Cobra Kai has been immensely popular since its release on Netflix. The action-packed karate drama takes the viewers on an incredible ride of emotions, life lessons, and believable fight sequences. However, another major reason for the show’s popularity is the nostalgic element attached to it.
The new story is a delight for the fans of The Karate Kid film series. This show takes place three decades later and casts the original main leads of the movie, Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence. Their old rivalry is still intact and the fight scenes between the two are a nostalgic treat for the fans. However, our beloved actors are close friends in real life. Let us have an in-depth look at their friendship.
Ralph Macchio and William Zabka’s off-screen friendship
The two proud Senseis of their respective dojos might showcase a never-ending rivalry and exchange blows from time to time in the series. However, their antics in real life prove that they are close friends. During an interview on The Jenny McCarthy show in 2019, William Zabka conveyed he shares a strong bond with his Cobra Kai co-star, Ralph Macchio, as the result of having similar backgrounds.
“We’re both from New York. I was actually born in the city and lived in Long Island till I was a kid. He’s from Long Island,” said the actor. Furthermore, he revealed that their off-screen antics were quite fun. “We’ll drive home. We’ll have the same complaints, the same thoughts, you know, so… We drive, you know, we get lost together, crank the music together,” said the Karate Kid star.
Though they are close friends now, the actors revealed they considered themselves mere acquaintances during the filming of The Karate Kid. While being interviewed on a panel for SiriusXM radio, Zabka stated they used to have awkward lunches on The Karate Kid set.
“Yeah, they kept us apart, but we were training different styles… So it was more by default by training. I was trained in Korean, and he was trained in Okinawan. But we came together every day and did our fight — our final fight and practiced that,” said Zabka.
He also hinted that the director of the movie, John Avildsen, wanted to avoid the two actors being soft with each other to showcase authenticity during the film’s fight scenes. “I mean John didn’t want us to get chummy… He encouraged me to hang out with the Cobra Kais where I belonged apparently,” the actor added.
Pat Morita’s sad demise brought Ralph and Zabka closer as friends
In a joint interview with Rotten Tomatoes in 2019, Macchio mentioned that his bond with Zabka grew stronger after the sad demise of the Karate Kid co-star, Pat Morita, who played the iconic role of Mr. Miyagi. “We’ve become closer friends over the years, certainly since Pat — when Pat passed away we became closer friends just through the loss of him and moving forward and the fact that this film has stood the test of time,” said Macchio.
Zabka also weighed in on this statement on an interview with Esquire in December 2020. “After the film, we were young, we went our different ways. We bumped into each other at a screening here and there. But I remember it being Pat’s funeral where we reconnected,” said Zabka.
During the interview, when asked about how the late actor, Pat Morita, would have felt about Cobra Kai, both had their own versions of a delightful answer. “He would love it. He’s shining down on us with a big smile. On top of everything else, he’s our friend, you know? So he’s happy for his friends. Same thing with John Avildsen, our director. Without them, we’re not doing this,” said Macchio while William answered, “He would be having a blast with this. He’s the soul of Miyagi-do, the wise Yoda that’s maybe not with us, but still with us.”
The two fan-favorite characters of Cobra Kai and Karate Kid share a great bond between them. What are your views on the two actors?
All seasons of Cobra Kai are streaming on Netflix.