io9 Interviews Unhealthy Boy Sean Kanan

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Mike Barnes looks shocked in Cobra Kai.

Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) will get sucked again right into a story he thought he’d left behind.
Screenshot: Netflix

In a present in regards to the villain of the primary Karate Child film that options the villain from the Karate Child sequel, you simply knew the villain of Karate Child half three needed to present up ultimately. And this yr? Cobra Kai delivered. The fifth season of the hit present is now on Netflix and it features a stunning story arc for Mike Barnes, “Karate’s Unhealthy Boy,” who was employed by the evil Terry Silver within the third movie to defeat the Karate Child himself, Daniel LaRusso. In fact, Barnes loses that match and we by no means hear from him within the film once more.

The identical can’t be stated, nonetheless, for the actor who performed him. His identify is Sean Kanan, and Kanan turned enjoying that slimy karate bully into an extended profession that started on cleaning soap operas like Common Hospital and The Daring and the Lovely, and has continued in roles each in entrance of and behind the digital camera. io9 spoke to him final week about lastly returning to the position that made him a star: Karate’s Unhealthy Boy, Mike Barnes.

barnes in fighting stance

Barnes is again
Picture: Netflix

Germain Lussier, io9: So once I watched this season, it had not but been revealed you had been in it. And so if you confirmed up, it was like “Sure! They lastly did it. They lastly accomplished it.” I’ve been asking [Cobra Kai creators] Jon [Hurwitz], Hayden [Schlossberg], and Josh [Heald] “The place’s Mike Barnes? The place’s Mike Barnes?” for like 4 seasons now.

Sean Kanan: You and me each.

io9: [Laughs] Sure, precisely. Effectively, that’s my first query. When did you first hear in regards to the present, and was your fast thought, “May I be on it”? 

Kanan: Yeah. I imply, look. Clearly it was in all of the trades. Everybody knew about it. I used to be very excited simply that the present was going to occur as a result of I assumed it was a terrific concept. I believe everyone wished to attend and see what the execution was, and it was flawless. And naturally, instantly that’s once I began getting the questions just about on a weekly foundation. Dozens of individuals at first and it will definitely snowballed into tons of of individuals every week asking. So, you realize, it took a minute, however higher late than by no means.

Barnes and his former rival, Daniel.

Barnes and his former rival, Daniel.
Screenshot: Netflix

io9: So did you get contacted only for the season? Or had you talked to the creators a pair seasons earlier than to say like, “Hey, we’re engaged on it?” Mainly, was there ever a clue that you just’d be on this season earlier than you formally signed?

Kanan: I had some contact with [producer] Josh Heald instructed about it. And, the one factor that they stated, and I actually revered, is that they wished to convey individuals in organically. It wasn’t cameo, stunt-casting stuff, which I actually appreciated. And, true to the phrase, I believe that we got here up with a very nice arc and story for the return of the “Unhealthy Boy of Karate.”

io9: So how did they pitch the position to you? Do they simply ship you a script? Did they inform you what the concept was? And the way a lot enter did you get to get to have all of it, if in any respect?

Kanan: We had a Zoom assembly, [producers] Jon [Hurwitz] and Josh, and myself. Hayden [Schlossberg] couldn’t make it. And so they had been great. They requested me what a few of my concepts had been and actually the one factor I stated was, “Look, far be it from me to dictate plot to you guys.” I stated the one issues that I’d request respectfully are first, that the character isn’t the one-dimensional thug that he was within the movie. And that was very a lot by design. That’s what [director] John Avildsen wished and so I gave him what he wished. However now 34, 35 years down the road, as each an actor and an individual, I wished to ensure that we had been in a position to convey much more dimension and colours to the character. And I additionally stated, probably the most good issues about Cobra Kai is the humor. And as a man that does arise and comedy, it was essential to me to place a comedic spin on the position once I might. And I believe we additionally had been in a position to do this.

Observe: The remainder of the interview has spoilers for Barnes’ position within the season.

Image for article titled The Bad Boy of Karate Speaks! We Chatted With Cobra Kai's Sean Kanan

Barnes very very mad

Barnes returns within the season finale.
Screenshot: Netflix

io9: Oh, completely It’s so sudden and nice. And clearly I think about furnishings salesman was not one thing you ever imagined.

Kanan: In order that’s the half I didn’t actually get. They had been pitching that concept to me and it wasn’t crystallizing. I stated, “Look, no matter it’s that you just guys take note of, I do know it’s going to be good. I’m in. Let’s do that.” I believe we had a Zoom assembly in like July or August even. And I used to be in Atlanta filming in September.

io9:  Oh, wow. So it was quick.

