‘Cobra Kai’: Kyler Has a Simple Reason He Bullies, Joe Seo Says

Cobra Kai introduced a whole new generation of bullies. In its first season, Kyler (Joe Seo) was picking on Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), which led Miguel to Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka)’s dojo. Kyler returned as a Cobra Kai student in season 3. In a recent interview, Seo revealed the backstory of why Kyler bullies people that you don’t see on screen. 

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Cobra Kai Season 1 – 4.]

'Cobra Kai': Kyler (Joe Seo) bullies Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Seo knows why
L-R: Jacob Bertrand and Joe Seo as Kyler | Netflix

Seo was a guest on Cobra Kai star Martin Kove’s podcast Kicking It with the Koves on April 27. Getting into his character, Seo revealed the backstory he invented for Kyler. Kyler and Cobra Kai Season 5 return Sept. 9 on Netflix. 

Joe Seo created Kyler’s backstory in ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 1 

Cobra Kai gave Karate Kid characters Johnny and Kreese (Kove) much more depth than they had in the movies. They also created an entirely new generation of Karate kids in high school. So it was forgivable that Kyler may not have had a full backstory when Seo got the role.  

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“The character of Kyler in the beginning, very one-dimensional in a sense where he’s just always pissed off, like always mad,” Seo said on Kicking It with the Koves. “For me as an actor, I had to reason with it. There has to be a reason for this angst. There has to be a reason why he’s mad at Miguel. For me, I have to believe the reasons. So when I got that script, to me, he had problems at home, domestic problems. And I had to really show that there are reasons for Kyler’s behaving the way he does and I had to make all that up.”

Joe Seo gave Kyler one more motivation for ‘Cobra Kai’

Kyler pours Pepto Bismol on Miguel when Miguel rats on his fake ID at a liquor store. The more Kyler appeared in Cobra Kai, the more Seo leaned on another motivation for his character. 

As it progressed through season 3, 4, and on, the writers did write a little bit more for my back character. They even gave me a last name. So it just becomes a little bit more of a layer for Kyler that I could play with and mold. Yeah, I think that was kind of cool. It just gave me a better idea of where this guy’s coming from. It just made me pursue this side of Kyler as not only just someone who’s always pissed off, but he’s pissed off because he wants to have a good time. But if people are not allowing him to have a good time or they’re trying to deter him from a party or whatever it is, then he gets angry. I guess those are the buttons that push Kyler to do what he does. So I kind of used that as a motivating factor. 

Joe Seo, Kicking It with the Koves, 4/27/22

Further development may have to wait until season 6

Seo said Kyler’s party attitude has continued through season 4. His request for even more backstory suggests it may not yet come in Cobra Kai Season 5.

“Kyler’s always about having a good time,” Seo said. “No matter what the situation, he always looks at how can I start drinking out of this situation? Is there a situation where I can make this into a party? Even with Tory winning the tournament, I’m like hey, party at Kyler’s place. No matter what the situation, it’s always about let’s all have a good time. I’m just hoping that Kyler can also show there’s also layers of Kyler that shows he is human as well as in there’s really a lot of pain or whatever it is that he’s going through. That would just elevate the character even more.”

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