‘Cobra Kai’: Martin Kove Wants to Show John Kreese’s Vulnerability

Cobra Kai shows how John Kreese (Martin Kove) still terrorizes Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka) as adults. The show has added dimension to the Karate Kid movie villain, but Kove wants more. He described his vision for a more vulnerable Kreese if Cobra Kai lets him. 

'Cobra Kai': John Kreese (Martin Kove) kneels on the sidewalk in front of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio)
L-R: Ralph Macchio and Martin Kove | Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

Kove hosts his own podcast, Kicking It with the Koves. In the April 27 episode, Kove’s son, Jesse, asked him about Kreese’s vulnerability. Here’s what he would do if he was writing Cobra Kai. Season 5 premieres Sept. 9.

Martin Kove: Vulnerable villains are ‘more interesting’

Cobra Kai has flashed back to Kreese’s tour in Vietnam, and found him living in a homeless shelter. Kove thinks the more vulnerable Kreese can be, the more charming he’ll be. 

“I think the character is more interesting when he’s a little more charming,” Kove said on Kicking It with the Koves. “Any character shows a different side of what’s most prominent. So a character’s a villain, it’s quite effective to show you being charming.”

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Kove related it to the James Bond movie villains. The villain of Never Say Never Again in particular embodied Kove’s vision for a charming Kreese. 

“I remember Bond villains, there was an actor named Klaus Maria Brandauer and the villains in Bond movies were so evil,” Kove said. “But when they showed a side of being charming and loving and textured it with positive emotions, it was very interesting to watch them. But ultimately they were villains and they had their own selfish problems and their own selfish outcomes.”

Martin Kove wants to do this on ‘Cobra Kai’ for selfish reasons 

Kove admitted that he also just likes to play vulnerability. However, it wouldn’t be wrong for Cobra Kai necessarily. 

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A lot of it is just all about ego because I like to play the softness. I enjoy playing the characters that aren’t so tough. I really enjoy that and that’s just the actor in me. I remember the writers saying they write so that they always want to know why every character in Cobra Kai does what he does. And the why is what each one of these writers asks themselves when they’re writing a character. Why is he doing this? Why is he like this? Why is Billy like this? Why is John Kreese? They focus on that so they’ll get to you and explain why you do X and why you do Y. 

Martin Kove, Kicking It with the Koves, 4/27/22

‘Cobra Kai’ could make John Kreese even more formidable if they listen to Martin Kove

Kreese keeps getting the upper hand on Cobra Kai. It wouldn’t negate that to allow Kove to indulge more of his vulnerability. 

“From an actor’s standpoint, I think it’s fun to play the vulnerability and the sadness,” Kove said. “It’s not really weak to me. It’s strong when you throw vulnerability into a character and he’s willing to expose himself to you. At the same time, he’s just a very vindictive human being. It’s kind of interesting to see that. That’s kind of a long answer but it appeals to the character to show vulnerability and it also appeals to the actor to be able to do it because it’s colorful. It’s just very colorful. I think people enjoy seeing characters who are more colorful.”

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