When Cobra Kai season five dropped, one of the most anticipated returns was Sean Kanan’s Mike Barnes. Creators Josh Heald, Hayden Schlossberg, and Jon Hurwitz slipped in another surprise from 1989 The Karate Kid Part III in Robyn Lively’s Jessica Andrews, Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) friend also terrorized by the dojo run by Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) and John Kreese (Martin Kove). Hurwitz and Lively spoke with Netflix’s Tudum about her return.
“Being a legacy character is so thrilling, and ‘The Karate Kid III’ was my childhood. To be a part of that epic franchise, to this day, it’s such an honor for me,” Lively said. It turned out that Jessica set Daniel up with her cousin, Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), before starting a family together and filling in another major piece of Karate Kid lore into the puzzle. “One thing that we’ve noticed in the ‘Cobra Kai’ fandom is everyone’s always saying so-and-so is related to so-and-so,” Hurwitz said. “And more often than not, we find that kind of thing cheesy. It wouldn’t feel grounded.”
One thing caught in the martial arts turf war crossfire between Daniel and Cobra Kai is how it affects Amanda and poisons their relationship over time throughout the series. Sharing time with Jessica for a girls’ night out to iron out some things. “It gets to the point where Terry has sort of driven [Daniel] crazy enough to make him look like a crazy person in front of Amanda,” Hurwitz said. “Amanda is just like, ‘I need a break from this’ and leaves town. And we thought, ‘What better character to give Amanda some perspective on what Daniel actually went through back in the day than the woman who was there with Daniel?'”
In the bar, Jessica uses her own personal experience from the events of TKK3 to help repair Amanda and Daniel’s relationship. “[Jessica]’s the voice of reason. She’s reminding Amanda what a good egg she has in Daniel. I just think it was such a full circle moment and so satisfying,” Lively said. “[Amanda] moved out to LA and didn’t know anybody. And Jessica’s like, ‘Hey, there’s this nice guy that I know,’ ” Hurwitz added. “She’s just like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna introduce Amanda, my cousin, Amanda, to this really nice guy.’ And the rest is history.” For more on Lively’s experience on the Cobra Kai set and her reunion with Macchio and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence), you can check out the whole interview here. While we’re at it, here’s Lively’s trip down memory lane from The Karate Kid Part III.