When Aedin Mincks found out he got the part of Mitch on the Netflix series Cobra Kai, he didn't think that much of it at first before his parents reminded him of The Karate Kid (1984) franchise's cultural significance. The actor originally auditioned for the role of Brucks in season one and when he didn't get the part, he got a second chance when casting was looking for Mitch. I spoke to Mincks about Mitch's journey from the second and third seasons, how he was welcomed by his peers upon casting, and the rigorous training for the physical demands of the series.
"When I got to set, the guys told me that they've been looking for this character [Mitch] for a long time and that they swept America left-to-right for it," Mincks recalled at his second audition. "I remember back in California and how I got the audition and then I got the part. They were looking for it for a long time and they got me. I thought that was really cool." The actor had a backstory with himself and his best friend Chris, played by Khalil Everage. "[Mitch] and Chris, I'm pretty sure they went to the All Valley Karate Tournament and saw that Cobra Kai won," he continued. "They went to join Cobra Kai because they were winners." Mincks described the two as WWE nerds. "they kind of wanted to do what they loved (like pro-wrestling), but they wanted to be cooler and badass with it so they joined Cobra Kai," he said. "They can still do all their fighting and showmanship stuff with Cobra Kai instead of WWE." Prior to getting the part of Mitch, Mincks was only aware of the 2010 Karate Kid remake that starred Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Naturally, they scolded him for not being aware of a franchise that existed long before he was born.
"I didn't know that there were originals," Mincks recalled. "When I got the part, my parents were freaking out like, 'Oh my God! It's based on the originals. It's a TV continuation of the original movie.' I'm like 'originals, what?' They got offended, almost personally. They asked me 'How I didn't know about this? Did they talk to you? What's wrong with you?' We watched all of them and the third one was my favorite." As far as his first days on set, the actor was surprised that he and Everage were welcomed with open arms by two of the series main younger stars in Xolo Maridueña, who plays Cobra Kai's prized student in Miguel Diaz, and Jacob Bertrand, who plays one of his best friends in Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz, over a game of Monopoly. "I usually hang out with Khalil, who plays Chris," Mincks said. "We're usually in the same hotel while we're on location. We'll usually hit each other up and hang out. The first week when I got the part, Xolo and Jacob…Miguel and Hawk, both invited me to come over to their house to play Monopoly. It was kind of weird at first, because I wasn't sure if it was a prank at first. People aren't usually that nice on the set that quick. Chris and I went over to their house and played Monopoly until six in the morning. It was a lot of fun. We're all great buddies and friends here. It's really cool."
As the series progresses, Mincks found himself more involved physically as did his co-stars with fight choreography from their stunt coordinators. "It wasn't required, but most of us took it upon ourselves to take martial arts," he said. "I think even Mary [Mouser] had karate classes once she got the part (of Samantha LaRusso). I was doing kickboxing classes coincidentally when I got the part. After the second season, I took a couple of private Jiu-Jitsu classes. I got my own punching and speed bags in my garage. I spent some time training. When we hit the set, we had some great stunt coordinators, who teach and show us everything and how to do it right and comfortable. They'll show us a fight scene that we have or they'll have stunt doubles for us. I don't usually like using a stunt double unless I really have to."
Mincks broke down the training regiment the cast had to do before shooting an episode. "Before we actually have to go on set, there's another training room," he said. "The floors are all padded and we usually do a warm-up with the stunt doubles. The stunt coordinators will have the punching mitts and stuff. We would be going at it with them. After the warm-up, we'll break into our own groups and practice our fight scenes we have with one another for whatever is coming up. Peyton (List) at the end of the third season has to use the nunchucks. She was in the training room two weeks earlier every day with them going at it." List plays Cobra Kai's Tori Nichols, Sam's rival. When it comes to the physical demands on set, Mincks said no one ever got injured too seriously. "Sometimes the fight scenes I'm not sure I can do certain things," he said. "We all eventually power through it. I don't think anyone ever got injured seriously. The only injury I can think of that hurt really bad was when we have shin-to-shin contact. I get to bed sometimes and it can get excruciating."
Fame hasn't affected Mincks too much, but notes he was recognized a few times from when Cobra Kai was still on YouTube. Aside from the training and filming of scenes on set, it turned out star William Zabka shares some characteristics with Johnny Lawrence in real life and Martin Kove (John Kreese) is equally as reflective. "They're really cool and outgoing and stuff," he said. "William will make like funny voices and tell jokes on set. He's really cool. He'll direct in some ways and offer input. He likes to talk about the cool stuff of the 80s and stuff. Martin offers notes on scenes we're in telling us how it reminds us of things he's seen before." The third season of Cobra Kai is available to stream on Netflix.