To say things have changed for Netflix's Cobra Kai star William Zabka would be an understatement. Prior to the series' revival initially on YouTube Red, the actor's character of Johnny Lawrence wasn't as endearing with his appearances in the first two Karate Kid films since the franchise focused on rival Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and his sensei Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). Appearing on WTF with Marc Maron via The Hollywood Reporter, Zabka opened about his pop culture convention interactions with fans dramatically changed once the sequel series aired.
"It's a trip," Zabka said of getting used to the experience. "I love it now because up until [Cobra Kai] I was the table that the dads would walk up and go, 'I just want my kid to meet you. This guy was the biggest asshole. Nice to meet you.' And they would walk away." The actor rekindled his friendship with Macchio upon Morita's passing in 2005 but admitted fans were admittedly more cordial to his co-star prior to the series. "Now, I got people coming up and going, 'Hey, I love you on the show. Johnny is cool now.'"
It was also during a con when Zabka broke the news of the development of Cobra Kai to his Karate Kid co-star Martin Kove, who plays Johnny's sensei John Kreese. Naturally, he also wanted in and the rest is history. The series focuses on Johnny and Daniel as they lead their respective dojos in Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do to their former glory training a new generation of students. In later seasons, students shift allegiances and Johnny comes to a fateful decision that splinter from his dojo to form Eagle Fang Karate. An unlikely alliance and a returning threat shape the upcoming season four as Cobra Kai returns in late 2021.