(Plenty of SPOILERS from Cobra Kai will be found ahead.)
The last time we talked to Jacob Bertrand, his Cobra Kai character (Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz) was riding high off a win at the All Valley High Tournament. This iconic showdown, made famous decades ago by Daniel LaRusso’s crane kick in the first The Karate Kid movie, actually ended up going (as a whole) to the Cobra Kai dojo because ultimate karate villain Terry Silver cheated his ass off. And although Hawk had switched over to Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence’s Miyagi-do/Eagle Fang dojos, Evil ended up prevailing over Good. And that’s where Season 5 (which still has the “Eye Of The Tiger”) begins, and where Hawk finds himself out of practice because Miyagi-do shut down, which (of course) does not last forever.
Hawk has had quite a journey over the seasons. Given that he was born with a cleft lip, his scar led to a childhood of being bullied, which led him to become an even more menacing bully and even villainous at times. Yet Hawk managed to redeem himself (while also tragically losing his mohawk to Cobra Kai), and he’s now fighting to make things right between the dojos. It’s odd! Remember when he trashed Miyagi-do? The horror. And Jacob Bertrand (who cut his acting teeth in Community and Parks and Rec) gets to do all of these things in one of the show’s more textured roles. Jacob was gracious enough to speak with us about his character’s evolution, what he would snag from Terry Silver’s house, and what he wants to happen in a (hopeful) Season 6.
There are so many younger characters on this show, but Hawk is one of the most developed of the bunch.
I would say that my character out of a lot of them — especially after being a guest star and then being brought on as a series regular — definitely got at least an arc every single season, and that’s something that’s kind-of crazy to me. After we wrapped Season 3, I thought I’d probably be coasting through the tournament. I’m always surprised with what they come up with, and I’m definitely grateful.
So let’s start with Hawk’s evolution. What’s it like toning him down, where he’s almost a pussycat?
It is very different, and I feel almost like I went from driving a sports car, and now it’s like, I’m in a Prius. It’s a really nice Prius, but it goes kinda slow, but it’s been fun. It’s cool because I got to film with a lot of different people than I used to. That’s probably the highlight, you know, getting to film with Ralph and being on the Miyagi-do set. Obviously, being the new guy there does have the highest of highs. I got to win that tournament, so being the new guy definitely has its perks.
Looking at social media, I think the overriding sentiment was that Hawk got done dirty this season, at least in his fight with Kenny and that horrible punch.
Oooooh, so the writers will usually set us down at the beginning at every season. We all have a 1-on-1 meeting with them, and they will tell us the arc of our season, what they’re planning on doing with our character and just kind-of get our thoughts about it. And they were like, “Yeah, you know, Hawk is coming off his big win, and he’s feeling very confident. There’s a lot of people looking up to him, and he really feels that pressure as a role model. And towards the end of the season, there’s a lot of fighting, and he loses to Kenny in this sort-of mock tournament.” And I was like, “Okay. Was Hawk poisoned or something? How does this happen? Is his arm chopped off, and in what world?”
Yeah, I’ll bet that it didn’t totally track to you.
They were making Kenny out to be this karate prodigy, “and Miyagi-do’s been shut down, and you haven’t been training, and he has this secret move,” and I was like, “Okay? I don’t know if I see it, but ya know, we’ll see how we get there.” I’m super competitive with Hawk, and I think he’s the best. And I think he’s the best out of all of them!
You’re not alone in that belief, for sure.
Yeah! He just won the tournament, but I think from a story point of view, I think that moment makes a lot of sense. And it also sets up how Robby also gets hit with that during the last episode. And I think that seeing my reaction and how I kind-of crumble, when you see Robby get hit with that, and all the Cobra Kai guys were like, “Oh sh*t!” That raises the stakes, but I’m excited to see what happens with Season 6 and what happens with the Kenny character. He’s almost realized that, “Oh, you know, I was in the wrong the whole time. Everyone was trying to pull me out of this.” There were scenes of people telling him that Cobra Kai is dangerous. Tanner is trying to pull him out of Cobra Kai, and it shows you how that unfolds with Kenny.
And about that move that Kenny put on everybody…
Oh yeah, the Silver Bullet.
Did they tell you ahead of time that’s what it was? Or was it a mystery — did you wonder if it was the crane kick or something of that nature?
