‘Cobra Kai’ star Jacob Bertrand swoops into Season 5, talks Hawk’s road to redemption and becoming Miyagi-Fang’s go-to competitor

Photo Credit: Irvin Rivera
This article contains spoilers from Seasons 1 - 5 of Netflix's Cobra Kai. 

Rivalries don’t need to last forever… or do they? Cobra Kai, a nearly 40-year follow-up to the 1984 martial arts drama The Karate Kid, has flourished since its release in 2018. Five seasons later, and the show has garnered over 100 millions hours viewed in its first week of releasing Season 5. The Netflix sequel stars the OG karate kid Ralph Macchio aka Daniel LaRusso and his Cobra Kai adversary Johnny Lawrence (played by William Sabka). The series follows an intricate story of past rivalries mixed with new ones, and feeds off of conflict, competitiveness and a whole lot of nostalgia. 

Among the next generation of karate kids is Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz, played by Jacob Bertrand. Eli is an outcast who quickly gets a taste of power, karate chopping his way through both Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do techniques, leading to his ultimate success in becoming men’s champion in the All Valley Karate Tournament in Season 4. But don’t let his tattoos and color-changing mohawk fool you, Hawk has been bullied, been the bully, and as of late is on a more honest path to self-discovery and honor. 

I was thrilled to speak with Jacob about his character training under multiple Sensei’s, Eli’s arc throughout the last five seasons, and how it was working with Karate Kid legends such as Yuji Okumoto (Chozen Toguchi) and Thomas Ian Griffith (Terry Silver). We even made a juicy deal WHEN Cobra Kai gets to its tenth season. 


MCKENZIE MORRELL: How are you feeling after the Season 5 drop of Cobra Kai? Would you say it’s the best season yet?

JACOB BERTRAND: Oh gosh, Season 1 is still always my favorite but that’s just because I have a lot of nostalgia, but this season was awesome.

MM: I don’t know how you guys do it. The cast and writers continue to outdo themselves with each season. You never really know what’s gonna happen next. 

JB: Yeah!

MM: How about we start the conversation off on a lighter note: which 3 emojis would you use to describe season 5?

JB: I definitely say the purple devil guy smiling, I’d say the lightning bolt, and is there a foot? If so, the foot. Everybody gets kicked in the face. 

MM: Or the fist, cause everyone does get punched at some point right?

JB: Yes! Yeah.

MM: And it’s so interesting seeing a nearly 40 year old feud come to a head and bringing the next generation of fighters along for old and new battles. Which would you say of the OG Karate Kid cast members has been the most fun to work with?

JB: Dang, you’re gonna get me in trouble.

MM: I’m sure they’re all a pleasure but who would you say was the most rewarding to work with? 

JB: They’re all so different but I’d never gotten to film with Yuji before and this season I had so much fun filming with him. We just had a couple of scenes but he’s the man, when he’s in character he’s so much fun to act opposite. 

MM: Chozen is really a fan favorite this season, they’ve been going crazy for him online.

JB: Oh yeah, but you have the fight with Silver and Chozen, how could he not be one of your favorites, you know?

MM: That is so true! Throughout the season your character has been going on this journey, he always seems to kind of tether between the good and the bad but recently we’ve seen him more on the good guy side. Do you believe that Eli is good at heart and has just been misguided through this youth?

JB: Yes totally, I think he was given a lot of power, discovered a lot of power, and then was manipulated and led astray by his shadow Sensei Kreese, but now he’s around people who love him so, I think he’s doing good.

MM: Kenny doing the silver bullet on your character during the competition was so wrong on so many different levels. Do you see any similarities between Kenny and Eli and their experiences with being bullied and looking to Cobra Kai for validation?

JB: I think Kenny and Hawk are very similar, I think Kenny just takes everything a step further. I think, for whatever reason, he is way more impressionable, he really takes all these things to heart a lot more than Hawk did even when the writing’s really on the wall that Cobra Kai might not be the best thing for him

MM: No, that’s for sure. And was there anything that happened in Season 5 that shocked or surprised you when you saw it unfold?

JB: Losing to Kenny

MM: I feel like next season he’s gonna win a big fight… 

JB: At least one. He’ll win at least one.

MM: I think Hawk has another win or two in him for sure. Everyone on this show are badasses in their own right but, who do you think Eli would choose to have as his partner in a street fight?

JB: Definitely his binary brother, I think that’s who he would be the most successful with, they just have all the chemistry. It’d be like the Season 3 LaRusso fight, in the LaRusso house. It would definitely be like that. It would either be him or Miguel [Xolo Maridueña].

MM: All of you guys have trained for this show but you started Karate when you were 8, you had that experience before everybody else?

JB: Yeah I did, I did a couple of years of karate in elementary school. I got to be a purple belt, but it was so long ago that it didn’t really help me, I just remembered very basic stuff, but I mean it’s better than nothing.

MM: I see you guys doing your high kicks in all of your promo videos so you guys clearly have skill behind you.

JB: Well, thank you.

MM: Of course. Speaking of skill– do you think that Demetri and Eli would be able to do the wheel technique without falling off? Apparently this is something fans online really wanna see so you and Gianni might need to demonstrate and set the record straight for the internet. 

JB: Oh yeah and it wouldn’t take us a week to complete it. This would be something we could just hop on and maybe figure out in like an hour. Maybe we’d fall off once or twice but at this point I don’t know. When they were doing that they were total karate noobs, they didn’t know anything.

Photo Credit: Irvin Rivera
MM: Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang need to come up with a new name for this Sekai Taikai. Do you guys have any good ideas for combining dojos? What would you call them?

