On the acclaimed series Cobra Kai, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William “Billy” Zabka) exhibit impressive martial arts skills, despite both being in their 50s. This may have led some fans to wonder if the actors who portray them do their own stunts for the show.
The Show’s Stunt Coordinators Revealed if the Cast Does Their Own Stunts
During an exclusive interview with Heavy, Cobra Kai’s stunt coordinators Jahnel Curfman and Hiro Koda revealed that the cast, including Zabka and Macchio, do quite a bit of stunt work.
Koda clarified that the show does have stunt doubles for “liability” reasons.
“And you know, to have one of our actors take a fall, even though they may be capable of it — or even to do the choreography over and over again, you know, you’re going to get through a couple of scenes, and they’re going to be spent, and they still have a whole day to shoot. So it really is also about preserving them so that they’re fresh and energetic for the acting, which is also incredibly important,” added Curfman, with a laugh.
The stunt woman also noted that Zabka, Macchio, and Martin Kove, who plays John Kreese, are set in their ways when it comes to stunt work.
“The younger cast is definitely more up to try new things whereas the seasoned cast, you know, they sort of have what they know they’re good at, and they like to stick with those things,” revealed Curfman.
The Actors Talked About Working With Curfman & Koda
While speaking to Comic Book Resources in December 2020, Zabka and Macchio talked about the stunt coordinators.
Macchio noted that Curfman and Koda “really have their work cut out for them” because they are limited time to “really [balance] a ton of fight coordinating and stunt coordinating.”
“[T]hey really do an exceptional job and the actors do as well,” said the 59-year-old.
Macchio also went on to compliment the show’s stunt doubles. He told the publication:
The stunt guys, the doubles are spectacular, but our first team really, really works hard. They want to be in all that stuff, and it’s really down to a dance.
Zabka then noted that the stunt coordinators are “a factory of ideas.”
“It’s amazing the number of fights we have and the number of fights they have come up in script and to come up with individual moves based on every single character and keep it innovative and fresh and not copy and repeat things. They have an endless well of moves and knowledge,” said the 55-year-old.
In a April 2019 interview with Men’s Health, Zabka, who has a background in martial arts, discussed training for the fight sequences on the show.
“Coming back to Cobra Kai had me jump back in real hard, so I could be camera ready. Karate is like riding a bike—you jump back into it, although your joints can be a little bit different as your muscles can get sore,” said the actor.
The publication noted that Zabka had an intense exercise regimen and a strict “lean protein and vegetables diet” to stay in shape for Cobra Kai.
To see more of Zabka and Macchio, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available on Netflix.