Kid, specifically filming the unforgettable moment when Johnny hands Daniel his trophy and tells him, “You’re alright, LaRusso! Good match.” Zabka called that particular beat of the movie “the Billy in Johnny” and detailed the vibe on set:
“I was kind of pregnant with that moment for the entire time we were filming. Knowing that was coming, it allowed me to be as vicious and mean and tough and as Johnny as I could be til the end, and then Johnny wakes up. I remember filming that moment like it was yesterday. It was after the whole tournament. We did this big master shot of the full on fight. It wasn’t shot in pieces. It was nine, ten cameras around and the tournament, we went from A to Z, and that moment was captured I think in one of the master takes and it was just alive. The audience/fans were there. All that added energy and electricity to that moment, and the emotion. Plus my mom and dad were in the stands, and I remember when I was doing the fight scene, I was on my knees when they said, ‘Turn around,’ and Daniel was hurt. Everybody was booing at me, even when the cameras weren’t rolling. I look up in the stands and my mom’s like, ‘It’s my son! He’s a nice guy!’ So I was kind of carrying a lot of emotion. The audience there was like live theater and they were all a part of it, so they fed that moment. So I remember that and it was very much a cathartic moment for me as an actor to let that go because that, to me, was the true heart of Johnny Lawrence.”
If you’d like to hear more from Zabka about the surprising Karate Kid sequel pitch he got from Pat Morita, to see him take a question from Cobra Kai star Mary Mouser, to find out more about where Johnny’s head is at at the start of Season 3 and more, check out the full conversation at the top of this article!
- 00:25 – Zabka talks about the move to Netflix from his perspective; was there ever a moment when he thought the show might not find a new home?
- 03:05 – Zabka looks back on filming the scene in Karate Kid when Johnny hands Daniel the trophy.
- 05:10 – Is there anything about the way they shot Karate Kid that they can apply to Cobra Kai today?
- 05:50 – Zabka shares the Karate Kid sequel pitch he got from Pat Morita.
- 07:36 – A Cobra Kai question from Mary Mouser to Zabka.
- 09:18 – Is there anything else from the original Karate Kid that didn’t make the final cut that Zabka wants to see pop up in Cobra Kai? Maybe the scene he first auditioned with?
- 11:14 – Zabka highlights the incredible ensemble of Cobra Kai.
- 12:57 – Who does Zabka think has the most to learn from Johnny at this point in the show?
- 14:03 – Zabka teases where Johnny’s head is at at the very beginning of Cobra Kai Season 3.
- 15:39 – Zabka teases the characters Johnny will get more screen time with in Season 3.
- 17:02 – Zabka revisits getting an Academy Award nomination.
- 19:45 – Does he have any interest in directing an episode of Cobra Kai?