JB: I don’t know, the temp name that we used on set is just Miyagi-Fang but I don’t think that’s the actual name that they’re gonna go with.

MM: I feel like they’re gonna come up with something completely different.

JB: I have this theory that Johnny is gonna take over Cobra Kai again because Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do made it into this Sekai Taikai. I don’t think Cobra Kai is just gonna end, there’s no way Kreese can come back to America.

MM: He’s probably gonna be on the run for a while since his prison break. 

JB: Yeah, he’s gonna be on the run so he can’t come out of the woodwork for a while.

MM: Couple of more seasons right? Season 10?

JB: Yeah, that’s my theory. I don’t know what’s gonna happen but that’s what I think. I think they’re still gonna separate. 

MM: Good theory! We’ll have to wait and see. Hawk has been involved in plenty of fights and I’m sure he’ll be in more. Do you have a favorite fight scene throughout the season starring your character?

JB: Oh yes 100% it’s when I fight Brucks [Bo Mitchell], and I’m on top of him just beating him up and I spit on him. These guys love it.

MM: All the grittiness of him, going ham. And who would you say is the most competitive on set in terms of just training and doing the scenes or anything like that?

JB: Besides me? I’d definitely take the cake in most competitions. But second to me I’d probably say Tanner [Buchanan] or Peyton [List]. 

MM: If Hawk could swap places with one of the other characters on the show who would you think he would pick and why?

JB: Oh, probably Sam [Mary Mouser], I think he probably really wants to kiss Miguel. 

MM: I’m sure everybody does at some point watching this show. 

JB: I think he would love to get to kiss Miguel and then know what it’s like to have a good father like Daniel LaRusso.

Image: Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix
MM: We know that Tory has a special bond with Kreese and each of the characters have some sort of connection to their mentors. Which Sensei do you think has helped your character grow the most? Who do you think he’d back at all costs if it came down to it?

JB: Man, it’s hard because I think Johnny and Daniel have changed him a lot in different ways. I think at this point LaRusso spends a lot more time with him and I think he’s really helped shape him into who he needs to be. 

MM: Yeah, different people come into our lives for different reasons so definitely each person has shaped him to become a better person and hopefully we continue to see that journey as we go on. If they made a spinoff of Hawk/Eli, what do you think that show would center around?

JB: Oh my gosh, I actually have thought of this. This is totally not what they would do but I think it’d be awesome if Hawk accidentally murdered someone, in a bar fight or whatever, and then he has to go to prison, and who does he meet in prison? Kreese. And he and Kreese start running the prison and their influence grows so strong and their drug ring is so big they start having influence in the outside world. 

MM: Hey, you never know, it could happen. 

JB: That would be sick! 

MM: I like to include my signature question into all of my interviews. If you were to construct a donut based on your character’s personality, what kind of donut would it be and what toppings would be on it?

JB: Oh this is a great one. This is hard. I think my donut would be glazed with some sort of chili on it, it would definitely be a sweet and spicy donut. 

MM: Like a sweet chili? 

JB: Yeah, like a sweet chili. 

MM: Alright, we’ll take it. We’ve had some good ones. People did hot cheetos, people concoct some crazy stuff. 

JB: Oh my god. I think it would definitely be a glazed donut with some chili flakes. 

MM: Can’t go wrong with spice, big fan. Season 5 wrapped up with several major story arcs coming to a head, but still left us with that cliff hanger in true Cobra Kai fashion. Silver’s been defeated or so we think, I assume we’ll see Kreese eventually, not sure if in the immediate future but are there any characters that you would like to work more with in Season 6 that you didn’t get a chance to?

JB: I think Billy [Zabka]. Johnny Lawerence. I didn’t get to interact with him much this last season and he’s just so much fun to work with so I’d like to hang out with him more.

MM: His character has seen some changes with him becoming a dad to his second child. Do you like the new softer Johnny or do you miss the original in-your-face Johnny? 

JB: I mean I love the old school badass Johnny a lot but I think this new Johnny will come with his own little story beats and it will be rewarding in a different way. 

MM: We’ve seen Hawk get a bunch of tattoos and kind of cover up some that are more regrettable, what tattoo would you get if you ever got one to honor the show?

JB: Oh damn. That’s a good one. I feel like I would have to get one of my own. I would have to get one of my own. I would probably get the Grim Reaper. 

MM: That’d be cool where would you put it?

JB: On my chest but I’d make it way bigger.

MM: Like the whole part of your chest?

JB: Oh yeah it would start on my chest and probably end halfway into my ribs or something

MM: Massive. Well if the show gets a Season 10 you gotta get it. 

JB: Alright, there we go. I’ll tell you right now, if it gets a Season 10, I’ll get it.

MM: Alright, alright. You heard it here first, we made a deal here. As we start to wind down, why should the fans tune in, what’s your message to them as we binge watch Season 5?

JB: Hey come on, you don’t like watching crazy people beat each other up? I mean, it’s the best. Why wouldn’t you wanna watch a bunch of high schoolers who are not mentally all there, fight it out?

MM: You have romance, fights between teenagers, you have the old timers having their own cut throat fights, there’s blood, there’s gore, there’s lessons to be learned, you can’t go wrong.

JB: Yeah, and at the very least by the end you’ll feel like you could possibly beat someone up.

MM: We’re all blackbelts in our own minds at this point after watching this show. 

Jacob Bertrand can be found on Instagram @thejacobbertrand

Be sure to check out Cobra Kai on Netflix. Season 1 – 5 are currently streaming for your binge-watching pleasure!