XOLO MARIDUEÑA is currently starring as Miguel Diaz in the highly-anticipated second season of global smash-hit COBRA KAI on YouTube Premium.
Based on THE KARATE KID film series, COBRA KAI takes place thirty-four years after the original film. The new series follows a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his now-deceased mentor, Mr. Miyagi.
Xolo Maridueña’s character Miguel Diaz is Johnny Lawrence’s neighbor turned top student at the Cobra Kai karate dojo.
AC: When were you first introduced to THE KARATE KID?
XOLO MARIDUEÑA:I’ve played tennis for as long as I can remember and I would always wear headbands, my mom always used to say I looked like this guy Ralph Macchio. To be quite honest I never really knew who he was until booking in the show. In retrospect, it is so surreal to get to work with the person my mom would always tell me I look like. If I knew she was so prophetic I would have her start saying I look like Rihanna more often.
What initially intrigued you about ‘Cobra Kai’?
For the most part, I don’t really get to pick and choose what roles I go out for, I try to go out for everything that’s given to me just because you miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. But I will say after reading the breakdown for the character, I was excited that I was going out for a character who is Latino but didn’t fit into any of the stereotypes that we hear day in and day out in this industry
How much time have you spent doing karate training?
Since starting COBRA KAI season one, I would say during filming we do anywhere from an hour to three hours a day stretching, punching and backflipping. Outside of filming it tends to be pretty hard for me to find the motivation to get up and go to the gym and do cardio, lift weights, or do any sort of exercise. I’m trying to get better about going to the gym but will definitely be a slow process
Now in its second season, what can fans expect from the new episodes?
Now that we’ve established all the characters in season one, in season two we are going to be able to expand those characters that we already know while filling in all of the nooks and crannies with new characters that we haven’t seen before. Additionally, there are so many new plot points and story arcs in season two that are going to really wow the viewers.
How can you relate to your character?
Not a lot of people know this but Miguel and I are only one year apart. Having teenagers play teens is definitely an anomaly in this industry, it’s so much easier to hire someone over the age of eighteen for legal reasons than it is to hire minors. While it may not seem like a big deal, it definitely goes to show just how far the directors and producers are willing to go to show authenticity on camera.
Can you recall any funny moments from on-set filming?
Every day I get to work with Jacob Bertrand is a fun day on set, he really knows how to liven up everyone’s day and I never have a dull moment with him when we film together.
As an actor, what are you still trying to learn?
I’m always trying to learn to be more outgoing, I feel like there is this notion that actors are always outgoing and never get stage fright, but to be quite honest that’s not the case, at least not with me. I try to get myself out of my comfort zone at least once a day, it can be very challenging at times being that I’m a little reserved, but I don’t think I’m doing too bad!
COBRA KAI Season 2 is now streaming on YouTube
INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES