‘Cobra Kai’ Star William Zabka Says There’s 1 Movie Where He Didn’t Play a Bully

Cobra Kai may be the first time audiences have seen William Zabka play a sympathetic character. The show took his Karate Kid character, Johnny Lawrence, and made him a hero, albeit sometimes a misguided one. It isn’t Zabka’s first anti-heel turn, but his earlier one was hardly as well seen as Cobra Kai.

William Zabka points at Jacob Bertrand
L-R: William Zabka and Jacob Bertrand | Netflix

Zabka was a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast on May 31. As they discussed his career, Zabka mentioned the one movie where he didn’t play a bully or A-hole during his legendary run of ’80s characters. 

The movie after ‘The Karate Kid’ where William Zabka played a nice guy

Zabka had a good run playing bullies in the ‘80s. After The Karate Kid, he did Just One of the Guys, European Vacation and Back to School. But, in A Tiger’s Tale he was just a good kid. C. Thomas Howell stars as a teenager who falls for his girlfriend’s mother (Ann-Margaret). Zabka plays another student on the football team.

Tiger's Tale: C. Thomas Howell in bed wtih Ann-Margaret
C. Thomas Howell and Ann-Margret | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“I did a movie no one ever saw called A Tiger’s Tale which is one of my favorite movies,” Zabka told Maron. “It just didn’t get a good release with Ann-Margaret, Tommy Howell and Kelly Preston, Anne Wedgeworth, Charles Durning, great cast. It was the first movie after that sequence of bad guys where I played a different type of role, country football player.”

William Zabka put his heart and soul into this role 

Zabka learned Karate for The Karate Kid. For A Tiger’s Tale he delved into the world of high school football. Unfortunately, the film is not streaming at press time, or even available on DVD.

“I had high hopes for that to present myself in a new way, gained 50 pounds of muscle, whatever, not 50 lbs,” Zabka said. “I was 205 lbs. After being 185 for Karate Kid, I thought that would be something but look, I got to a point. My thing is if you’re not loving it, don’t do it. My dad always said find something you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

William Zabka had a soul searching moment long before ‘Cobra Kai’

After the disappointment of A Tiger’s Tale’s release, Zabka still had a job on The Equalizer as Rober McCall (Edward Woodward)’s son. Zabka said he reached a point where work began to feel more like a job and he had to do something about it. 

Cobra Kai Season 3: Johnny Lawrence gets dressed up for Ali
William Zabka | Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

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There was a moment, and I don’t remember where exactly, but I remember being on set and saying this is becoming work and I’m not having fun. I don’t know when that was because up to that point, it was just a novelty. It was just a great ride. There was one point where I’m thinking I’m doing this now because I kind of have to, because it’s happened to me. I don’t know where it was. I wish I did. It might’ve been The Equalizer in the last season, somewhere where I just remember sitting in my chair waiting for things to happen and I was antsy. I want to do something else. For some reason. That moment of hey, this isn’t fun anymore, didn’t sustain. It just informed me there’s more to me right now and I want to explore that.

William Zabka, WTF with Marc Maron, 5/31/21

Source: WTF with Marc Maron

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