How to Get Cast on ‘Cobra Kai’

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Photo Source: Mark Hill/YouTube Originals/Sony Pictures Television

It’s almost time to get back in the dojo—where pain, fear, and defeat don’t exist. Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” has put the pedal to the metal (and kicks to the face) for four hit seasons, with Season 5 coming sooner than you might think, since they wrapped production in December 2021. 

While the last of the casting calls were posted in late January 2021, there are plans for the show to run for up to six seasons, according to Daniel-san himself, co-star Ralph Macchio. And as long as “Cobra Kai” keeps at it, the more opportunities you’ll have to suit up, flex your belt, and join the hit series. In this in-depth guide to getting cast on the action-packed Netflix series, we’ll share audition tips from current cast members—plus insights about open auditions and casting calls to get you ready for future seasons of “Cobra Kai.”

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“Cobra Kai” Plot Summary

Season 1 of “Cobra Kai” picks up 34 years after the events of the original “Karate Kid” film, in which underdog Daniel LaRusso bested martial arts bully Johnny Lawrence in the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. Johnny, now in his 50s, is a washed-up handyman with a son and ex-wife he abandoned years earlier. Seeking redemption, he reopens the old Cobra Kai dojo, where he once trained under the villainous John Kreese. 

The revived dojo attracts a group of bullied outcasts who look to the sensei for new confidence and aggressive techniques. Meanwhile, Daniel—now the owner of a successful chain of car dealerships—is mentoring students, one of which is Johnny’s estranged son, at the newly reopened Miyagi-Do dojo. Soon, the Johnny-Daniel rivalry is reignited. Season 2 ends with a blowout brawl at the school, pitting Cobra Kai students against Miyagi-Do students. 

In Season 3, Johnny and Daniel join forces to face Kreese and his Cobra Kai dojo. Kreese eventually agrees to settle their differences at the All Valley Championship: whoever loses leaves the valley for good. “Obviously, we’ve set a challenge at the end of Season 3 that sort of gives everybody their marching orders,” says co-creator Josh Heald. “So the fun of Season 4 is going to be starting to decide will these guys actually be able to stay on that path that they’ve now decided to embark on together.”

In Season 4, Johnny and Daniel’s relationship is tenuous, as they realize their fighting philosophies are very different. Their tension-filled relationship builds throughout the season and culminates in the annual All Valley Championship. 

“Cobra Kai” was created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg and is based on “The Karate Kid” film franchise, which was created and written by Robert Mark Kamen. Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg also serve as executive producers of the series—as do Will Smith, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, and Susan Ekins. The show premiered on YouTube Red in 2018 and moved to Netflix in June 2020.

When does filming for “Cobra Kai” Season 5 start?

Showrunner Jon Hurtwitz tweeted on Dec.19 that Season 5 filming has already wrapped. “Five. Fin. #ByeAtlanta #CobraKai” he shared alongside a picture of himself on a plane. One of the show’s producers Josh Heald also confirmed to Screen Rant that Season 5 would not be the last. “We have more beyond Season 5. We are not writing to the end of the series in Season 5 right now. We can't believe we've filmed two seasons of the show this year,” Heald divulged. “In our minds, it's crazy to believe how far ahead of the story we are than what the audience has seen so far. Season 5 is another enormous season with a lot of new flavors and a lot of things that you haven't seen before yet on the show. And it's not the end.” Heald also confirmed that they’ve begun work on Season 6, telling Collider “We’re still writing beyond Season 5.” There is no word on when that season will begin production.

“Cobra Kai” Season 5 Auditions + Open Casting Calls

There are no active casting calls or auditions for “Cobra Kai” Season 5 or 6. But be sure to check out our list of fight-friendly projects similar to “Cobra Kai'' that are now casting—and keep an eye on Backstage for future opportunities to join the show. For those interested in learning what type of roles were previously cast, we’ve got you covered. In January 2021, the casting directors for “Cobra Kai” were on the hunt for actors, photo doubles, background extras, and stand-ins to join the production of Season 4 in Atlanta. These new roles included:

  • Mean Kid (Recurring): According to the casting call, this particular actor “will work several dates throughout the season” and should have open availability for the role. CDs were looking for someone who was male and 18 and older but looked younger. The pay rate was listed as $150 for 12 hours with numerous mandatory COVID-19 testing appointments available.
  • Skateboarding Teens: Any ethnicity and gender. Must be able to skateboard well and bring their own gear. The CDs were looking for those who were 16 or 17 years old and able to bring with them a note with emergency contact information and signed permission from a guardian. The pay rate was listed as $80 for 8 hours and mandatory COVID-19 testing was available in Atlanta.

Though these roles have already been cast, “Cobra Kai” has plans to run for at least a few more seasons—so make sure to stay in fighting shape. Keep in mind that for speaking roles in big projects, such as Netflix shows and feature films, auditions typically come through agents rather than a public casting call. Don’t have an agent? Here’s a guide to landing representation.

Who is in the cast of “Cobra Kai”?

The primary cast of “Cobra Kai” Season 4 consists of:

  • William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
  • Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso
  • Martin Kove as John Kreese
  • Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz
  • Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso
  • Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene
  • Jacob Bertrand as Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz
  • Peyton List as Tory Nichols
  • Gianni DeCenzo as Demetri
  • Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso
  • Vanessa Rubio as Carmen Diaz
  • Dallas Dupree Young as Kenny
  • Oona O’Brien as Devon

Who is the “Cobra Kai” casting director?

