Continuing with the theme of the Johnny Lawrence hatred, William Zabka has stated that there have been more than a handful of times when random strangers would approach him, and instead of requesting an autograph, they requested a fight!
William, as his mother had to do, has had to reassure diehard Daniel LaRusso defenders that he is not a black belt bully in real life and just an actor – and a really nice guy.
Producer Jerry Weintraub wanted to market every bit of the karate and Asian theme as much as possible when the film was to be released.
Even though Pat Morita was a well-established and easily recognized actor, Weintraub suggested that his Japanese name be used in the credits for the film. Pat agreed and was then credited as Noriyuki “Pat” Morita.
William Zabka’s Method Acting Goes Too Far
Poor William Zabka. His channeling of his inner bully Johnny Lawrence was incredibly effective. So effective that the extras in the movie started to blur the line between the real person William and the character Johnny.
In between takes during the final tournament scene, the extras would continue jeering at and booing William. It’s reported that his mother who was on set would berate the extras!
It’s Strictly Business, Mr. Miyagi
Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi’s relationship was so authentic that it would lead fans to believe that it extended off-screen. Sadly, this was not the case. When interviewed in his older years, Ralph Macchio was asked about his private relationship with Pat Morita.
Ralph admitted that they were not involved in each others’ personal lives and only had a professional relationship. William Zabka and Martin Kove, however, have remained close friends of Ralph’s for almost forty years.
Mr. Miyagi’s Smile Beats Daniel’s Victory March
Ralph Macchio may have let the title of Karate Kid get to his head a bit. Speaking at a fan meetup in 2016, Ralph stated that his ideal was originally Daniel LaRusso being carried on the shoulders of the adoring crowd after his victory.
This ending was, in fact, shot and set as the ending. John Avildsen had a change of heart decided to reshoot it with a grinning Mr. Miyagi, beaming with pride. Ralph conceded that in hindsight this was the better ending scene.