William Michael Billy Zabka 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. In 2004, he was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing and producing the film Most.
Zabka was born in New York City to Stanley and Nancy Zabka. The latter 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. 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.
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 with Edward Woodward (19861989) 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. Shot in Las Vegas, Nevada, following a story reminiscent of the comedy film The Hangover. Starring David Arquette plays the man in the video who proposes to his girlfriend. Rick Harrison of the History Channel original show Pawn Stars makes a cameo appearance in the video. Also in the video are cameos by Ron White, Carrot Top, Wayne Newton, and Penn and Teller.
Zabka also made a cameo appearance in the film Hot Tub Time Machine that same year.
In 2011, Zabka's Rascal Flatts video was Nominated for CMT Video of the Year and Group Video of the year.
In 2013, Zabka guest starred as himself in the season 8 episode of How I Met Your Mother, The Bro Mitzvah, alongside Karate Kid co-star Ralph Macchio. He is currently recurring on the show's ninth season.