Though he has only appeared in three episodes, 91-year-old veteran actor Ed Asner has had a memorable role in the Karate Kid sequel series, Cobra Kai, playing the step-father to William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence. In fact, Asner not only appeared in the first episode of Cobra Kai, but his scene was the first one that Zabka shot for the series. It didn’t go exactly as Zabka thought it might, as he relayed to Marc Maron on this week’s WTF podcast.
“My first scene on the show was with Ed Asner, who took me to school,” Anser told Maron, who has also worked with Asner in the past. “He plays my estranged Dad, and we’re doing rehearsal, and he calls me over and he says, ‘Is there anything else I can give you.’ And I say, ‘No, you’re doing great. How about you? Is there anything I can give you?”
“And [Anser] goes, ‘Oh go f**k yourself.'”
“He did it in character,” Zabka said, “and he rattled me, and he. got me in this place, and I’m like, ‘Sh*t! Did Ed Asner really say that to me? But no, he was doing this device, which he does all the time off-camera.”
It was a hell of a way to kick off the new series, but at least according to Maron, Zabka nailed the role of middle-aged Johnny Lawrence. “This seemed like the reasonable evolution of that guy,” Maron said. “Just going to, like, high school reunions. There’s an element of that guy on his best behavior can’t hide that he’s pissed off and beaten. But the thing wouldn’t work unless you were empathetic, which is a testament to your acting … that character was an a**hole, and he’s still an a**hole. But he’s sad.”
For fans of Cobra Kai, it’s a great podcast episode, full of gems about the series and Zabka’s experience. Zabka also revealed, for instance, that his experience at Cons has changed dramatically since Cobra Kai. “It’s a trip. 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 a**hole. Nice to meet you.’ And they would walk away. Now, I got people coming up and going, ‘Hey, I love you on the show. Johnny is cool now.'”
In fact, it was during of those conventions in Florida that Zabka had to reveal to Martin Kove — who plays John Kreese — that the series had been greenlit without Kove’s immediate involvement. “I had to break it to him outside this bar. It was rainy at night and he was about to go to his room. And I was like, ‘Hey I need to tell you about something that’s going on right now it’s a thing called’ Cobra Kai.’”
Kove was happy to hear it but didn’t understand why he hadn’t been notified yet. “He was like, ‘Well, when do I come on? When’s my part?’ and I go, ‘Well they’re gonna call you but I think it’s like the end of episode 10.’ He was like, ‘Why the end? Why can’t I come in the middle? Why can’t I come in episode two? Have them call me.’”
Of course, they eventually did bring him in, and now Kove is the primary antagonist on the series, at least until Terry Silver arrives in Season Four, which will debut on Netflix later this year.
Source: WTF with Marc Maron