Ralph Macchio and William Zabka Talk About Reprising Their KARATE KID Roles in COBRO KAI and Offer New Story Details

Last week we learned that The Karate Kid was getting a prequel series called Cobra Kai. The series takes place 30 years after the events of the original film and Ralph Macchio and William Zabka are reprising their role of Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence! This series could seriously end up being one of the best things ever!

The series was previously described as revolving “around a down and out Johnny who, seeking redemption, reopens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo. It reignites his rivalry with a now-successful Daniel, who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita).” The show is also said to follow the duo “addressing demons from their past and present frustrations — through (what else?) karate.”

The two actors, who have remained friends over the years, appeared on stage together and talked about the upcoming series and explained why they both ultimately signed off on it. Macchio said:

What made me say yes after all these years — and I’ve been very protective of the franchise and where Daniel LaRusso sits in the world 30 years later — these guys, Josh, Hayden and Jon had such a smart and fresh angle in. It was relevant today yet had all the pop culture — they had the perfect marriage and angle in bringing it from the Johnny Lawrence [point of view]. It’s not unlike how Creed was a film that was about Apollo Creed’s son but you had Rocky Balboa in it in a certain way. [Cobra Kai] is not the first time anyone looks at a fresh angle from the villain’s point of view, but it was just smart to go that way and to cover these dual lives and do a rivalry series in a smart and funny way, and on top of that infuse the high school world — which is a big part of the show as well — for the new generation.”

He goes on to offer additional details on the story, saying:

“Johnny befriends one [of Daniel’s kids], and that is how it connects that world into our own rivalry world. There’s a tremendous amount of heart and kick-ass action sequences and martial arts, but the inherent humor comes from the fact that these are two guys who are in their 50s and still have an ax to grind. It goes back to those places where you just can’t let go and you’re still a teenager at heart and yet balancing your adult life — it’s like the rise of the Cobra Kai. It’s the worst nightmare for someone like Daniel LaRusso.”

If you’re wondering about Mr. Miyagi, and his role in the story, his spirit will certainly be there. Macchio talks about how Mr. Miyagi’s absence has left a void in his life. He explains:

“In the early stages of us pitching to the networks, it was really important to me to have that element and that void that’s in Daniel’s life right now. He used to train his oldest daughter when she was a kid, but now she’s at the age where it’s not as cool to hang out with dad. So there’s a real void in his life when he doesn’t have that. Mr. Miyagi is the human Yoda to young Luke Skywalker. So as an adult and a parent — my kids are in their 20s now — I would love to have had Mr. Miyagi’s wisdom many times in raising my own kids. There’s a piece of that void in his life that is going to resonate on the dramatic side of the show and where martial arts, [which] was such a piece of his adolescence and young adulthood, is now brought back by the nemesis raising the banner on the Cobra Kai. And now Daniel can’t sit and let that happen.”

Zabka went on to talk about their characters and how the rivalry between them is still there. He also says that the series will explore Johnny’s backstory, and give us some insight into where he came from when he was a teenager.

“They’ve gone on with their lives, but that rivalry is always still there. It’s like a football game you lost in high school but the whole world saw it. It’s always there: ‘If only I just did this…’

“Through this show, you get to see who he was and where he came from. I never saw Johnny as a bad guy; I always saw him as the antagonist but at his core, he had a good heart. At the beginning of the first movie, he said he had one year to make it all work and that’s what he wanted to do. He was an ex-degenerate. Then LaRusso comes in town and turns his world upside down. At the very end, he hands him a trophy and says, ‘You’re all right, LaRusso.’ He has a good heart and they tap into that in the show. You’re going to empathize with him. He’s still tough and rough around the edges, but it’s a really smart and fun take on it and I think it’ll be really entertaining.”

The more that I learn about the series the better it sounds! This Cobra Kai show really seems like it’s going to be something special. I can’t wait to see watch it when it’s released next year on YouTube Red!