William Zabka

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William Zabka
William Zabka at the Chiller Theatre Expo in NJ, April 27, 2013 (02).jpg
Zabka at the Chiller Theatre Expo in New Jersey, April 2013
Born William Michael Zabka
(1965-10-20) October 20, 1965 (age 49)
New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Billy Zabka
Ethnicity Czech American
Occupation Actor, producer, screenwriter, martial artist
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Stacie (2008–present)

William Michael "Billy" Zabka (born October 20, 1965) is an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer. Zabka is best known for his villain roles in several iconic 80s films, such as his role as Johnny Lawrence in 1984's The Karate Kid.[1] In 2004, he was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing and producing the film Most.

Life and career[edit]

Zabka was born in New York City to Stanley and Nancy Zabka. His father, who was assistant director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during the first two years of Carson's tenure, has worked as production manager on a number of motion pictures, including the Chuck Norris vehicle Forced Vengeance. Young William grew up with two siblings: sister Judy; brother Guy. Like their father, both brothers share a fondness for writing and performing music; together, they own and operate Big Island Music, Incorporated.

Zabka's breakout role came in his first movie, 1984's The Karate Kid. Zabka played the role of Johnny Lawrence, the main antagonist to the title character played by Ralph Macchio. He had no previous martial arts experience at the time; however, he was an accomplished wrestler. Zabka's participation in the film inspired him to learn the martial art of Tang Soo Do and later earning a black belt.[1]

During the 1980s, Zabka continued to define his acting roles in the comedy movies Just One of the Guys (1985) and Back to School (1986). Zabka also co-starred on the CBS television series The Equalizer as Edward Woodward's son (1986–1989) and he played Jack, Audrey's jock boyfriend, in National Lampoon's European Vacation.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Zabka acted mostly in independent films while studying to be a filmmaker. In 2003, he wrote and produced the short film Most, shot on location in the Czech Republic and Poland. Most (aka The Bridge) had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2003 and won numerous awards at prestigious film festivals, including Best of Festival at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films in 2003. In 2004, Zabka was nominated for an Academy Award for Most in the Live Action Short Film category.

In 2007, Zabka directed and starred in a music video for the band No More Kings entitled "Sweep the Leg". The video stars Zabka as a caricature of himself, living in a trailer in the desert and obsessed with his role in The Karate Kid. The video includes cameos by several of the original Karate Kid cast members, including Martin Kove and Ralph Macchio. "Sweep the Leg" was featured on MTV.com, Vh1.com, E!. Within its first week of release, it became the number one video on YouTube on March 16, 2007. As of May 2008, it had received 3 million views. The video was a collaboration between No More Kings' record label Astonish Records, and Chapter Seven Films, a film company in Los Angeles.

In 2010, Zabka directed Rascal Flatts in their music video for the song "Why Wait", which stars David Arquette, with appearances by Rick Harrison, Ron White, Carrot Top, Wayne Newton and Penn and Teller. That same year, Zabka made a cameo appearance in the film Hot Tub Time Machine.

In 2011, Zabka's Rascal Flatts video was nominated for CMT Video of the Year and Group Video of the Year.

In 2013, Zabka, alongside Karate Kid co-star Ralph Macchio, guest starred as himself in the season 8 episode of How I Met Your Mother, "The Bro Mitzvah" - a role which became recurring on the show's ninth season.


Year Film Role Notes
1984 The Karate Kid Johnny Lawrence
1985 Just One of the Guys Greg Tolan
National Lampoon's European Vacation Jack
1986 Back to School Chas Osborne
The Karate Kid, Part II Johnny Lawrence
1988 A Tiger's Tale Randy
1991 For Parents Only Ted Alternative title: Mean Parents Suck
1992 Shootfighter: Fight to the Death Ruben Alternative title: Shootfighter
1994 Unlawful Passage Howie
1995 Shootfighter II Ruben
The Power Within Raymond Vonn Alternative title: Power Man
1997 High Voltage Bulldog
1999 Interceptors Dave Alternative titles: Interceptor Force
Predator 3: Intercepters
The Last Line of Defence
2000 Mindstorm Rojack Alternative titles: Artificial Telepathy
Project: Human Weapon
Falcon Down Security Guard John
2001 Ablaze Curt Peters
2002 Gale Force Rance
Hyper Sonic The Executive
Landspeed Bob Bailey
Dark Descent Marty (Opening credits only) Alternative title: Descent Into Darkness
Antibody Otto Emmerick
2003 Most
Alternative title: The Bridge, screenwriter & producer
2004 Roomies Slick Salesman Alternative title: Wild Roomies
2007 Smiley Face Prison guard
Cake: A Wedding Story Sam Alternative title: Cake: A Wedding Comedy
Starting from Scratch Bill Bowman
2008 The Man in the Silo Kevin
2010 Hot Tub Time Machine Rick Steelman
Year Title Role Notes
1983 The Greatest American Hero Clarence Mortner, Jr. 1 episode
1984 Gimme a Break! Jeffery 1 episode
CBS Schoolbreak Special Rick Peterson 1 episode
1984–1985 E/R Druggie Kid/Thief 1 episodes
1985–1989 The Equalizer Scott McCall 9 episodes
1996 To the Ends of Time Alexander Television movie
2000 Epoch Joe Television movie
Python Greg Larsen Television movie
2002 Python II Greg Larsen Television movie, credited as Billy Zabka
2013–2014 How I Met Your Mother Clown/Himself Guest (Season 8), Recurring (Season 9)
2014 Psych Derrick Bagg/Coach bag Guest (Season 8)

Award nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
1985 Young Artist Award Best Young Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama The Karate Kid Nominated
2004 Academy Awards Best Short Film, Live Action Most (shared with Bobby Garabedian)


External links[edit]