Why William Zabka Was Hesitant To Show His Children ‘The Karate Kid’

William Zabka

Getty William Zabka talks on a panel during the 2019 San Diego Comic Con.

One of the most popular characters on the acclaimed series “Cobra Kai,” is Johnny Lawrence, portrayed by William “Billy” Zabka. While he has made many mistakes throughout his life, he continually tries to better himself and make amends to those he has hurt, like his son, Robby Keene played by Tanner Buchanan. For this reason, fans can easily  empathize with the martial artist. However, the character is much less likable in the original “Karate Kid” film. He is portrayed as a ruthless bully and beats up the movie’s protagonist, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) to the point of near unconsciousness

William Zabka Recently Revealed That He Was Hesitant To Show His Children “The Karate Kid”

According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, William Zabka recently revealed on the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast that he was previously hesitant to show “The Karate Kid” to his children, ages 11 and 7. He explained that when his eldest child “was five or six,” he had come across “a picture of [Johnny] kicking Daniel LaRusso in the ‘Karate Kid’.”

“[He] said ‘What’s this picture from? Did you fight that boy?’ I’m like, ‘Well, yeah, it was fake, it was pretend, it was a movie.’ He goes, ‘Did you win?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no I didn’t win,'” said Zabka with a laugh. 

The 55-year-old then explained he was in no hurry to introduce his children to a film where he plays a violent and cruel character. 

“I wasn’t really too ready to show my kids me being mean, kicking a guy’s a** against a fence and then getting a crane kick at the end,” said Zabka.

Zabka went on to say that both of his children, whose names have not been publicly released, have visited “the set of ‘Cobra Kai’” and are “ready to see ‘Karate Kid.’” The actor then revealed that they do not seem particularly eager to watch the film. He explained that during their family “movie night[s],” his children “never suggest ‘Karate Kid.’” 

“But they will. They kind of know it through osmosis. I think it’s in their blood. They intuitively know what happens to me at the end of that and they don’t really want to see that train wreck,” quipped Zabka.

William Zabka Shared Similar Comments During a January Interview

Zabka shared similar comments during a January interview on The View. He explained that he “always say[s] if [he] played Daniel LaRusso [his children] would have seen it on day one.” 

“But I don’t want them to see that guy take the crane kick, you know,” said Zabka. 

He then mentioned that his children “love Ralph and Marty Kove [who portrays John Kreese] and the whole cast” of “Cobra Kai.”

While speaking to Esquire in December 2020, Zabka discussed how fatherhood has impacted his performance as Johnny. During the interview, he revealed that before he had biological children, he had “help[ed] raise” his godson.

The paternal part of growing up and getting some years on you stretches your heart. That plays into the show,” said Zabka. 

To see more of Zabka, check out the first three seasons of “Cobra Kai,” available on Netflix. 

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