Synopsis : Thirty four years after events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso.
Q&A with Actor Xolo Maridueña, Actor Tanner Buchanan, Actress Mary Mouser, Actor Jacob Bertrand, Actress Gianni DeCenzo, Actress Peyton List
Q: Since Season 3, you’ve been very busy. Now you’re shooting Season 4. Since the Emmys came out, so much has happened and, starting with Xolo — you’re a global phenomenon now — what’s it been like coming back for Season 4?
Xolo Maridueña: After having been on Netflix for Season 3, I think coming to film Season 4, it’s been crazy because it still feels the same, we recorded the same, we put in the same love, but knowing that like there’s people in Brazil who are watching the show or people in Europe that are going to watch it, I feel like it’s much more rewarding to see the world a part of “Cobra Kai.” It’s really a blessing and we’re super excited, but none of it would have been possible without the fans. The Emmy nod was super exciting and we’re all grateful for that. Now, we’re doing the stunts, and it’s all coming together. We’re doing it back to back.
Q: Tanner, it was very much at the very height of the pandemic when Season 3 came out. So have you had any interesting fan reactions?
Tanner Buchanan: Personally, not really, because I don’t leave the house very much, so I’m very much a home boy. But, every once in a blue moon, there’ll be people who come to see me. When I was in Starbucks a couple of weeks ago, this girl who was probably about 12 or 13, clocked me when I walked in — and I had my mask on and everything. But, they called my order and said, “Tanner.” Her head whipped around to me and I grabbed my coffee. She was like, “Can we take a picture please?” I was like, “ Yeah, of course, absolutely.” So that’s the most recent one.
Q: When you put in your real name at Starbucks, you’re just asking for it. Mary, at the end of Season 3, we get to that final scene and the music cues, where you all bow, Dojos combined. That was a great moment, but it’s not the most practical idea to have lifelong enemies team up against a different lifelong enemy. The kids are going to have to help guide the adults a lot through Season 4.
Mary Mouser: That makes us sound like the wilderness explorers, we’re here to help ( Lol). I feel like the fun of the show is, we’ve all taken so much from informationally and in terms of karate and also life, from our sensei on the show. Also in real life, we’ve got to have those bonds with the people who play our sensei — they are just so awesome. I feel like that’s the fun of it. I get to turn that around a bit. I feel like somebody has got to hold it together. I feel like the common enemy thing only last so long. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I definitely think it’s very fun to see those dynamics play out — especially with Samantha in the middle of all that.
Q: Yeah. Samantha is definitely in the middle of that. Another person that’s definitely in the middle — almost a man without a country — is Jacob. Your character beat up a lot of people. How did you approach Season 4, knowing that it was definitely going to be the dynamic of your character? He’s a bit more similar to Season 1.
Jacob Bertrand: It almost feels like back to square one. I guess my biggest fear before I read the script was, “Oh my gosh, I wonder if Dimitri is going to forgive Hawk,” because my character broke his arm. I remember when we were filming the last episode of Season 3, we’re all in the Miyagi-do backyard walking up and I was like, “Oh, wow, I guess we’re turning over a new leaf.” And that relationship seems to be good, but there’s a lot of other burned bridges and a lot of broken relationships that he has to amend. That’s the journey through Season 4 for Hawk with lots of strife and struggles.
Q: Gianni, the person who’s going to be the catalyst to any redemption that Hawk is going to have is Dimitri. It’s true. Your character Gianni feels like a mad professor who may be like a chess board a little bit quicker than anybody else. Not always able to fix it, but is he going to be a big guide in Season 4?
Gianni DeCenzo: Dimitri has always tried to be the conscience of the group but it doesn’t always pan out. He tried to convince Samantha not to go fight in that arcade, but it didn’t really work out. He got his arm broken; the binary bros are kind of working it out. So they’ll be okay. I think Dimitri is always trying to look out for people and I think we’re going to see a lot more of that in Season 4 — helping Hawk amend those relationships. I kind of have to hold them back a couple of times, but I’m looking forward to it.
Jacob Bertrand: I liked Dimitri’s roles. Like I’m uplifting you. No, no, that’s too much.
Xolo Maridueña: Don’t kill yourself. You’ve got it, buddy.
Gianni DeCenzo: We don’t use our fists, [we use] words, try the words!
