"Cobra Kai” Star Mary Mouser Talks About The Show And How Reese Witherspoon Inspired Her To Become An Actor

    "I cannot choose between Robby or Miguel for Samantha because I think that they’re both kind of perfect for her in very different ways."

    Headshot of Mary

    Cobra Kai's fourth season is finally here and — dare I say — it's the best season yet! As Miyagi-Do, Cobra Kai, and Eagle Fang gear up for the All Valley Karate Tournament, tensions are running higher than ever. Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso decide to join forces and teach each other's dojos their respective techniques. Even Daniel's sweet daughter, Samantha, is at last learning how to strike first, strike hard, and show no mercy.

    In honor of the new season hitting Netflix, Mary Mouser sat down with BuzzFeed to talk about a little bit of everything — her favorite stunts to learn, how it felt to finally "strike first," working with her close friends, and even tease a little bit about Season 5. Here's what we chatted about:

    1. This season, we saw Sam finally let out some of the rage she’d been holding in for three seasons. What was it like getting to play this side of her?

    It was a lot of fun. I felt like it was kind of always there, which is funny to think about. I mean, I've been particularly nostalgic the last couple of months just talking about, "Oh, look how far we've come! It's so crazy." But looking back on it, Season 1 Samantha was just all smiles and giggles, for the most part. But even before that, her relationship with karate was a little rocky. It was really important to her as a kid, and my thought being that maybe she quit karate around the time that Mr. Miyagi passed away, and then needing space from that and from being daddy's little girl. I feel like there's been this long-term relationship with karate in her life, and just like any other relationship, it goes through ups and downs. It was really fun on this one to play what I feel like is an up — maybe to somebody else it's a down — but it was a lot of fun to dig into that side of Samantha. I feel like I've watched my coworkers get to tear into each other and be so vicious. And I got to do that with Tory in the past, but I think it was fun getting to flip it around on the other side and be the aggressor, or to strike first, or as I say in the prom fight, "I'm not going to take her shit anymore." That moment in school with Tory and being like, "I'm coming for you, bitch" was so fun.

    BuzzFeed: I was so shocked when Sam kicked Tory in the face at the All Valley Karate Tournament. That must have been a great feeling for you.

    Oh my god, yes. And especially because we're all such good friends. It's so fun working together and training together. When I get a kick or a really good punch, then the person I'm fighting and beating the crap out of is like, "That was awesome! You were this close to my face!" It's hilarious. We all hype each other up while we're trying to fake kill each other.

    2. At the end of the season, it seemed like Tory was ready to let her feud with Sam end, but do you think Sam will ever reach that point? Could they ever become friends in the end?

    You know...I feel like that's been a question we've been asked at all these different points in Sam and Tory's rivalry. Their relationship is like, "Oh, when they first met, it was a misunderstanding. And then, it was a fight over a boy. So maybe they could reconcile that?" Then it becomes a little bit like a class war. And it's like, can you really reconcile the not being able to appreciate where each other comes from? There are all these different layers you've added on at this point. In my mind, Tory has become Samantha's boogeyman. She is bigger than the actual issue at hand, which is really just a girl who is fighting for what she feels is right while Sam's fighting for what she feels is right. It's kind of the classic, "Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy?" thing that Cobra Kai is so great about.

    But I don't know, I have a hard time imagining at this point — with the scars on Sam's arm and now feeling like she's let her whole family and Mr. Miyagi down — to lose at the hands of Tori again, I don't know how you come back from that.

    BuzzFeed: Yeah, maybe it's better if they can just learn to coexist.

    Right? Like, step one: Don't try to kill each other every time you see one another.

    3. It was really exciting to see Aisha come back and have that bestie moment with Sam after leaving at the end of Season 2. What was it like working with Nichole Brown again?

    That was so awesome. It was so great. We had so much fun during that scene. I think she was nervous. I was nervous. It was kind of this really cool thing of like when you have a friend from the same summer camp, but you haven't seen each other since then. And you get to see them again. It's all these things to catch up on and then just kind of like, "Oh my gosh, we're different people than we were when we last saw each other!" There's something really, really cool and magical about it. I was so excited for her to be back.