No, they told me right away what it was and that Silver was teaching him a secret technique called the Silver Bullet. This punch that takes your breath away. And I was like, “Huh, that’s crazy, I can hold my breath for a very long time.”
Does that move really exist?
Noooo, no. It’s totally like a Cobra Kai-type thing.
Yes, like the crane kick. I talked to Thomas Ian Griffith about how that move is so telegraphed, it’s crazy that it works every time Daniel uses it.
Seriously! I think it’s just like you’re in that world. These types of things happen in the world that these writers have built, so yeah. I think you do suspend your belief and you really commit to what’s going on, and I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult. I definitely hate losing, so I think that’s the more difficult part.
You mentioned the words “Season 6” a minute ago. We haven’t heard about it officially, but I can’t see how they won’t have a Season 6.
Oh my god. I want there to be a Season 6 so bad. This is my dream, that I somehow am linked up with Kreese, fresh out of prison. We start some illegal ring of some sort, and I go back to the bad side. I’m kidding, but I think it would be so cool if we got a Season 6, and we actually got to go to some crazy world tournament. And actually go to Brazil or something and not like it have it be, “Oh we’re in Brazil! But it’s really just a basement studio in Atlanta.”
They could give Hawk a spinoff where he opens his own dojo. Dimitri could be the business guy.
Yeah! Hawk could punch all the kids in the face, and Dimitri could run the money.
Speaking of these two, I was looking at Reddit, which has the most insane fan theories. I think my most-and-least favorite is that Dimitri is actually Hawk’s father.
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess that would be news to me!
And people want Terry Silver to be several people’s father.
I mean, that would be a perfect and awesome twist, though. My dad, or secretly Xolo’s dad. He’s looking for Terry Silver in Mexico the whole time!
Let’s go back to Hawk as a bad guy. I mean, when he purposefully broke Dimitri’s arm…
…Oh man, that was the best!
But were you shocked? That’s so extreme.
I was more shocked when I heard that I had trashed Miyagi-do and then I go to the good side. I was like, “Oh my god, they’re all gonna hate me!” How was I gonna make this work? They said that was the point. When I was breaking the arm, I was knee-deep in being a bad guy, so I thought, “Of course, this is naturally the progression of these things.” It was more like, “We’re going deeper.”
You’ve been in show biz for much of your life, but the paparazzi are starting to trail you. How do you cope? And how have none of the people on this show gone off the rails yet?
Hey, no one has gone off the rails just yet. There’s always time, c’mon. Just give us that. But the paparazzi’s weird. It’s only happened a couple of times, and the first time it happened to me, I was like so shocked and nervous that I kind of just spilled too much. And I feel like that’s what happens with most people’s first time. It’s a weird thing because I don’t wanna be like mean or rude, and at the same time, I genuinely value my privacy. For me, it’s super rare or random, and I have no idea how these people deal with it all the time and don’t get angry or caught on camera yelling at people constantly. If it started happening more, I think I would start leaving my house less. Or this is more likely to happen. I would be like master of disguise. I’d walk around like a turtle or something.
I think people are also more aware of paparazzi as a thing these days. It’s not like when Britney Spears was being followed, and it was chaotic and no one really intervened. Now the paparazzi know they’re being watched as well.
Yeah, I definitely think it’s easier now. You know, when Britney Spears was really big — now there’s a lot of other famous people — but then it was like, oh, it’s Britney. And now there are so many shows and so many people to follow. So they could take a picture of me, but I bet you 50 bucks that, literally on the next block, there’s probably someone way more famous walking around. That’s what I’ll bet on.
Alright, we’re outta time, but if you could, both as Eli and Jacob, take one thing from Terry Silver’s house, what would it be?
I’d nab a smoothie machine for sure.
[Laughs] I would probably take, realistically, one of his amazing, super-rare swords. And then on the way, snatch the keys to his Ferrari. I’m sure that he’s got so many cars, so he probably won’t notice that any of them are gone.
He’s a little busy right now, so he won’t notice anything.
Yeah! Stuck in prison.
Thank you for your time, but we didn’t get to talk about your charity work with Smile Train.
Oh they’re the best, and I appreciate you talking about them last time.
Season 5 of ‘Cobra Kai’ is currently streaming on Netflix.