And once again, the Karate Kid spinoff, which ended Season 2 on a devastating cliffhanger, is delivering, earning big cheers from fans and critics, not to mention mega streams for Netflix. The addictively entertaining show, which rekindles the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and a redeemed Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) while introducing a new generation of teen fighters, continues to prove to be one of television’s biggest underdog-success stories of the past decade.
In a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Macchio, 59, reflects on their original expectations re-entering the Karate Kid-verse when Cobra Kai launched on YouTube Red in 2018.
“It’s exceeded my expectations,” he says (watch above). “Not that I didn’t feel we were making something great that was connecting to the original story, the nostalgia of the Karate Kid universe and paying homage to that and never losing sight of that. But to propel to this level on YouTube, break out in that way…
“The low expectations helped us, I think. The press and the media was like, ‘OK, they’re doing this now. Sure, no one has any original ideas, why not do this?’ So that was a good thing for us.”
Zabka, 55, meanwhile, cleared up a misconception that’s hung over the series since the premiere of Season 2. It involves the death of actor Rob Garrison, who reprised his role as one of Johnny’s old Cobra Kai pals Tommy Sheridan (owner of one of the original film’s most famous exclamations, “Get him a body bag. Yeah!”) in the sixth episode, “Take a Right.” After a motorcycle and camping rendezvous with Johnny, Bobby (Ron Thomas) and Jimmy (Tony O’Dell), the terminally ill Tommy is found dead, and last seen being zipped up in a body bag, natch, one of the show’s countless callbacks to its origins.
When Garrison himself died only months after the premiere of Season 2, fans speculated that he must’ve also been sick in real life, and Cobra Kai was using the episode as a send-off to both the character and the actor. Zabka, however, says that wasn’t the case.
“He was not sick when we were filming that episode,” Zabka says of Garrison. “He was such a supporter of the first season. He was just thrilled that he was invited to come back and play Tommy in the condition that Tommy was in, to put him in a body bag. I thought he might have a hard time with that but he did it with his whole heart and he loved every second of that.
“He got sick later. It was in a way some kind of serendipity. But he had a chance to put his last Tommy out there and lay Tommy down the way he would’ve wanted to as an artist. And he was beautiful in that, so it’s a tribute to him.”
Garrison died on September 27, 2019 at the age of 59 after being treated for kidney and liver issues. Cobra Kai’s Season 3 premiere episode is dedicated to him.
Cobra Kai Seasons 1-3 are currently streaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer for Season 3:
— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by John Santo
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