'Cobra Kai' star William Zabka has Czech roots

To honor his heritage, the star of the hit Netflix show penned an Oscar-nominated Czech film in the early noughties.

Tom Lane

Written by Tom Lane
Published on 12.01.2021 10:46 (updated on 12.01.2021)

Emmy-nominated series "Cobra Kai" returned this year with the third season of the show dropping on Netflix on New Year's Day.

The comedy-drama is a spin-off of the 1984 film "The Karate Kid" and takes place 30 years after the events of the All Valley Karate Tournament, where Daniel LaRusso struggles without the guidance of Mr. Miyagi, and must face his previous adversary, down-and-out Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka.

But did you know that through Zabka, the show has a link to the Czech Republic?

The actor is of Czech heritage and can, reportedly speak the language fluently. On top of that, in Dec. 2001, he flew to Prague to shoot the Czech film "Most."

According to Forbes, there was no script, cast, and only a limited budget but they produced the film in the Czech Republic and Poland using local actors and crew members taking around three years to make.

“That’s a lot of time to devote and put into a short film and a lot of money to turn down any other acting along the way because it was so close to me. What I want to do is tell stories that are human, that are relatable, that are open to interpretation–'Most' is that. You walk away asking questions,” said Zabka.

He also said in an interview with Vulture in 2014 that making the movie was amazing. "We made it in Prague and Poland with a European cast, far away from the Hollywood system on purpose. We wanted to make a piece of art," he added.

"Most", meaning 'bridge', is a 30-minute short film focused on a father who operates a railway bridge and is forced to choose between saving his son and a train of passengers when an accident takes place. It is directed by Bobby Garabedian, who has worked on films such as "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "Never a Neverland."

The character of the father is played by Vladimír Javorský, while John Debney, who worked on "The Passion of the Christ", "Iron Man 2" and "The Greatest Showman" soundtracks is credited as being the composer on the short film.

Despite the limited budget, "Most" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and selected at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.

According to the website Meaww, Zabka was disappointed not to have won an Oscar, but also slightly relieved.

"It's nice to get an award for writing and producing. But what I really want to be is an actor. And then I was going to go into a slow crane kick and just hold it there. There’s a strange element of relief, though. Because there are so many people you have to thank, and you have to talk in front of all these people.”

Expats.cz's very own production staffer Daniel Zahradnicek worked as a boom operator on the "Most" set and had this to say about working with Zabka and crew.

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"I remember it was freezing in Prague and on location in Poland. They actually had to come back and reshoot in summer because the bridge was too frozen to open."

He says the limited daylight and weather conditions made for a stressful shoot but that Zabka and company were professionals through and through.

"He was even really cool when I mistakenly wound up in his hotel room after a long and exhausting day of shooting because I thought it was mine!"

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The Czech premiere of the short film took place in early 2004 at the Lucerna cinema with William Zabka and Bobby Garabedian both in attendance.

The first three series of "Cobra Kai" are now available to stream across the Czech Republic on Netflix.