Sean Kanan brings new “colors” to the role of Mike Barnes.


“He said to me, ‘It’s not that I didn’t want you as an actor.’ He said he never liked that Mike Barnes didn’t have any redeeming qualities,” says Kanan. “Even Johnny Lawrence (the archenemy of the original karate kid movie) had redeeming qualities where he says at the end, “You’re okay, LaRusso.” Robert firmly believed that a 17-year-old child should not be without some kind of redemption. Also, he knew me for the actor that I was, and it was a very one-dimensional character. This is exactly what (director) John Avildsen (in Karate Kid III).”

Kanan says be prepared to see a multidimensional Mike Barnes Cobra Kai. The actor talks more Life in Palm Springs about appearing in the streaming series 33 years later Karate Kid III came out about how he almost lost his life during this 1989 film and whether appearing in the film was a curse or a blessing in disguise.

If bring the idea Cobra Kai When you started out as a streaming platform, even then you thought there might be a way to be a part of it?

I knew who these guys were (Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg), so I knew they were legit, serious guys. they did Harold & Kumar, Whirlpool time machine, so I was really excited. You know, look, every time you play a role and 35 years later it still has some relevance and a place in the fandom heart, that’s really flattering and I was obviously hoping that eventually they would move on to me and it took a while, but it was worth the wait.

When did they first contact you?

I know Billy Zabka (who portrays Johnny Lawrence on the show and also starred in the first one karate kid movie) and I know people involved with it. I think I started talking to the guys around Season 3 but I think I was shooting last September and I think they probably called me like August probably a year ago. You were so gracious. Jon Hurwitz and Josh Heald had a Zoom call with me and you know when you’re an actor who gets hired to play a role on an existing hit show it’s not common for them to consult with you, you know She? They just said, “Hey, listen, what are your ideas?” I just gave them some thoughts I had and they told me that’s what we think. I said, “Look, you guys knocked it out of the park. I put myself in your very capable hands.” And I think it turned out very, very well.

What was it like trying to reprise a role you had over 30 years ago?

The great thing about playing this role now is that I’m a much more experienced actor and a much more evolved person now, so obviously I brought all of that into it. The character is not the one-dimensional character she was in the film. That’s exactly what they wanted in the film. The guy is a fully fleshed out, multi-dimensional character now and I don’t know if I had to draw on as much of the same things as in the film for that, although we’re definitely seeing some different sides of Mike Barnes’ personality and there’s definitely flashes to it, who this guy was that we saw in the movie. You know, I guess it’s still there somewhere in me, that part of that character, when I have to draw on it.


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