Why Martin Kove Had Doubts About Cobra Kai

Martin Kove

Getty Martin Kove strikes a pose at TCL Chinese Theatre.

Audiences were introduced to the ruthless sensei John Kreese, portrayed by Martin Kove, in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid. The character also appeared in the second and third installments of the martial arts film franchise. Kreese returned to wreak havoc in the San Fernando Valley karate scene during Cobra Kai‘s tenth episode, titled “Mercy.” 

Martin Kove Revealed That He Had Reservations About Playing Kreese on ‘Cobra Kai’

Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove and William Zabka

Getty‘Cobra Kai’ stars Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove, and William Zabka pose together at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con.

While speaking to Page Six in January, Martin Kove revealed he had reservations about becoming a Cobra Kai cast member. Before signing on to the project, he wanted to make sure that his character was not two-dimensional. 

“I was only interested in doing this role if he was a multifaceted character. I don’t look at him as a villain. I look at him as a misunderstood character,” explained the 75-year-old. 

The publication noted that Kreese was humanized in Cobra Kai Season 3. As fans are aware, a series of flashbacks showed the Vietnam veteran experiencing numerous traumatic events, which explained why he has such an aggressive demeanor. 

“People don’t really hate my character, especially now they have a fuller understanding of what made him the way he is,” said Kove. 

He revealed, however, that one time a child hit him because of how his character treated Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). 

“I turned around and it was a little kid about 7 years old and he said, ‘You hurt Ralph [Macchio]!’” recalled the actor. 

Kove Shared Similar Sentiments in an August 2020 Interview

Martin Kove

GettyMartin Kove strikes a pose at the Cobra Kai press line in 2019.

Kove shared similar sentiments about being on Cobra Kai during an August 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He told the publication: 

I wanted to come back to the role. I was quite leery to do it as written for the movies, but my basic insistence to the [Cobra Kai] writers was, ‘Are you going to write this character vulnerably? Are you going to give him some versatile situations?’ And they did, they had him coming off episode-one, season-two as if he was a big shot.

In the same interview, the actor explained why he believed the first Karate Kid film has had such a cultural impact and is still relevant after three decades. He noted that prior to Cobra Kai’s premiered he would attend conventions with his co-stars Ralph Macchio and William “Billy” Zabka, who plays Johnny Lawrence. 

“And what we saw [at the shows and conventions], one of three things that happened in the movie resonated with people, things that helped make it a religious experience. Number one, in 1984, [the main characters] were really bullied,” said the actor. “Number two, there’s a relationship with a woman, or romance that did not work out. And number three, there’s the fish out of water theme, somebody who is moved around a lot and never has any roots. So I found out, through autograph shows and talking to people, that everybody felt, in some way, the Karate Kid experience.”

He went on to say that Cobra Kai “brings those themes back, even though we’re always introducing new elements like these teenagers.”

To see more of Kove, be sure to check out Cobra Kai, available on Netflix. 

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