Q: He’s the strangest karate student ever. He’s the smartest kid in the room. In a lot of these episodes, it’s always interesting watching him as the somewhat pacifist who decides to fight. He showed his hardest hits on Season 3. It was like epic in the LaRusso house fight. Peyton, all of you guys took it up to a new level for that scene. Could you talk about that scene in Season 3. Do you think that’s the biggest stunt or do folks have to pay attention to what we have in Season 4?
Peyton List: I think our action gets a lot bigger and we had to train a lot harder.
Q: So it definitely takes it up a notch. What was the preparation this time? You guys went into Season 4 very quickly. And now you’re already back with Season 5.
Peyton List: We just started training as soon as the season started. It was mayhem, whenever we had a fight scene, the weekend before we’re training as much as possible and trying to get as much of it done. We get the script at the last minute, So we just trying to keep up with everything. A lot of it is really last minute, but every day we did Season 4, we trained really hard.
Q: Tanner, you have a great scene in Season 4 and definitely what could be called a show-off karate scene in the very first episode. it’s definitely like, “I’m really going to show you that I’m better than all of you.” Talk about how you had to prepare for that one. You guys do great stunt performances.
Tanner Buchanan: It was a lot. Coming out of season 3, and into Season 4, we definitely had to up everything. So everybody was hot and ready to go, to train as hard as we possibly can. When we first got there, we had a few weeks of training and then obviously, one of the first fight scenes was with me, we worked on it a lot. You don’t see that side of Robbie very often, which was kind of cool and it’s a lot more grittier than how he usually fights. So it’s actually kind of fun to just start to explore that side of him.
Q: There’s a lot going on in that fight. It’s a lot more than just the kicks and punches, but folks will have to tune in to take a peak at that. Xolo, because of the rehab situation, you didn’t do as much of the physical stuff. What was your favorite sort of stunt scene in season 4 that you can lightly tease us for folks to look forward to?
Xolo Maridueña: It’s been such a pleasure to get to build that chemistry. Except for Gianni, I fought everyone in this room before, so getting to revisit certain rivalries is something that’s been super exciting as well. Of course, we got to spice it up. I’d say Season 4 was similar to Season 2 with the Coyote Creek fight.
Like the fights I’m mostly the one in. Definitely with Jacob and Tanner, like when you’re able to joke around in between takes, that’s how you know it’s going to be a good fight because you’re just like let’s get this done, and let’s have a laugh while we’re beating the crap out of each other.
Q: Speaking of beating the crap out of each other, it’s really funny because it feels like a lot of people on first glance would think that Cobra Kai is a very male aggro thing, but Peyton and Mary, you are so fierce, the rivalry, the fight, every time you two are going to face off, it seems like you’re just go at it a little bit harder, a little bit tougher — how much fun is that though?
Mary Mouser: It showed us that it’s even more fun because we’re also close friends with one another. We say it all the time, but Peyton and I, in between every take, we’re over there, high-fiving each other, saying, “You freaking killed that one,” or “I was so scared.” We were cheering on each other the whole time. But we also are able to flip that switch and move over into the anger side. I think we have a lot of fun letting that out. It’s really important to see women in film, but also women in the media who are doing martial arts. It’s really awesome to see the not-so-nice sides of them.
Q: Peyton, going into Season 4, the rivalry between the two dojos goes to different places, but specifically with the rivalry between you two, it does sort of evolve. What can folks look forward to as far as your two dynamics in Season 4?
Peyton List: That’s become a lot more personal. You were talking about the words that we use with each other. I think I address Samantha more as a bitch than I do her name. That’s why I feel like this build up for me, and I think for Mary too, was just so huge because this rivalry really has been built up for a while. Whenever I see Samantha, there’s something happening on the show.
Q: These girls are in the same scene. This is definitely going to be the money shot at some point throughout filming. Here’s the last question — hope is divisive but —Gianni, who has the best karate skill?
Gianni DeCenzo : I feel like it’s between Tanner and Jacob, they’re great.
Q: Peyton, among the cast, who do you think has the best karate skills?
Peyton List: I would say Jacob and Tanner. I’ve been waiting to see them fight in real life.
Jacob Bertrand: If you had to pick one, who would you pick?
Peyton List: Why are you doing this? Well, I would say, Jacob…
Xolo Maridueña: I think Jacob is really good, but I will say there should be an honorable mention. Peyton came in the Second Season, knowing no karate and picked up on that later like it was nobody’s business. I had my first fight with her, she was like trash, but she got well, she definitely brought it to next level.
Here’s the trailer of the series.