‘Cobra Kai’ – Xolo Maridueña on Season 2 and Miguel’s Popularity with Fans

If you talk about The Karate Kid, people are likely to mention Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, maybe Johnny Lawrence too. If you talk about Cobra Kai, people are likely to mention Miguel. Xolo Maridueña’s character became the breakout star of the Karate Kid series, Johnny’s first student in the reopened Cobra Kai dojo.

Miguel had his own sweep the leg moment in the 2018 All Valley Karate tournament in Cobra Kai season one. He won by exploiting his opponent’s shoulder injury. This might be just what Johnny (played by William Zabka) needs to learn that Cobra Kai’s “no mercy” philosophy is not good sportsmanship, but is it too late for Miguel?

YouTube Red’s Cobra Kai season two premieres on April 24, 2019.

If you could fight anyone from your former series, Parenthood, who would it be?

Xolo Maridueña: “Craig T. Nelson. I feel like that would be the coolest story. I don’t feel like I would win, just because the sheer intimidation – the intimidation factor that he brings on the set. But it’s funny because Craig T. is one of the only people who I feel like would kick my ass and still make me feel bad about it. He is the most down-to-earth person I’ve ever met, and I feel like he would punch me in the face and I’d be like, ‘I’m so sorry. I apologize for whatever you’ve done.’

I love him. He’s Mr. Incredible and it’s funny because the year before I booked Parenthood I dressed up as Mr. Incredible. And probably the first two years of filming I had no idea that he was Mr. Incredible. It wasn’t until I think our last season filming that I went up to him and I was like, ‘You’re… I love The Incredibles!’ And it’s a run-on joke that he always used to do Mr. Incredible’s voice which I didn’t understand until recently is just his voice. And now when I saw the second Incredibles, all I could see was him doing the lines in it. And it didn’t ruin it for me, but it was kind of just like, ‘Oh gosh,’ you know? But he’s such an amazing person.”

Who would win between Craig T. Nelson and Martin Kove?

Xolo Maridueña: “I think Martin would win.”

Would Martin cheat?

Xolo Maridueña: “I don’t know. Martin is one of those guys, you know, I said Craig was intimidating…when I first met Martin, when he walked into the room the ambience changed. It was one of those things where it was like nobody – we’re not afraid of him but it was something is different, you know?

I met him and he has the most firm handshake ever. I’m like, ‘You’re someone not to be messed with.’ So just because of that. But it’s like he lives this life. He just lives and breathes someone who is awesome, and because of that I feel like I have to go with him.”

People have really responded to Miguel in this series. What has that meant to you and what do you think they respond to?

Xolo Maridueña: “I think, and this goes for all of the young adults on the show, I think everyone can relate to them in some way or another. Hawk, Miguel, Aisha, and Robby, all of these characters – like someone was saying during our panel, they come from grey areas. You don’t watch this show and say, ‘This is the good guy and this is the bad guy.’ I think that’s something that a lot of us can relate to being that when you face these situations a lot of times, you’re like, ‘I agree with both parties. To be quite honest, I don’t know who I should be rooting for.’

But being a character who is vulnerable and being a character who is not the stereotypical macho kind of guy, it’s refreshing. It’s wonderful to be able to you know at the very end of the season do a total 180. It’s so awesome.”

How irredeemable is the situation with Sam?

Xolo Maridueña: “That’s one of the things that I hear about… you know, the comment that I see the most is we want Miguel and Sam together again. And going into season two, I think we’re going to see that it’s not irredeemable but both parties have a lot of learning to do about each and have a lot of growing to do as people before they’re ready for that.”

Cobra Kai Xolo Mariduena and William Zabka
William Zabka and Xolo Maridueña in ‘Cobra Kai’ season 1 (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)

Where do we pick up with Miguel in season two?

Xolo Maridueña: “We ended last season with him doing a total 180 and really using the ‘strike hard, strike first, no mercy’ mantra, blood in blood out. What he wants more than anything is to win not only for Cobra Kai but for Johnny Lawrence. Johnny is very much a father figure to Miguel and all that Miguel wants to do is make him proud. Sometimes that means doing things that aren’t necessarily respected in the competition environment and doing what you have to be to win.

In Miguel’s mind he doesn’t see that as the wrong thing; he sees it as, ‘I’m doing this. Aren’t you proud of me? I won. This is what we’ve been talking about for as long as we can remember. Aren’t you proud of me?’

We saw in a teaser that came out for season two he’s not proud of Miguel and he’s not proud of Hawk for doing what they did. It’s not a slap in the face but it definitely is a wake-up call in being that Miguel is like, ‘Oh shoot, maybe I was going down the wrong path. Let’s do some recorrection. Let’s take a few steps back and try to figure out, gather our bearings and see where we’re going to next.’”

Is there going to be any crossover in maybe season three with the Jackie Chan universe?

Xolo Maridueña: “That universe? The Jaden Smith/Jackie Chan? I would love to. I feel like I really enjoyed the Jaden Smith Karate Kid. I actually just met Jaden Smith for the first time recently and he’s exactly what I envisioned him like. I think in pop culture the only thing I see about him is that he’s very otherworldly and he has all these conspiracy theories, and he’s just like that in real life so that was really refreshing. But I would love to. I mean, obviously I am in no way in charge of that and if it does happen, I’m not trying to spoil anything. It would be a total coincidence if it did, but yeah, I would love to.”

So who would win – you or Jaden?

Xolo Maridueña: “He can do the splits. He can do the splits at like 12 years old. I feel like just out of pure humbleness I would have to say Jaden Smith.”

Did anybody recognize you at the Kids Choice Awards because you’ve got the beard now?

Xolo Maridueña: “Yeah, I’ve got the facial hair or the couple hairs that I do have on my chin. I have the scruff and I look like a little rat right now. But it definitely is different. It’s funny that you say that because even now I get recognized more from Parenthood than I do Cobra Kai. I think that’s because outside of when I’m not filming Cobra Kai I look so different. I mean, you guys are looking at me here right now; I have way longer hair than I do in Cobra Kai, I have glasses on, I have the couple of hairs on my face.

But when I do it’s the coolest thing ever to see people. It’s the only environment where you’re talking to someone face to face and they just say, ‘I love the show’ or ‘Why did you do that?’

I feel like social media is such an easy outlet to do that. But when you put a phone in front of someone’s face, they just say whatever they want and a lot of the time it’s the negative stuff. And seeing someone in person, they’re like, ‘Wow. This part and this part and this part.’ And there’s no other area where you get to do that. So, I really appreciate it. If anyone ever does see me, don’t be afraid to walk up.”

Is the training and action harder in season two?

Xolo Maridueña: “Yeah, so in season one you establish the characters. Season two we know who everyone is. There’s a couple of characters that are brought in here and there. The stakes are raised, for sure. There’s more fighting, there’s more action, there’s more drama, and most of all there’s more rivalry.”

So, your jacket (with Public Enemy on it) isn’t a giveaway as to where your character’s going this season?

Xolo Maridueña: “No. I just love Public Enemy – that’s what it was. I’m not spoiling anything when I say that season two is going to be phenomenal.”