‘Cobra Kai’ star William Zabka declined to wear this’ 80s band shirt on the show

The Netflix series Cobra Kai allowed Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) to have a much bigger role than he had in the original Karate kid. In the series, Johnny reopens the Cobra Kai Karate dojo in an attempt to relive positive memories of his youth. He ends up mentoring a new group of teenagers and tries to introduce them to the 80s heavy metal bands he loved.

Xolo Maridueña and William Zabka in “Cobra Kai”. | Curtis Bond Baker / Netflix

Turns out these ’80s metal T-shirts are a conscious effort between Zabka and costume designer Frank Helmer. Helmer spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone about his costumes for Cobra Kai and shared the ’80s T-shirt that Zabka refused to wear.

Helmer said Zabka takes care of Johnny’s wardrobe. Then it’s Helmer’s job to find the authentic concert T-shirts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzNYAtz8T No

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“Every time I put it in a band t-shirt, Billy and I talk about it a lot when I bring the shirts,” Helmer said. “He said, ‘Johnny Lawrence would never go see this band. He would totally go see Metallica, he would have totally been at this show. ‘ I get the real gig tees. I track them down.

The band t-shirt William Zabka refused to wear on ‘Cobra Kai’

Helmer remembered a T-shirt Zabka had missed, and he agreed. As much as they loved nostalgia, they would only dress Johnny in a t-shirt that Johnny would actually wear.

William Zabka and Xolo Maridueña in Cobra Kai

From left to right: Xolo Maridueña and William Zabka | Netflix

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“It was an addiction to Jane Nothing is shocking tee album Billy and I thought, even though we’re big fans of the band, Johnny wouldn’t because their music is too sophisticated and smart, ”Helmer said. “Johnny Lawrence is a die-hard ’80s rock fan of bands like Whitesnake, Metallica, Scorpions, STYX and AC / DC, all of which are t-shirts he’s worn on the show over the seasons.”

William Zabka suggested one that failed ‘Cobra Kai’

The turnaround is fair play, and there was a time when Zabka suggested a T-shirt that Helmer vetoed.

“I was playing an ’80s mix on my dressing room radio,” Helmer said. “He said, ‘I love this song. We should buy a Loverboy t-shirt. I’m like, ‘I’m not putting a Loverboy t-shirt on Johnny Lawrence. It doesn’t work for me.

Johnny Lawrence and Miguel cheer on Dee Snider in

William Zabka (top) and Xolo Maridueña (bottom) | Curtis Bonds Baker / Netflix

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At first, it may seem that Loveryboy’s big hit “Lovin ‘Every Minute Of It” would suit Johnny Lawrence just fine. Helmer explained why it was wrong for Cobra Kai.

“I feel like he’s got a bit more of an edge,” Helmer said. “He looks more like Metallica and Scorpions than Loverboy.”

‘Cobra Kai’ is very careful with these vintage t-shirts

Helmer also revealed a bit Cobra Kai secret. There will never be a fight scene while Johnny is wearing a vintage concert tee, because the shirts are too valuable.

“It’s also why he never fights in a gig tee because I use real ones that I can’t pass,” Helmer said. “That’s a little insider tip there. If you ever see Johnny Lawrence wearing a band t-shirt, know he’s not going to fight.

Elizabeth J. Harless