Confirmed for season five, Netflix’s Cobra Kai’s high action, bromances and feuds have struck a chord with those nostalgic for the eighties and a new generation alike — and Jacob Bertrand’s ‘good guy’ Eli turned ‘bad boy’ Hawk has quickly become one of the fans’ favourites. The Los Angeles-based actor tells Schön! about skydiving, the biggest lessons he’s learnt throughout his career and his podcast, Lone Lobos, with Cobra Kai co-star Xolo Maridueña.
Hey Jacob! What’s been your highlight of 2022 so far?
I just went skydiving for the first time, and that was sick! Going to start going more often.
Sounds amazing! You’ve grown up in the industry. What’s one thing you learned early on in your career?
Biggest lesson I learned early on in my career is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If I was at school, I was dying to be working — and if I was working, I was dying to be at school. Just learning to be happy in the moment and grateful for being where I am. Learning to sacrifice a Valentine’s Day party to go to an audition that I may or may not get at 6 years old was a difficult lesson to learn [laughs].
Congratulations on the confirmation of Cobra Kai season five! How do you think your approach to Hawk has changed since joining the show?
I know Hawk has grown a lot as a person since the show has started, specifically in season four. I think overall Hawk has dealt with a lot of his insecurities and can finally be more comfortable in his own skin. Instead of approaching him as “Hawk,” now I definitely approach the character more as Eli. Hawk was this personified version of a ‘fight or flight’ response. After meeting Johnny in season one, Eli could’ve just retreated further into his shell, but through Johnny’s unorthodox way of inspiring, Eli stepped up to the plate, ready for whatever may come. And that sort of loose cannon optimism and confidence birthed Hawk. He’s less of a glass cannon now, more of an all valley champ.
Five seasons is a lot of time and episodes as an actor. What keeps you invested in Cobra Kai?
Well, Hawk isn’t a very stagnant character [laughs]. None of them are, honestly. The writers have given me a lot of opportunities with the arcs they write. Every season there’s something new to explore in the character. And plus I love getting to punch people — kidding!
Can you share any advice you have received from the original Karate Kid actors?
“Don’t fight like a pussy”
What do you imagine the future is like for Hawk when he is the same age as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso?
Hard to say. Pre-season four, I could’ve seen him end up like Johnny, but I think after him winning the tournament, having two great senseis and his friends back in his corner, he’ll probably develop some app with Demetri and be a billionaire.
There are lots of eighties pop culture references peppered throughout the show — what are some of your favourite films from that period?
I love Footloose, plus people sometimes say I look like Kevin Bacon. Adventures in Babysitting, Top Gun, Gremlins, Trading Places, Full Metal Jacket and Grave of the Fireflies, too. My all-time favourite movie is Dead Poets Society. Best movie ever.
Hawk’s signature look is his hair. What would you say your style staple is?
Beat up shoes. I’m always proud of my ability to wear shoes out so fast. I like the messed up look. Gives them character. Either that or board shorts. Life’s better in board shorts.
There are also lots of life lessons to learn in Cobra Kai — what’s your philosophy on life, or some words you live by?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” – my dad
What do you look for in roles?
I really like people I can relate to, as simple as it sounds. I love Ethan Hawke’s character in Dead Poets Society, Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, River Phoenix in Stand By Me. But at the same time, I’d love the challenge of taking a role that’s far removed from myself. Edward Norton in Primal Fear — and Jeremy Renner in The Town is one of my favourites because he’s also a bank robber. That’s a goal of mine, to play a bank robber [laughs].
What else are you working on at the moment?
Currently recording an animated show called BATWHEELS that’ll be out in late 2022. And my favourite thing to talk about — my friend Xolo (who plays everyone’s favorite best boy, Miguel Diaz) and I have a podcast we record together. It’s called Lone Lobos; it’s a pop culture podcast about everything and nothing at the same time. New episodes come out every Tuesday, so check it out if you want to hear us shoot the shit and laugh a little.
Finally, what are you looking forward to right now?
Right now, I am really looking forward to the newest season of Attack on Titan — if you haven’t seen that show I highly recommend. And looking forward to filming some cool new movies.
Cobra Kai is currently streaming on Netflix.
direction + photography. Mynxii White @ Exclusive Artists using LeicaSL2s
fashion. Claudia Ávila
talent. Jacob Bertrand
production. James Kristofik
casting + production. Alabama Blonde
first ad. Craig Bullock
content + production editing. Schön! Magazine
fashion assistant. Jesse Jacob
words. Lucy Vipond