    4. How many of your own stunts do you actually do?

    At one point, I was told 60%. I want to say we did, especially for All Valley — we all really just trained as hard as we possibly could — it was mostly actor-on-actor action. And it was really fun. But our stunt doubles are incredible, and our stunt crew is amazing. They stepped in and made us look sharp and clean and perfect. But they also worked with us so that we could, theoretically, do as much as we possibly could. I think the only thing I was not allowed to do was fly between the buildings [in Season 4, Episode 3]. But I did get to sprint toward the jump and roll out of it, I just didn't get to fly over the buildings. That was my super-lovely stunt double, Selkie Hom. She's amazing. Other than that, though, I got to pretty much train and do everything else myself.

    BuzzFeed: And what's the training process like?

    When we're shooting a season, and usually for a little bit before the season starts as well, we train about two hours a day for five days a week. Then if you work, you go work and the rest of the crew is training. We kind of pop in and out like that. Sometimes, when all of us are working, the stunts crew will just come to wherever we're working, and then we'll train wherever we can. That's usually right before we start the season because sometimes we don't have scripts or we don't know exactly what the first fight is going to be. So, we just start with conditioning and just getting our cardio up and drilling technique, and kicks, and body position, hand position — all these things so that when we start learning a fight, then it's just choreography and we just are going over it and over it with each other. Like, "I'm going to backfist and I have to put my shoulder right here so that I don't hurt you when I do it," and just doing that kind of thing for hours until we get it.

    BuzzFeed: Were you trained in karate before working on the show?

    No, I had done no martial arts. I literally got a note out of P.E. I hated exercise of all kinds before the show. And then now, I freaking love martial arts and I do it in my off time because I love it so much.

    Mary training for her fight scenes

    5. During Season 4, Episode 8, "Party Time," it seemed like Sam still had some unresolved feelings for Robby. Do you think their story is over yet?

    Oh, interesting. I mean, I cannot choose between Robby or Miguel for Samantha because I think that they're both kind of perfect for her in very different ways. But at the same time, maybe none of them are good for each other at all. But I feel like there's still something there. I, as an audience member, love Robby and Sam together because of the generational thing of Lawrence and LaRusso and then little Lawrence and little LaRusso. I think that's fun to play with, but at the same time, I just want them to be happy. I'm like, "Do whatever you need to do, whoever you need to end up with. I just want you to have a good life."

    BuzzFeed: Well, especially at the end of the day, it's really all about Sam and her own happiness, right? These dumb boys are always fighting about the same thing!

    I completely agree. And, you know, boys are stupid. That's the general consensus.

    6. Who was the last Cobra Kai castmate you texted and what's the vibe of the group chat?

    There's actually a few group chats, because some of us pop in and out of town when we're filming. So, we have group chats that get formed for each individual party that we host. Sometimes those group chats blend together and then we'll just add someone to that one. Then we'll just add another person and that becomes too big of a group chat. And we're like, "Oh, these people are all the way in LA, they're gonna be bothered by 'Hey, what time are you arriving?' and 'Can you pick up soda on your way?' So, we'll go make another group chat. I feel like we have half a dozen group chats at this point, but it's usually Peyton [List] who's always coming in with a good meme as a response. And I think I just really am two steps behind. Like, 'Oh, that was so funny. I'll send this meme,' and then the topic has completely changed. The last person that I texted was Xolo [Maridueña]. I actually just texted him a minute ago. He's getting on a plane right now, so I was asking how his flight was.

    BuzzFeed: You all seem like such genuinely great friends, it must be nice to work with close friends.

    I feel very lucky. The group dynamic is a little wacky, but in the best way possible. I'm very grateful to know and love them all.

