Cobra Kai has steadily brought back everyone from the Karate Kid films. Cobra Kai Season 5 has shown Sean Kanan returning as Mike Barnes from The Karate Kid III. One major star still in the wings for Cobra Kai is Hilary Swank. Swank starred in 1994’s The Next Karate Kid as Julie Pierce, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita)’s new student.
Cobra Kai creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet on Aug. 16. Though they won’t commit on upcoming guest stars, we asked them their take on Swank, Pierce and The Next Karate Kid. Cobra Kai Season 5 premieres Sept. 9 on Netflix.
The ‘Cobra Kai’ creators caught ‘The Next Karate Kid’ on DVD
Ralph Macchio played Daniel LaRusso as a teenager in three films from 1984 – 1989. By the ‘90s he had outgrown the role and it was time for Mr. Miyagi to find a new student. Julie Pierce (Swank) was a troubled teen who found balance through his karate. While Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald followed the Karate Kid series, they were also busy when Next Karate Kid was in theaters.
“When that movie came out, we were definitely in the buying DVDs world that everybody was in,” Heald told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “We bought it, we were aware of it, we saw it. We watched it even together 20 years ago when we first moved to L.A. and were just starting to have the beginning feels of is there a Daniel and Johnny story that we could tell, this pie in the sky idea of doing this. So we were always aware of it.”
Hilary Swank and Julie Pierce are on the ‘Cobra Kai’ back burner
The Next Karate Kid wasn’t the hit the previous trilogy was. It was the only entry Robert Mark Kamen didn’t write and John G. Avildsen didn’t direct. Indeed, it was the last film until the trio brought it back as Cobra Kai. Still, there was merit to Mr. Miyagi discovering the unique needs of a female student.
“It wasn’t a movie that we returned to again and again and again with the same fervor that we did with the original trilogy,” Heald said. “But we soaked up and loved any bit of connection to that original series. Mr. Miyagi being part of that movie gave us the stamp of canon approval that okay, this is what happened.”
The Karate Kid III was a troubled production too, and Cobra Kai found new ways to make it relevant. So Next Karate Kid could get the same treatment one day.
“There are aspects of the movie, as there are aspects of The Karate Kid Part III that are tonally treated in a way that could be approached differently given a different medium,” Heald said. “We continue to talk about that movie. It wasn’t one that we became aware of at a later date.”
‘The Next Karate Kid’ was Hilary Swank’s big break
Before she was Two-time Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank, she was The Next Karate Kid. Her leading role in the sequel paved the way for Swank to join the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210. Then it was her 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry that won Swank her first Oscar (the second for Million Dollar Baby).
“It definitely introduced Hilary Swank,” Schlossberg said. “I remember when Boys Don’t Cry came out, I was like oh, she’s from The Next Karate Kid. It wasn’t like the movie of our childhood because I think we were in high school when it came out but it was enough of a thing. It popped enough that made Hilary Swank somebody that we noticed. tHen when her career became amazing it became a fun thing to look back on.”