William “Billy” Zabka portrayed Daniel LaRusso’s antagonist Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II. Since 2018, he has played the iconic character in the acclaimed series Cobra Kai.
Pat Morita Shared an Unusual ‘Karate Kid’ Sequel Idea With Zabka
During a 2020 interview with Collider, Zabka stated that before he was pitched the show, he had been approached with different ways to revisit Johnny’s storyline.
“I had so many people that had ideas for Johnny Lawrence teaming up with Miyagi,” said the actor.
He went on to say that he pitched an idea for The Karate Kid Part V by the actor who played Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita.
“Actually, you know, what my favorite one was really. Pat Morita himself had an idea. He wasn’t done with Miyagi yet, and this was in his, you know, last years,” said the 55-year-old.
The actor recalled that his late co-star “called” him, saying, ‘’B.Z. B.Z., I have a great idea for a Karate Kid 4, you know, a Karate Kid 5. You know, I want — Miyagi’s going to die.’”
“And he wanted him to have a proper Okinawan burial, but while he’s sick, he saw Johnny Lawrence as being his doctor,” explained Zabka.
While the pitch never came to fruition, the actor said that he enjoyed Morita’s unexpected idea.
“And I thought that was interesting. That was probably actually the wildest idea I couldn’t imagine coming from Pat Morita. It was awesome,” asserted the actor.
During the same interview, Zabka discussed being approached by Cobra Kai’s creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg to star in the show.
“They just had they had the map of where Karate Kid goes from here and they laid it out, and I walked away from that meeting and I felt like Johnny Lawrence could open one crusty eye, you know, and they were bringing him back to life and they did it that. So it was really the right guys and the right timing,” said the father-of-two.
Ralph Macchio Has Also Talked About Being Pitched Ideas for ‘Karate Kid’ Sequels
Zabka is not the only Cobra Kai cast member who received unusual Karate Kid revival pitches. In a 2019 interview with Business Insider, the “Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio noted that he was taken aback by one particular idea.
“Everyone would come up with the pitch of, ‘You have a kid, and you become the Miyagi to your kid.’ Everyone thought that was the brilliant continuation,” said Macchio. “But an executive once came up to me and John Avildsen, the director of ‘Karate Kid,’ and took it a step further. It was very off the cuff, but he said, ‘Hey, what if Rocky Balboa and LaRusso had kids and they are related in some way?’ Because Avildsen directed ‘Rocky,’ so that’s the connection.”
Macchio revealed that he and the late director had a polite response to the pitch.
“Me and Avildsen just looked at each other and went to the guy: ‘Well, you get back to us.’ But inside you’re like, ‘How is this even possible?'” stated the actor.
To see more of Zabka and Macchio, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available on Netflix.