    7. Do you have a moment from Season 4 that you’re most proud of?

    There are a few of them. But I will say my weapons demonstration with my sai. Literally, right when we started last season, we started filming Season 4 in January — I want to say was like Jan. 12, 2021. I walked into training one day after we'd kind of gotten set up and we started talking, "Okay, All Valley is around the corner." Then I came in on Feb. 2nd, and our fight coordinator, Don Lee, was like, "How do you feel about the sai?" I was like, "The what, excuse me?" And he was like, "Sai. Have you ever seen this weapon used before? It's traditional Okinawan. And it would be really great for that side of Samantha's history." And I was like, "That sounds so cool!" He's so talented with them. He's an absolute master and I was like, "I want to be able to do that!" So from Feb. 2nd to the day that we filmed my sai performance, which was...I want to say April twentysomething, I trained the sai. I would go for our full training of two hours and then I would usually stay an additional two hours and just work on the sai as hard as I could to get them as strong as possible. And so that was something I was really, really proud of. There's things that I still want to work on. I'm still learning, the weapons are still very new to me, but I'm very excited about that challenge.

    I literally always had them in my hands for the entire season because I was just trying to get good. Right at the very last second, I would hand them off to my makeup artist, she would hold them and stand over to the side while we were filming. So, people were like, "You literally never have those things out of your hands!" It's like yeah, they're my comfort object now. I just carry them around and like if I'm stressed or whatever, you just see me over there working with my sai.

    [Mary did, in fact, have her sai on hand to show me.]

    8. Which celebrity have you been most surprised to find out was a fan of Cobra Kai?

    Andrew Garfield!

    BuzzFeed: Do you think he'd ever make a cameo?

    Well, I've been pitching it. I'm like, "So how are we gonna make this work? Like, we're gonna make this happen, right?" He needs to be in it. Like, call me, I will help. Whatever I can do, not that I can do much. But I'm a big fan too!

    9. I know you're a big Disney person too, so would you rather be a Disney princess or a Jedi?

    Oh, a Jedi. That's so funny. Because I feel like five years ago, I'd have instantly said Disney princess. And then like, through getting to do stunts, especially with the sai and the bow staff, and seeing myself edited holding a big lightsaber instead of a bow staff. Jedi.

    10. What’s the last show you binge-watched?

    Right now I'm binge-watching the last season of The Great British Baking Show with Xolo. So, we're on, like, the next-to-last episode.

    11. What’s your best fan story?

    People have always been sweet and excited, which is really cool. But I do have actually a bracelet that a fan made and she gave it to me at the last Comic-Con thing that I went to. Her name was Grace. She made bracelets for everybody. I've been wearing it every day and it says "Sam" on it. She was like, "These are the colors that I thought represented your characters." Mine didn't have pink, which I really love. Sam's wardrobe is pink because it's really fun and cute, and I love the looks. But Mary doesn't ever wear pink. So I was excited that my bracelet is blues and purples.

    BuzzFeed: Shout out to Grace!

    Yeah, thanks, Grace!

    12. Who have you been the most starstruck by?

    Oh my gosh, I mean literally everybody. I get so excited. I'm a big-time fangirl. Getting to actually see somebody in person... I just clam up or I word vomit, and I just don't know what to do with myself. But across the room, I saw Emma Stone at the Cruella premiere. My sister was like, "Go over there!" and I was like, "Oh, no, I literally cannot do that. I will stand over here. I will gawk, and then I will hide, and I will leave." So that was cool.

    13. What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?

    Check my phone. That's bad, but that's honest!

    14. What’s a role people would be surprised to find out you auditioned for?

    I sent a tape and audition for Katniss in The Hunger Games. I remember I read all three of those books in less than 24 hours before I did that tape. I just sat down and in one sitting, went through all the books. I was the biggest fan.

    15. If you could guest-star on any show — currently airing or not — what would it be?

    I think probably Supernatural. I was a big, big Supernatural fan.

