“Cobra Kai” stunt performers Jahnel Curfman and Julia Maggio recently spoke to Heavy about their 2021 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Stunt Performance. Curfman explained the significance of the nomination, as it is the first year that stunt performers have been recognized with the category.
“I think it’s really monumental especially as much as stunt performers have been campaigning and fighting for a category in the Emmys. I mean not just stunt performers, stunts in general, even the coordinators. It has really been an uphill battle to be recognized by the Academy so the fact that, you know, the Emmys now are recognizing performance and not just the stunt coordination is — it’s a really big step for us,” explained Curfman.
Maggio then revealed that she was notified about the nomination by Curfman and her husband, Hiro Koda, who were the show’s stunt coordinators until its fourth season.
“Both of them texted and called me to congratulate me. It was just so special because of course, I did the whole show with them and it was just so important to me that I got to do this with them. But it was so special,” shared Maggio.
The Emmy nomination for their work on “Cobra Kai” has been a long time coming for both Curfman and Maggio. Curfman, who was a professional dancer, worked as a motion capture performer in the 2009 film “Avatar.” After that experience, she has since been a stunt performer on major productions, such as “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Stranger Things,” and of course, “Cobra Kai,” where she doubled for Peyton List, who plays Tory Nichols, in season 2 and season 3. Curfman and Koda also received an Emmy nomination in 2019 for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or Variety Program.
Maggio told Heavy that she had “a background in cheerleading and gymnastics” and initially got her start “doing live and televised performances in the U.S.” for “Power Rangers.” She explained that while doing said performances, she “was working with all these stunt performers on the team,” who “recommended that [she] should go into stunts and started training in martial arts.” Most recently, she was a stunt double in “Zombieland: Double Tap,” the television series “Legacies,” and Netflix’s “Fear Street” trilogy. In season 2 and 3 of “Cobra Kai,” Maggio got to show off her martial arts skills by being Mary Mouser’s stunt double.
Curfman & Maggio Explained How They Got Involved With ‘Cobra Kai’
Curfman explained that she initially got involved with “Cobra Kai” because Koda requested her help with stunt coordination at “the end of season 1,” as he was appearing on screen as the referee for the All Valley Tournament.
“So I jumped over with him on that as an additional stunt coordinator and then when we rolled into season 2, he was like I need someone the whole season so we just sort of jumped in together season 2,” said Curfman.
She noted that in season 2, she began doubling for List, and Maggio was also hired on to do stunts for Mouser. Both of the stunt performers noted that they were fans of the “Karate Kid” film franchise before working on “Cobra Kai.”
“It was so amazing for Jahnel and Hiro to call me for season 2. I was so excited,” stated Maggio.
“At first, it was pretty surreal because you have the nostalgia of this great franchise that they are rebooting and bringing back to life in a much more like cheeky way. So it was really cool to get to be apart of that and just to be part of the ‘Karate Kid’ franchise family and work with the original cast. Like those guys are still really great performers as far as their choreography and the things that they are doing and to see them even at their ages, you know, getting in there making all this happen. It’s really impressive,” said the stunt coordinator.
The Stunt Performers Spoke Highly of Peyton List & Mary Mouser
During their interview with Heavy, Curfman and Maggio spoke highly of both List and Mouser. Maggio noted that she appreciated Mouser because she “is extremely passionate about ‘Cobra Kai’” and “really wanted to learn every fight, every move.”
“I find it’s easier to stunt double someone when they are passionate about the action as well because then they will want to do the action and they will want to mesh the choreography between her and me really well and create a really good fight scene,” said Maggio.
She went on to describe Mouser, List, Curfman, and herself as “a dream team.” Curfman agreed with Maggio’s assessment and shared that both “Peyton and Mary worked so hard.” She explained that both actresses “stay[ed] in good physical shape,” which helped refine their choreography. Curfman also noted that Mouser and List took the time to get comfortable with their characters’ weapons of choice, which happen to be nunchucks and a bo staff.
“As soon as they knew what their weapon was — Mary got a bo staff and Peyton got a pair nunchucks. That weapon was with them, it didn’t matter what scene they were doing as soon as they yelled cut they were back in their chairs they had the weapons with them. Like it was in their hands non-stop,” shared Curfman.
She also noted List’s martial arts skills have most improved out of everyone in the “Cobra Kai” cast.
“Of course, I’m bias because I love her to pieces but from what Peyton came in to what she is now is night and day. She has just worked so hard and progressed so much to be Tory and to be bada**,” said the former Laker girl.
Curfman & Maggio Shared What Makes ‘Cobra Kai’ Unique
Curfman and Maggio, who did not work on the show’s upcoming fourth season, also discussed how “Cobra Kai” compares to other projects. Curfman said that “the cast is amazing.”
“A lot of them are great friends of ours that we spend time with socially as well. So a lot of is that, just being really close to the cast themselves but then also like the stunt team was such a family and all of that combined just made it feel like a really special experience. Like nothing else I have ever experienced on a TV show,” asserted Curfman.
Maggio went on to say that she believes “‘Cobra Kai’ is really unique” for its inclusion of female characters.
“There are multiple females that are really confident or strong or know martial arts. You don’t see that in any other show because usually when I work on any other show I’m the only female because it’s a male dominated industry and women don’t do action,” shared Maggio. “It’s just not in the norm. So ‘Cobra Kai’ was super cool because you had Peyton and Mary, so you had Jahnel and I and to have two women with their own unique martial arts styles and to be working together in such a working partnership, doing all these different fights make for a very unique experience.”
The stunt performers then shared their favorite moments from the set. Curfman noted that while filming the epic fight scene for the show’s season 2 finale, “the energy in that hallway was electrifying with all of the background like screaming at the top of their lungs.”
“We had all of the cast in there doing a lot of their stuff and all those crazy switches we were doing with all the stunt doubles by the time we were done with that and everyone was just like celebrating, I think that there’s some footage out there of us at the end of that jumping up and down and yelling. It was such a wonderful like on-set moment, it felt so good and then they were like okay on to the next thing we’ve got to get back to work,” said the 42-year-old.
Maggio noted that she had a particular fondness for the fight scenes during the season 3 finale at the LaRussos’ home.
“We had to keep changing stunt doubles and actors, in and out, and it ended up being 11 takes,” explained Maggio. “On the last take, we — for my part I had to watch Mary — I was watching a monitor behind set and the second I saw her do a move, I had to go behind camera and go in her place and do a small little bit and then she had to replace me. And I ran across that set, through a door and there would be another monitor that we could see if it finally stuck. So on the 11th take I just remember looking at the monitor after we had done everything and the entire set just erupted and everyone was screaming and clapping and laughing. Just so excited that we got that oner.”
The first three seasons of “Cobra Kai” are available to stream on Netflix.