William Zabka Reveals What He Enjoys Most About Playing Johnny

William Zabka

Getty William Zabka strikes a pose at the premiere of "Where Hope Grows" in 2015.

William “Billy” Zabka starred in “The Karate Kid” as the film’s antagonist, Johnny Lawrence. In the martial arts movie, the Cobra Kai student bullies Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). The two teenagers eventually face-off during the 1984 All Valley Tournament, and Daniel is named the champion. The acclaimed series “Cobra Kai” focuses on Daniel and Johnny’s dynamic with each other as adults. While Johnny has quite a few faults, he attempts to better himself for the sake of his estranged son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), and his beloved karate student, Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña). During a recent live stream posted on the Sony Pictures Television Studios Instagram account, William “Billy” Zabka shared why he appreciates playing Johnny on “Cobra Kai.” 


William Zabka Read Fan Questions to His Castmates During a Recent Live Stream

During the live stream, Zabka read a series of fan questions to his castmates, Xolo Maridueña, Peyton List, and Jacob Bertrand. One of the questions included, “what do you guys like most about your characters?” Bertrand immediately responded that he enjoys portraying the violent Cobra Kai student, Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz, because he “liked playing a bad guy.” 

“I thought that was really fun kind of being the evil guy that was a little unhinged and I got to dye my hair and be crazy for a little bit. That was super fun,” said the actor. 

List shared that she appreciated her character, Tory Nichols, for similar reasons.  

“I think I just would say the same. I think being able to be so shameless and to be able to fight anyone at any given moment and never take the high road, just always take the low road like that has been a very fun thing to play,” said List. 

Maridueña then shared his “favorite thing” about portraying his character “is the relationship with Johnny that Miguel has.” 

“I think it’s cool that I think a lot of kids grow up without a certain parent or without both parents and it’s cool to find a father figure in someone that’s not your actual father. I think that’s super cool,” said Maridueña. 

Zabka shared that he also enjoyed Johnny and Miguel’s dynamic. He then noted that the martial arts instructor is usually down on his luck. 

“I mean my character is just like falling forward constantly, he’s struggling going uphill but, you know, finding solace in like all you guys like vicariously living through the relationship with Miguel especially, love that, you know, that brings out all the dormant parts of Johnny, all these years, all the need he’s had has been fulfilled by his relationship with Miguel and then all of the offshoots. It’s good. Johnny has a long way to go and I like that because it’s fun,” said Zabka. 


William Zabka Discussed Johnny’s Dynamic With Daniel During The Planet Comicon Kansas City

During an April 2021 appearance at the Planet Comicon Kansas City, alongside his “Cobra Kai” co-star Martin Kove, Zabka revealed if he had a particular fondness for any of the scenes on the show. He noted that he enjoyed the moment from season 1, episode 9, where Daniel and Johnny spent the day together 

“I love working also with Ralph, the Johnny, Daniel rivalry and the butting of heads. So I like doing some of the driving scenes with Daniel. Those are fun, REO Speedwagon and The Nuts and all that,” said the actor. 

He also shared that he believes Johnny and Daniel are quite similar, despite being long-time rivals. 

“You know, these guys are different but same. They really are so similar in so many ways but they just have completely different programs downloaded into them,” explained Zabka. 

READ NEXT: Fans Can Vacation at Daniel LaRusso’s Mansion From ‘Cobra Kai’ Soon


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