On “Cobra Kai,” Martin Kove, 75, reprises his role of ruthless sensei John Kreese. As fans are aware, the character first appeared in the 1984 film “The Karate Kid.” In the “Karate Kid” films and “Cobra Kai,” Kreese causes major issues for Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Johnny Lawrence (William “Billy” Zabka), and any karate student who he determines to be weak-willed. For instance, in season 2, episode 4, high school student Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo) visits the Cobra Kai dojo and unintentionally annoys Kreese, causing the sensei to break his nose.
Gianni DeCenzo Discussed Having Martin Kove as a Scene Partner in a January Interview
During a January 2021 Entertainment Weekly interview, Gianni DeCenzo shared how he felt while being Kove’s scene partner during season 2, episode 4. The 19-year-old explained throughout that scene, Kove was “standing there like an absolute pro even when the camera wasn’t on him.”
“He was just giving me so much to work with, even though he didn’t say a single thing. He was just standing there, arms crossed, staring at me,” said the actor.
He then referred to the fact that Demetri gives Kreese a list of needs that he wants to be met in order for him to consider joining the Cobra Kai dojo.
“I have to be there as Demetri just walking around being like, ‘you know, I want to take a flag football approach, you know, I take a more hands off approach to things,’” said the actor.
He then noted that Demetri also criticizes Kreese’s snake tattoo, which further aggravates the Vietnam war veteran.
“When [Demetri] kind of holds on to his tattoo and looks up at him, he just kind of gives his snarl at me, like he’s really going to enjoy just breaking my nose,” said the actor.
DeCenzo then suggested that he was intimidated by Kove while shooting that specific moment.
“And that — that was — that was genuinely terrifying. Like he can be intimidating when he wants to be,” shared the 19-year-old.
DeCenzo shared similar sentiments about having Kove as a co-star while speaking to Collider in February 2021. He clarified that the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star is only “terrifying” while playing the character.
“In real life, he’s super sweet, cracking people up,” noted the actor.
DeCenzo went on to say, however, that “in the one scene where he demolishes [his] nose, he was just absolutely terrifying.” He told the publication:
Even when the camera wasn’t on him, he was standing there in character, just staring me down, as I talked about how I don’t want to do karate. And then, when I squeeze his tattoo and say, “It needs a little work, but it could be there,” he was staring me directly in the eyes and I just knew s*** was gonna go sideways. Sure enough, he broke my nose.
Gianni DeCenzo Also Discussed Working Alongside William “Billy” Zabka & Ralph Macchio
During a May 2021 Comic Book Resources interview, DeCenzo also discussed sharing the screen with William “Billy” Zabka and Ralph Macchio. He stated that both Macchio and Zabka are “super down-to-earth guys.” He then noted that Zabka “was actually teaching people in between takes how to do karate.” He also described Macchio as “just a really cool dude.”
“They just make the scene and set super fun and enjoyable. Because, really, what’s the point of acting if there’s no fun involved? That’s why we do it, it’s because we love to do it. If you’re on a set where people are toxic and not really getting along, it’s not as fun,” said the actor.