Kanan: It moved in a short time.

io9: In all of the years since The Karate Child Half III, and particularly when Cobra Kai began and also you began getting the questions on coming again, did you may have any concept in your thoughts what Mike is likely to be doing?

Kanan: That’s an excellent query. So I at all times questioned what occurred to this man as a result of he was a 17-year-old child, clearly nonetheless very malleable and life might take him in numerous totally different instructions. So I figured both he continued to go down the trail of sociopathy that he had began on and possibly wound up in jail. Or possibly, he wound up going into the navy and sort of getting straightened out and getting a way of honor and possibly even changing into an officer. The perfect one which I ever heard, although, was someone stated, wouldn’t it’s humorous if Daniel and Johnny needed to go to court docket mandated anger administration counseling and Barnes was the counselor? And I assumed that was fairly good.

barnes in cobra kai gear

Kanan in The Karate Child Half III
Screenshot: Sony

io9: Was there something minimize out of Karate Child III or that you just shot that spoke to any of that or knowledgeable his character in any respect?

Kanan: To the very best of my information, no, there have been no different scenes that talked about Mike’s background. In an ideal world, I believe it could have been actually cool to have Mike actually articulate that what he was doing to Daniel was not private. That it was all based mostly on enterprise. And the rationale he was doing it was as a result of he wanted cash for his household. I believe that may have given it numerous depth and I believe it could have been a simple repair. Yeah. However, once more, it wasn’t the Mike Barnes story. It was the story about Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.

io9: I only in the near past rewatched Karate Child III, which I are likely to do if it’s on, and I forgot that Mike negotiated 50% of Cobra Kai from Terry Silver. I noticed issues would have been very totally different on this present had you received that match.

Kanan: That’s proper. And Mike brings that up and says, hey, pay attention, I insisted they put within the contract. So there may be apparently a contract someplace.

johnny barnes and chozen.

Right here to mess up Thanos.
Screenshot: Netflix

io9: Sure, precisely. Okay, I would like discuss in regards to the finale. I couldn’t consider what I used to be seeing as a result of clearly you’re away for a pair episodes after which we get what I’m calling “Karate Child: Endgame,” the place you get all major villains from the Karate Child movies collectively to combat one individual. Did you ever suppose, in all these years, that you’d find yourself on display with all of these guys, and what was it wish to movie that?

Kanan: No, I didn’t suppose that I’d be on with all of them. I didn’t have any concept how they might create a bridge between Mike Barnes and Chozen which I believe is incredible. Nevertheless it was nice. , I do know Yuji [Okumoto] and Billy [Zabka], I’ve recognized him for years. Yuji was simply in my hometown of Newcastle, Pennsylvania, for a martial arts match a few years in the past. And so these are guys that I do know, and to lastly have the ability to work with them in spite of everything these years was terrific. And I’ve to say, I actually thought that the 4 of us had a very enjoyable, attention-grabbing chemistry collectively.

io9: Oh, completely. So what was it like on set? Was it enjoyable? It should’ve been tough to shoot, since there’s numerous numerous choreography.

Kanan: Yeah, it was actually among the finest filming experiences I’ve ever had. It was enjoyable. We labored exhausting, however the guys had been nice, like I stated. Ralph [Macchio] and Billy and Yuji, terrific working with them. There was a sort of a “pinch me” high quality to it. Even Ralph and I at one level we checked out one another, and go “Are you able to consider this?” I imply, 34, 35 years later, right here we’re doing this once more. And, I’ve stated this earlier than, however it was so good to have the chance to get to re-meet Ralph as an grownup now and join with him on a really totally different stage then as this brash 22-year-old child enjoying his nemesis all these years in the past.

Barnes and Johnny

Barnes and Johnny
Screenshot: Netflix

io9: That’s so cool. Now, as soon as you probably did signal on in, was it tough retaining the key? How did you handle that?

Kanan: It was very tough. I used to be getting requested always by everyone, and all I saved saying is “Maintain the religion and we will see.”

io9: Lastly, we don’t know what season six goes to carry, and Mike’s story appears fairly effectively wrapped up. But when they requested you to come back again, would you want to come back again? Do you suppose there’s nonetheless extra for the character?

Kanan: In a heartbeat. I’d like it.

Cobra Kai season 5 is now on Netflix.


Need extra io9 information? Try when to anticipate the newest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on movie and TV, and all the things that you must find out about Home of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy.

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