Here's Why People Think Hilary Swank Will Be in 'Cobra Kai'
Cobra Kai started off by completely reframing 1984's The Karate Kid. Continuing that film's story 34 years later, the show made it clear that original antagonist Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) may have messed his own life up a little bit, but he wasn't all that bad a guy (and he loves a a good Banquet Beer, a mark of any great man). And while Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) certainly was always a good guy, Johnny didn't always see it that way. There was lots for Cobra Kai to reframe in its first couple seasons, and it did just that—to the excitement of Karate Kid fans everywhere.
Continuing seasons continued to reframe the events and characters that fans got to know in both the original Karate Kid and the sequels that came in years later. Older versions of John Kreese, Terry Silver, Chozen, Ali, Jessica Andrews, and Mike Barnes are among the many who've gotten their time in the spotlight, and the show has never failed to provide an interesting twist on the characters who were originally presented in the film. Characters like Silver—who was a one-note '80s villain in The Karate Kid Part III—got new depth. Still a total villain, but one that makes a lot more sense in the new sorts of context.
Showrunners Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald are clearly up for those challenges.
So, then, could Cobra Kai possibly be game for its greatest reclamation project yet? That would be to reframe just about 1994's The Next Karate Kid, which instead of Macchio starred a young Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce and holds a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie made only $15 million at the box office against a $12 million budget—hardly the smash hit reboot the producers were looking for—and was effectively the final chapter in the film series. The story was halted there until Cobra Kai's debut in 2018 (the 2010 Karate Kid movie produced by Will Smith is a different world altogether).
But since Cobra Kai has brought back just about all of the most important characters of the Karate Kid universe past, people are naturally wondering if it could be time for The Next Karate Kid's Oscar-winning star to make her debut alongside Daniel and Johnny.
Will Hilary Swank be in Cobra Kai as Julie Pierce?
As of now, we don't know for sure. Swank is an always-in-demand performer with two acting Oscars to her name (for Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby), and is set to lead another show called Alaska Daily (from Spotlight director Tom McCarthy) in 2023. So it could be tough to lock down time in her schedule. It could also be tough to convince her to return to a role that came early in her career in a movie that earned career-worst reviews.
Swank herself, though, is aware that Cobra Kai fans are a strong and resilient bunch (as Sean Kanan told Men's Health in a recent interview, "Hell hath no fury like the Cobra Kai army"). In a 2019 interview with Uproxx, she told writer Mike Ryan that she found out about the show's existence only because people were constantly asking if she was going to show up on it:
Oh my gosh, it’s so funny. I didn’t even know what that was and I kept getting people going, “When are you going to do Cobra Kai?” I was like, “What are they talking about?” My dog’s name is Kai, so I’m like, ”wait, what?” And then I finally got it. But I mean, the amount of people in a day that ask, “Are you going to do Cobra Kai?,” is pretty fascinating.
She also referred to a "showdown" between her Julie Pierce and Macchio's Daniel LaRusso, which would certainly be something to see in our modern-day context of Cobra Kai. It's also worth noting that these quotes come from 2019, long before the show gained an even more enormous audience in late 2020 when it landed on Netflix. Swank has probably seen her inquiries about Cobra Kai increase tenfold.
Co-creator Jon Hurwitz has been asked frequently on Twitter about Swank's possible appearance on the show. "Who wouldn’t like to work with Hilary Swank?" he rhetorically asked in September 2021 when one fan asked.
Who wouldn’t like to work with Hilary Swank? https://t.co/YdpfggQCp8
— Jon Hurwitz (@jonhurwitz) September 16, 2021
He gave a more detailed answer when asked the same question in 2019 (responding to someone quoting Swank's answer in the Uproxx interview above). "We are aware of all the characters in the Karate Kid universe," he said. "If their presence is additive to our current story and the actor is willing, we’ll include them. If not, we won’t. Regardless, we will never tell the audience a character is returning before they appear onscreen."
We are aware of all the characters in the Karate Kid universe. If their presence is additive to our current story and the actor is willing, we’ll include them. If not, we won’t. Regardless, we will never tell the audience a character is returning before they appear onscreen.
— Jon Hurwitz (@jonhurwitz) June 8, 2019
Could go either way! But if you want further evidence that Hurwitz and the other co-creators are just huge Karate Kid fans, look no further than a deep cut Tweet from 2011: "Any Karate Kid co-starring Pat Morita, including the Hilary Swank edition," he wrote, before adding the hashtag #MoviesIWatchWheneverTheyAreOn.
Any Karate Kid co-starring Pat Morita, including the Hilary Swank edition #MoviesIWatchWheneverTheyAreOn
— Jon Hurwitz (@jonhurwitz) October 9, 2011
It seems, then, like the co-creators are game. All that it comes down to, then, is landing a two-time Oscar winning actress. That shouldn't be too hard, right?
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