Since its first season, the primary casting directors for “Cobra Kai” have been Alexis Frank Koczara and Christine Smith Shevchenko of Koczara/Shevchenko Casting. Since 2005, the duo has assembled talent on numerous television projects, including “Black-ish,” “Fuller House,” and “The Muppets.” While this series obviously brought back several actors from the original “Karate Kid” film, casting the right new talent around the veterans was crucial to the success of “Cobra Kai.”

How to Audition for “Cobra Kai”

Before COVID struck, the auditions for “Cobra Kai” were done the old-fashioned way: in person and through self-tapes. For Mary Mouser (Samantha LaRusso), who has been acting since she was five years old, it was just another audition—this time to read for the role of the daughter of someone named Daniel LaRusso. She had never seen “The Karate Kid” movies. “I did my initial audition and thought, ‘Oh I think that went well,’ but of course you think a lot of them go well and they go nowhere,” Mouser recalls. “Then I ended up getting a callback, then I got to the screen test level and after finding out that I booked it, I went in for a final read with…at the time, they were down to two Miguels. So, I had quite a few auditions!” She also did a chemistry read with her on-screen dad, Ralph Macchio.

For Xolo Maridueña (Miguel Diaz), the “Cobra Kai” audition came in as most auditions do, in an email with the breakdown of the roles and accompanying scripts. “To be quite honest, at that point, I hadn’t watched ‘The Karate Kid’ since I was around 4 or 5 years old; I did not remember it whatsoever,” he admits. So he did his research into the characters and who’d already been cast on the show. He auditioned and got a callback about a month later. “Usually, you hear [about] a callback within a week or two,” Mariduena says. “After the two-week mark came, I thought, ‘I probably didn’t get it, let’s move on to something else.’” When he showed up to his next audition, he was thrilled to find William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) in the room. “I tried to mask my excitement, not geek out, and do the audition,” he says. “We did it and a couple of weeks later, they told me I was going to Atlanta. It was really a fun audition sequence and very long. It was over two months that I was auditioning and testing out the project, but it was well worth it.”

Kurt Yue, whose varied résumé includes roles on “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Insatiable,”  took to his YouTube channel last September to explain how he got cast as George, a recurring role in Season 1 of “Cobra Kai.” Without auditioning for this particular role, he was notified through an email from his agent that the producers wanted to book him to play George. “It’s true I never auditioned for the role of George, but that doesn’t mean I never auditioned for the show,” Yue said in one of his videos. “I actually auditioned for ‘Cobra Kai’ three different times prior to being booked for the character of George. Now this is a really important lesson for people that are newer to acting, or new to the industry, because every single time that you audition, you’re never just auditioning for that one part. You are auditioning for future auditions. You may not fit the character that you initially auditioned for, but if you do a great job, even if you don’t book that role, the casting director will remember you and will try to find more roles for you and bring you back for more auditions. That’s exactly what happened to me on ‘Cobra Kai.’”

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Audition Tips for “Cobra Kai”

Wondering how to audition for the next season of “Cobra Kai”? Check out these tips from the current cast and Netflix CDs to ensure you go in prepared to “confront the enemy” that is auditioning:

Prepare to get physical. “When I auditioned, they didn’t really tell me I was going to be fighting,” says Peyton List, who plays badass Cobra Kai student Tory. “I didn’t really prepare for that. I just went in and read the scenes and then I got there, and my opening scene was a fight in the karate dojo, so I had to train. They gave me 45 minutes to learn that first fight sequence, and I had never fought before. I didn’t have any training, and so the first time I did it, I just remember feeling really silly. It was rough, but I did it. I committed. I remember feeling embarrassed, but then it all worked out.”

Bring the fury. William Zabka’s original audition for “The Karate Kid'' was intense, dedicated, and a little scary—for everybody else. Walking into the audition to play the film’s martial arts antagonist, he wasn’t sure he was the right guy for the job. “It was the iciest room ever,” Zabka recalls. “Everybody’s out-badassing the next guy. One of the rules of auditions...is ‘Don’t touch anybody.’ [But] I grabbed John [Avildsen, the director]...and I threw him down in his seat, and he’s still filming.” After the rush of the moment, he walked back into the audition room and apologized for going a little too method. At the end of the follow-up audition, he chatted with his future co-star Ralph Macchio about his performance. “He goes, ‘Well, I told the director everybody was great, but you legitimately scared the s*** out of me.”

Show a piece of yourself in the audition room. Allison Jones, the CD for Netflix’s “Master of None,” says individuality is a key part of a successful audition. “A different look is important,” she says. “A real look is important. What you really bring to the part is important. Bring something of yourself to the part because we’re looking for that.”

Have an online presence. Casting director Melissa Kostenbauder, who worked on Netflix’s “Unbelievable,” broke down her process for finding young actors for the streaming service’s teenager-centered shows. “We use various casting platforms and then sometimes you just randomly Google,” she says. “You get on there, you start looking. Very rarely do things turn up for us on Instagram or YouTube or whatever but you look there because it’s a resource. The idea is that we’re here to look and we’re here to find and however we can do that is how we do it.”

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