‘Cobra Kai’ Star Jacob Bertrand on Hawk’s All Valley Success & Looking Ahead to Season 5
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Cobra Kai Season 4.]
After one rollercoaster of a season, he beat out Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) as the latest All Valley Karate Tournament champ in the male division as the competition widened its reach with a women’s division. While fighting for Miyagi-Do, Hawk emerged triumphant with the help of skills he’d learned through Cobra Kai and Eagle Fang.
Following a traumatizing experience of having his signature mohawk unwillingly shaved off, Hawk endured a bit of an identity crisis and nearly quit the sport before his pal Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo) convinced him otherwise. Emboldened to fight his heart out after a kiss from one-time girlfriend Moon (Hannah Kepple), Hawk rose to the occasion and made his new sensei, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), and friends proud.
Following the Season 4 highs and lows after having “just wrapped Season 5 in the middle of December,” Bertrand is reflecting on Hawk’s journey. Below, the actor opens up about tapping into his character’s vulnerable side, the future of his mohawk, the show’s famous fans, and much more.
This season was filled with highs and lows for Hawk ranging from his introduction into Miyagi-Do Karate to his All Valley win. What story were you most excited to tackle after receiving the Season 4 scripts?
Jacob Bertrand: I was really excited to get to film more with Gianni [DeCenzo], who plays Demetri. I really like that relationship between the Binary Brothers. And I think whenever Eli/Hawk is around Demetri, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), and Johnny (William Zabka), I think that’s when he is at his best, that’s when he is at his highest, I think. He is highly susceptible to influence, and people manipulating him. And I think those guys always want what’s best for him, especially Demetri. And I was just excited to rekindle that relationship with him on the show.
Hawk loses his signature hairdo partway through the season. Will the mohawk be back or is it gone for good?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say. Here’s what I would say, I think he doesn’t need it anymore. It’s not like Samson getting his hair cut off and then he doesn’t have the power. What I really liked about Season 4 was Hawk realizing that. Albeit, it took a girl grabbing his face and kissing him to realize it. That’s one thing I really liked about this season is his growth in that aspect, and I don’t think he needs a mohawk anymore. But you’ll have to wait and see.
At least the tattoo can’t be cut off, that’s also his signature.
Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s a really good point. You can’t shave off the tattoo.
Hawk has been an underdog and bully at times, but he became the character viewers want to root for this season. His arc was rewarded with an All Valley win. Was it exciting exploring that aspect of him this time around?
Yeah. I mean, beating Robby was actually really easy, he’s not that good of a fighter, it was kind of light work [Laughs]. No, it’s fun. That is probably one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do on the show is be an All Valley champ. I’m a very competitive person, and I am a Hawk fan so seeing him lose was very hard for me all the time. I hated whenever Hawk would lose. So when they told me I got to win the All Valley, I was so ecstatic.
The thing about Hawk is, I never really viewed him as just a bully. I think there’s a lot of layers to him, and he’s a complex misunderstood little boy. I think the writers do a really good job of giving me material and stuff to work with. They just really know what they’re doing, so kudos to them, they’re the bomb. And I think it’s a huge reason for Hawk’s success, they just write such great stuff for the character. And I’m very grateful every season that I get to have a really cool arc.
When Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang part ways before the All Valley Karate Tournament, Hawk chooses to stay with Miyagi-Do. Is that only because of Demetri or is there some part of Hawk that connected with a calmer approach to Miyagi-Do’s karate?
I think that is actually the sole reason he went to Miyagi-Do, because he mostly views Johnny as his sensei. At that point, he was quitting karate. And I think if he was to stay and do karate, I definitely think he would be an Eagle Fang. But yeah, Demetri pleading and saying, “Hey, I need my friend back, please come back,” I think that was the reason he ended up staying at Miyagi-Do. But what better sensei could you have than Daniel LaRusso? I definitely think that is a great reason he stayed. If anyone needed some Miyagi-Do in their life, it’s probably Johnny or Hawk.
Like you’ve said, Hawk isn’t exactly a bully, but he did rough up newbie Kenny (Dallas Young) earlier in the season. Is it fun playing into that or do you feel bad after fighting a costar for a scene?
Oh no, I love it. It’s great. What’s funny is a lot of people have told me, “Oh, Hawk still is a bully. He was roughing up that Kenny kid,” but when I read the scene, Hawk comes in, and Kenny is about to lunge and punch two of his friends. So, from my perspective, all I’m doing is stopping this kid from beating up my friends. I’m not picking a fight with this kid, I’m literally just stopping him from trying to beat up my friends.
That’s how I approached that. And then in the drive in, when he bumps into him, I actually asked the writers, I was like, “I don’t feel like I would seek out this kid, because I, Hawk, wouldn’t give two s**ts about some little kid and his beef?” And they were like, “No, you are genuinely just the most unhappy accident to have happened to Kenny.” That’s how they had described that scene to me. But no, I love it. I get to punch people in the face, and it’s my job. I think it’s really fun… I love punching Xolo.
Speaking of Xolo, you two have a podcast together. What made you want to create one and why should Cobra Kai fans tune in?
Yeah. The podcast is called Lone Lobos. Xolo and I are the hosts, and it’s really fun. It’s a pop culture podcast, we talk about a little bit of everything. We’re best friends, he’s like my little brother, we live together when we’re filming, and one day we were just like, “We should do a podcast, and just do what we do all the time.”
I think a lot of people really love the show, and they love Hawk and Miguel, but no one really knows us. And so we wanted to make this podcast to show who we are, and get to know our fans. We have a Reddit that we’re pretty active on, and [fans] get to ask questions, and will help us think of bits to do. And we’re always responding to the Reddit page and talking to fans on there.
It’s been really fun. I just go over to Xolo’s house, we sit on his couch with some mics, and some producers, and we just shoot the s**t for an hour or two. It’s been awesome. We talk about acting, Cobra Kai, growing up in the industry, current things that are happening, and crazy stories throughout our lives. It’s a little bit of everything.
Cobra Kai has a lot of famous fans from Andrew Garfield to Season 4’s guest star Carrie Underwood. How does it feel to know that all these big stars are tuning in each season?
It’s so weird to me. Andrew Garfield, I grew up on those Spider-Man [movies]. I grew up watching him, [so] that’s crazy that he likes the show and even kind of knows who I am; it’s insane. Even Elon Musk tweeting about Cobra Kai is so nuts. I just can’t picture him sitting down and watching the show, it’s very surreal.
Cobra Kai, Season 4, Streaming now, Netflix