Sunday, August 2, 2020
Home Longform Profiles William Zabka Talks "Where Hope Grows" & "Karate Kid" Lessons

William Zabka Talks “Where Hope Grows” & “Karate Kid” Lessons

William Zabka (How I Met Your Mother, Karate Kid) co-stars in Where Hope Grows, an inspiring drama about an unlikely friendship between Calvin Campbell (Backstrom actor Kristoffer Polaha), a self-destructive ex-baseball player and Produce (David DeSanctis), a grocery store employee with Down syndrome.

Zabka co-stars as Milton, Calvin’s best friend and drinking buddy who’s having his own share of problems at home (The Wonder Years and Dancing with the Stars alum Danica McKellar plays his wife).

One of Where Hope Grows’ strengths lies in Dowling’s screenplay, as the drama doesn’t go down a predictable route with its main characters. In an inferior, less inspired narrative, Milton would have been the stereotypical antagonist, but Dowling creates a complex guy who, like Calvin, is struggling with his own demons.

Kristoffer Polaha (“Calvin”) meets David DeSanctis (“Produce”) in a scene from Roadside Attractions’ “Where Hope Grows.” Photo credit: Tom LeGoff
Kristoffer Polaha (“Calvin”) meets David DeSanctis (“Produce”) in a scene from Roadside Attractions’ “Where Hope Grows.” Photo credit: Tom LeGoff

“It’s a really well written screenplay,” says Zabka, who along with acting also produced the Oscar nominated short Most. “With real honest characters. They weren’t sugar-coated. They’re real people. It really was an ensemble in a lot of ways . . . it was a whole assortment of very interesting, real and true people. And that’s very exciting.”

As much as I dug Zabka and the rest of the ensemble’s work on Where Hope Grows, I had a specific question about one of the actor’s previous collaborators. One of my favorite aspects of director John G. Avildsen’s storytelling aesthetic lies in his ability to actually let a scene breathe and take shape.

I asked William Zabka about his experiences on working with Avildsen on The Karate Kid. His answer, which includes a brief mention of his time on TV’s The Equalizer and working with director Amy Heckerling (on European Vacation) is below (Where Hope Grows co-star McKaley Miller can also be heard in the clip):

Where Hope Grows opens in theaters May 15. For more info, please go to

Greg Srisavasdi
I've been a movie reviewer/interview since 1991 (as a UCLA Daily Bruin scribe), worked at Westwood One, Deepest Dream owner, co-editor of Hollywood Outbreak, podcast co-host of "CinemAddicts" and "Matt and Greg Used To Interview Movie Stars." I can be reached at for inquiries or whatever the case may be!

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