Ralph Macchio on the Value of Chozen's Return

With Cobra Kai Season 3 now due to hit Netflix on New Year’s Day, we’ve got a lot of Cobra Kai content coming your way very soon beginning with the non-spoiler portion of our chat with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. While this section of the conversation does stick to the material we saw in the trailer, it feels worth noting that if you’re someone who prefers to go into Season 3 with minimal context, you might want to save this interview until after watching the first few episodes of the season.

If you’re still with me, how about those Okinawa scenes? Even though much of The Karate Kid Part II takes place in Okinawa with Daniel (Macchio) accompanying Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) home after he gets word that his father isn’t doing well, the movie was actually shot in Hawaii. For Cobra Kai Season 3, however, the team actually got the OK to travel to Okinawa for filming. Here’s how Macchio described the experience:

“It was a whirlwind. I’m really thankful and proud of the production and Sony for letting us go there for what was only about two days of shooting. [Laughs] It was like a long weekend. Most of the time was in the air. It was blessed, you know? It just felt like I was in the land of Miyagi and I finally got there, and Yugi was with me. Tamlyn did not get to go so the stuff with Kumiko we were able to shoot stateside if you will. We had one gorgeous day of weather and one just miserable day of weather, and we were able to cherry pick and get what we needed.”

He also revealed a little traveling hiccup to keep an eye out for but, in all honesty, even after going back to look for this detail, I couldn’t tell the difference!

“We landed and the wardrobe was on another plane that was transferred so then we had to match a shirt because it didn’t make it there in time and we only had two days … but it was that one beautiful location overlooking the landscape and the water, it felt blessed to be there.”

Another major perk of this portion of the Season 3 storyline? It gave Macchio the opportunity to reunite with his Karate Kid Part II co-stars, Tamlyn Tomita and Yuji Okumoto:

“It’s the same thing I talk about when Billy and I stepped on together; there’s just a history and you share something that’s an unspoken language, that there’s a connection and both of them did such a beautiful job, brought their A games. With Tamlyn it was like we were these teenagers, you know? It was smiley and it was sweet and it was angelic and all those things that you remember from that film. We couldn’t help but be that way! And it lends itself to the story. It has that line where, ‘It’s been 30 years, but it feels like five minutes,’ and it felt that way with both of them. And Yugi does such a spectacular turn in his character and he knows where the comedy is and the action and the drama and the heart, and that all comes through with both of them so I’m really proud to have that in this season.”

It’s an undeniable treat to see the return of Kumiko and Chozen in the series, but as exciting as it is to see them back on screen with Daniel, their return has to have a purpose and Macchio insists that that is the case here:

“It also propels the story, the LaRusso [and] Johnny Lawrence story. It’s not just there as a standalone. It’s, how do you deal with a rival and how can you get to the other side?”

If you’d like to hear more about Cobra Kai Season 3 from Macchio and Zabka, including Zabka’s experience finding the balance between the severity of Miguel’s injury and keeping the show’s levity intact, check out the full non-spoiler portion of our conversation at the top of this article. We’ll have the spoiler-heavy material for you when Cobra Kai Season 3 arrives on Netflix on Friday, January 1st.

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka:

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Perri Nemiroff (2767 Articles Published)

Perri Nemiroff has been part of the Collider team since 2012. She co-hosts Collider FYC, The Witching Hour and hosts the interview series, Collider Ladies Night. Perri's a proud graduate of Columbia University's Film MFA program and member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Perri splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, but devotes every waking hour to her cat, Deputy Dewey.

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