How Martin Kove Reacted To Meeting the Actor Who Plays Young Kreese


Martin Kove strikes a pose at TCL Chinese Theatre.

In the “Karate Kid” film franchise and the acclaimed series “Cobra Kai,” ruthless sensei John Kreese, portrayed by Martin Kove, is a frightening figure. He teaches his young students to fight without honor and manipulates them to do his bidding. In the third season of “Cobra Kai,” Kreese’s backstory is finally explored, allowing him to be viewed in a more sympathetic light. In a series of flashbacks, a young version of Kreese, played by Barrett Carnahan, experiences numerous traumas, which eventually causes him to develop an aggressive demeanor.

While Carnahan convincingly portrayed a Young Kreese, some fans may be curious how Martin Kove reacted to someone else playing the iconic role.

Martin Kove Met Barrett Carnahan on the Set of “Cobra Kai”

While speaking to Entertainment Weekly in January, the 75-year-old revealed that he was “on set” during one of the flashback scenes where Young Kreese is harassed by a varsity athlete, played by Kove’s son Jesse. He told the publication that Carnahan “was terrific.”

“[H]e looked just like me,” said Kove. 

Barrett Carnahan Shared Similar Information About Meeting Martin Kove

During a January interview, uploaded on the Cobra Kai Kid YouTube channel, Carnahan shared similar information about meeting Kove. He stated that while he was rehearsing the scene with Jesse, he noticed the actor. 

“I see this guy with this blond like slicked back hair kind of saunter in with like his round sunglasses on and his black like sleeveless shirt and I’m like son of b**** there he is. He owned the room when he walked in. He looked so d*** cool,” recalled Carnahan. 

He then revealed that he felt nervous about his portrayal of Kreese in Kove’s presence. 

“I knew that he was there so now I had this added layer of anticipation and added nerves inside of me because I want to do the best that I could possibly do,” said the 28-year-old.

The actor then revealed that the show’s co-creator and executive producer Hayden Schlossberg introduced him to Kove.

“So I go up behind [Kove]. [Schlossberg] goes, ‘Marty, Marty’ and taps Marty on the shoulder and he turns around. And he goes damn he does look like me. Like immediately there was this right of passage. Like his eyes just lit up and we talked a lot that entire day,” revealed Carnahan.

In a separate interview, also posted on the Cobra Kai Kid YouTube channel, Emily Marie Palmer, who plays Kreese’s deceased girlfriend, Betsy, discussed seeing Kove and Carnahan interacting for the first time.

“One of my favorite parts of the day was watching Barrett meeting Martin Kove because he’s just so fun. Like you could tell Barrett was so excited to be there. You know, to get to play this iconic role and get to bring this story of Young Kreese to the fandom to the world you know. And then Martin is obviously so into all of it and loves all things ‘Cobra Kai’ and so it was really fun to watch them meet and get to be a fly on the wall,” said the actress.

To see more of Kove, Carnahan, and Palmer, check out “Cobra Kai,” available to stream on Netflix.

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