    16. Have you ever caught someone watching Cobra Kai in public or wearing any merch?

    I have seen so many sightings now. Especially, like, people wear Cobra Kai masks, hats, or gear, and I'll see them and they don't recognize me. So, my sister will get out her phone and I'll turn around and smile with them in the background. And then we take a little picture and have another little moment. I geek out when I see other people wearing the gear. I get really excited.

    17. If you could give a piece of advice to Sam LaRusso, what would it be?

    I think Samantha has a tendency to, I mean, she's a lot like me, in that way of, I want to fix things for everybody all the time. She's a fixer. I would love to see Samantha just take a step back for a minute and figure out what she wants, you know? I feel like she was trying to figure that out in Season 1 and found Miguel in the midst of all that. Then, craziness ensued and she hasn't ever gotten the chance to get back. So, now she's searching for it. I feel like in Season 2 we saw her looking for it. And she was like, "Oh, karate, that's it!" and "Oh...maybe not." Then especially with Season 3, struggling with the trauma that she'd gone through at the end of Season 2...I feel like I would love for Samantha to just take a step back. Take a moment for herself and not worry so much about the weight of the world or the soul of the valley. I feel like that's how she's gonna be able to actually do the help that she wants to do and be there for the people she wants to be there for.

    "I feel like I would love for Samantha to just take a step back. Take a moment for herself and not worry so much about the weight of the world or the soul of the valley."

    18. Name a celebrity on your bucket list to work with in a project

    Oh my gosh. I feel like I have so many. And then as soon as you say that I'm like...Kristen Stewart. 110%. There you go. I don't even know why it took me more than a minute, that should have taken me zero seconds.

    19. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

    Kristen Stewart!

    20. Describe your perfect day

    Oh my goodness, you just made me think of that moment in Miss Congeniality, and she's like, "All you need is a light jacket!" [Laughs] My perfect day is honestly training and working. That's really all I love to do. And I love to read, so I would probably, I guess, wake up in the morning. Go train. Go work. Hang out with my favorite people. And then curl up with a book and my dog, and then watch a movie.

    21. What are you currently reading?

    Well, I'm re-reading Twilight currently, because Tanner [Buchanan]'s never read it so we're reading it out loud to each other. But I'm also about to start A Court of Silver Flames [by Sarah J. Maas]. I have it and I haven't started it just because I've been reading a million other things, but I'm doing that. And Queen of Coin and Whisper [by Helen Corcoran], I just started that one.

    22. What’s your favorite thing to do between takes on set?

    Ah, if we're not getting snacks at craft services, then we're really just messing around with one another. I also really love practicing my stunts on my castmates who are unsuspecting. Specifically, Xolo and Tanner really have to deal with the brunt of me just being like "And then a kick, and a punch, and then you need to do this" and they're like, "I'm tired! I don't want to be doing this!"

    23. What’s the most used emoji on your phone?

    Right now, it's probably 🙃 . I don't know why, but I feel like it encompasses every emotion I need to express.

    24. How would you best describe your style?

    Emo, like rawr XD emo, but like also pajamas.

    25. What’s your go-to karaoke song?

    The only time in my recent life that I've done karaoke, Peyton and I did "Super Trooper" [by Abba] and that was so fun. I would do that again. I will also say I know most of the lyrics to the Hamilton songs, so if there's ever a Hamilton option, I'd pick that too.

    26. What movie or TV show made you want to become an actor?

    Honestly, I love Sweet Home Alabama. That was like one of my favorite movies. I think Reese Witherspoon made me really want to act.

    27. And finally, since you guys are already filming Season 5 of Cobra Kai, is there anything you can tease about it?

    I don't want to give anything away that'll kill it for anybody, but I definitely will say that the fun part about the show is that they never stop taking it to the next level. So, I think where we leave off in Season 4, it's like, "How could it get crazier than this?" And it does. It really does. I think Season 5 is a really satisfying season. A lot of things that people want to happen, or have been curious about, or even speculated...I think they'll be very satisfied to see how those things play out.

    Thanks for chatting, Mary! And, of course, be sure to watch her in Season 4 of Cobra Kai, which is streaming on Netflix now!