“As children, we all fell in love with the ‘Karate Kid’ movies,” reveals “Cobra Kai” co-creator Jon Hurwitz. He would watch the films about martial arts prodigy Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and his rivalry with bully Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) with his pals Josh Heald and Hayden Schlossberg, and even then “we had this fascination” with Johnny. So as adults, the three of them decided that a television series would be the perfect way to “delve into the life and mind” of this character and find out “what’s going on” with Daniel too. Watch our exclusive video interview with Hurwitz, Heald and Schlossberg above.
Set 35 years after the events of the first film, the YouTube Originals series revisits Daniel and Johnny in middle age but still kicking butt. Johnny has restarted the Cobra Kai dojo to teach young kids to fight, while Daniel is trying to find balance in his life after the death of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (played in the films by Oscar nominee Pat Morita). The series, which earned an Emmy bid last year for its stunt coordination, just wrapped up its second season and has been renewed for a third.
Schlossberg believes there are “universal truths” within the original films that still resonate today. “In some ways, it is a time capsule of the 1980s, and that’s where some fun nostalgia kicks in on our show,” he says. But what connects it to people of every age is the fact that “there’s always something that is bullying you in your life, and you have to overcome that. That is a story that I think works for every generation.”
In the beginning, Heald explains, the challenge was to “bring the audience into our vision for where these characters were 35 years later.” But the show doesn’t rely on just the relationship between its two main characters. “Through catching up with them, we start to meet this next generation” who “are going through a lot of the same things that Johnny and Daniel were dealing with back in the day,” he explains.
Prior to creating “Cobra Kai,” Hurwitz and Schlossberg penned the scripts for “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004), its three sequels, and “American Reunion” (2012). Heald also wrote “Hot Tub Time Machine” (2010) and its 2015 sequel.
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