William Zabka Reveals Why Ali Mills Is So Significant in ‘Cobra Kai’

Johnny & Ali

YouTube Johnny and Ali take a picture together in "Cobra Kai" season 3.

In the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid,” Johnny Lawrence (William “Billy” Zabka) does not take his break up with Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) well. After she expresses interest in Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), the Cobra Kai student decides to violently bully him.

In the acclaimed series “Cobra Kai,” the audience becomes aware that Johnny has lingering feelings for his ex-girlfriend. In season 2, episode 6, titled “Take a Right,” the sensei talks about Ali to his friend and former Cobra Kai teammate Tommy (Rob Garrison). He shares that he does not “think [he] really got over her” and was unable to “let [his] guard down with any” other woman he dated. After contacting her on Facebook, Johnny meets up with Ali during the show’s third season. The former couple goes on a lunch date and enjoys each others’ company at Golf N’ Stuff. While sitting together, they nearly kiss and later attend a holiday party at the Encino Oaks Country Club, where they spend time with Daniel and his wife, Amanda (Courtney Henggeler). During this interaction, Ali suggests that the martial artists “are more alike than [they] want to admit.” 

William Zabka Spoke About Ali’s Significance During a Recent Interview

While speaking on a recent Deadline panel, alongside Ralph Macchio, and the creators of “Cobra Kai,” Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg, William “Billy” Zabka discussed Ali’s significance in Johnny’s life. The actor described their Golf N’ Stuff date as a “big plot device, character turn for Johnny that he could revisit his youth,” which was important as he was suffering after his son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) causes Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) to be hospitalized. 

“She unlocked him in many ways. You know, Johnny starts season 3 in the dumps, he’s drunk in a bar and you know, his student is injured. She comes back and kind of rehabilitates him and puts a little piece of his broken heart back in his chest, which is empowering for the character,” explained the 55-year-old. 

Zabka noted that he also appreciated when Ali “points out the similarities between these two guys” at the country club. 

“Johnny and Daniel both have a big blind spot and put together and working correctly they would be a force and she sees that. That’s a big deal,” shared the father-of-two. 

He noted that after Ali’s talk, Johnny and Daniel act cordially toward each other, which is rare for the karate instructors. 

“At the end they are all having a memory storm at the table and having drinks and saying this and that and waking themselves up a bit, you know, at the end Daniel has his closure with her and Johnny has his closure with her and it gets a ‘Merry Christmas, Daniel’ out of Johnny and a ‘Merry Christmas, Johnny’ out of Daniel so it was great. I think it evened things. It kind of reset things for the character, for Johnny in many ways,” stated the actor. 

William Zabka Spoke About Johnny & Ali in January 2021

In a January 2021 interview on SiriusXM’s Faction Talk, Zabka spoke about the fact that his character does not rekindle his romance with Ali on “Cobra Kai.” In fact, his ex-girlfriend tells him to settle down with Miguel’s mother, Carmen (Vanessa Rubio). 

“It definitely had the potential of being more than that and there was that almost kiss that got interrupted. I think the writers made the right choice on that but I think what it did, it showed like a younger version of Johnny and more his innocence, where he came from with that love and that they’ve grown up and matured and now kind of set each other free in a way and she especially sets him free to go to Carmen,” said the actor. 

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