‘Cobra Kai’: John Kreese Actor Martin Kove Wishes He Could ‘Be a Female Warrior Like Tory’

On Cobra Kai, John Kreese (Martin Kove) is a tough man to please. You have to be a warrior to earn his respect. That’s why it says a lot that Tory (Peyton List) is one of his prized students. Kove even said he wishes he could play Tory, which is a progressive position that might even surprise Kreese himself. 

'Cobra Kai': John Kreese stands outside with Tory and Hawk
L-R: Peyton List, Martin Kove, and Jacob Bertrand | Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

Kove spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone on Aug. 23. Speaking about Kreese’s bond with Tory, Kove admitted she’s the role he would want to play if not Kreese. We’ll have more with Kove and the cast of Cobra Kai before Season 5 premieres Sept. 9 on Netflix.

Why Martin Kove would be happy to play a female character on ‘Cobra Kai’

Kove didn’t just offer this out of the box casting out of the blue. Making convention appearances for Cobra Kai, it’s a question he gets asked a lot. 

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“I’m often asked at these conventions what character you’d like to play if he wasn’t John Kreese,” Kove told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Sometimes I think of the king of irreverence which is Johnny Lawrence and sometimes I think I’d like to be a female warrior like Tory. My favorite part in that Wonder Woman group is those amazons. There’s just a prowess behind them, the courage behind them.”

Martin Kove has a history with female warriors

Kove may play macho characters like Kreese, but he says in his real life, he’s drawn to strong women. Even before The Karate Kid, Kove was a regular on Cagney & Lacey.

“Even when I was doing Cagney & Lacey, I always thought, contrary to my character, but I always thought a woman could do everything a man could do,” Kove said. “I never thought anything different. My mother was always the most dominant woman in my family. My mother, much more than my father, would make all the decisions and make more money than my father, always. I was brought up that way and it stayed with me. So there’s always a preference to the female warrior.”

Maybe John Kreese would approve Martin Kove’s gender free ‘Cobra Kai’ casting 

Kreese seems like a traditional guy who believes in winners and losers, hence his position “mercy is for the weak.” However, Kove thinks Kreese is not too far out from appreciating female warriors like he does. 

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“A little bit, not much because to him, a woman, it’s a man’s world because of the macho and the soldiers and the guns and all those things that affected him mostly in the 70s,” Kove said. “But as time continues we’re learning more about the prowess of women and he’s learning because he’s quick to learn and he’s got to improvise on his feet now because he’s out. So he really has to pay attention to the times.”

The Cobra Kais were all boys in The Karate Kid, but in Cobra Kai, Kreese has observed the power of women. 

When he visits her apartment and he realizes what a mensch she is on top of standing up for herself as a warrior coming to the dojo, those are qualities that he needs to see in Cobra Kai. If you’re Stingray, he’s not interested in having a student like that but to see a woman, the warrior come in and have such personal problems and maintain a variety of occupations just to pay the bills, that’s why he invites her to come play in the dojo for nothing because it’s all he could do at this point. He can’t keep her but he can offer that because the level of respect he has for her being a human being and for being a potential success in his dojo. So it’s an all win situation for John Kreese.

Martin Kove, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 8/23/22

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