In the 1984 film “The Karate Kid” and the acclaimed series “Cobra Kai,” sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) causes quite a few problems for Johnny Lawrence (William “Billy” Zabka). As Kove convincingly plays Zabka’s karate rival, some fans may be curious how the actors feel about each other in real life.
William Zabka & Ralph Macchio Discussed Martin Kove in August 2021
In August 2021, William Zabka and Ralph Macchio, who plays Daniel LaRusso, were interviewed by Kristen Baldwin, an Entertainment Weekly television critic, to benefit the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Zabka shared that he enjoyed working alongside Kove.
“I love working with Marty. It’s just he’s a teddy bear and he’s a lot of fun,” said the 55-year-old.
He then clarified that while he feels that the 75-year-old actor is “a teddy bear,” Kove has “a lot of John Kreese in him.”
“It’s great, we turn the light switch on and he becomes Kreese and I become Johnny, the same with Daniel and Johnny and everybody. Something else happens, we just go into an alternate universe in a way and go and live there and pop back out. It’s great, so Marty’s amazing,” explained Zabka.
The 55-year-old then discussed how it is to have Kove as a scene partner during the fight sequences in “Cobra Kai.”
“I love working with him and fighting with him, although he’s a little slow on the moves. Here’s one really quick thing — we had one fight and he moved a little slower than I did on my advance and my toe jammed into his big old monster foot and completely jammed and nobody knew it. My stunt guy is over there ready to take over if I don’t finish the fight and I’m like limping over and I literally pulled my toe out and I’m like okay, I gotta go a little slower on Marty,” shared the actor.
Zabka also noted that despite the fact that Kove is in his mid-70s, “he’s very eager [and] he’s very determined” while doing stunts for the show.
“He wants to do his best, he’s really serious about fighting. He really wants to do the karate and you know, he’s a little older than us and he’s in there working, working hard, you know, he’s in the gym every day, yeah, he works so hard,” said Zabka.
Macchio shared similar comments about Kove.
“He puts a tremendous amount of time and work on the physical aspect because he wants to be like we all do, you know, you want to deliver. And sometimes the brain is working quicker than the body and vice versa,” explained the “My Cousin Vinny” star.
William Zabka Spoke About His Injury During a September 2021 Panel
During a September 2021 panel at the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, alongside Kove and Jacob Bertrand, who plays Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz, Zabka provided more details about injuring his foot while performing a fight scene with Kove.
“I jammed my toe in Marty’s foot in our fight in season 2 when he picks up the fight. We had rehearsed that a million times and we did it at top speed and I was advancing too quickly and he didn’t step out of the way in time and he has these giant feet that are like bricks … and my toe jammed in and a shriek went up my leg like that like an electric shock and you know, there’s a stunt guy waiting to step in and take over if I’m not going to finish it or whatever but I didn’t tell anyone because I wanted to finish it so I hobbled over to a corner and just popped it out,” shared Zabka.
Kove then complimented Zabka’s martial arts skills.
“Billy’s really a good martial artist, I mean, you do fight scenes, I’ve done a bunch of fight scenes with him and I’m always getting my a** kicked even when I’m supposed to win. You know, because he’s fast, he’s very fast,” said the “Last House on the Left” actor.