There is no denying that one of the many reasons to watch Netflix’s Cobra Kai, is for the elaborate fight sequences. Jahnel Curfman, the stunt coordinator, will be right in the middle of all this action. Here is an interview about her part in the Cobra Kai series.
Curfman has served as the show’s stunt coordinator alongside Hiro Koda on Seasons 2 and 3 and also served as Peyton List’s stunt double. Some of Curfman’s other credits impressively include being Karen Gillan’s stunt double on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, as well as Sandra Bullock’s for Bird Box. Currently, Curfman is Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Stunt Performance for the Cobra Kai episode titled “December 19”.
We conducted the following Q&A in honor of her recent nomination and talked about everything related to Cobra Kai Season 3.
WON: First off, congrats on the Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Stunt Performance”. This category was created in 2021. What does it feel like to be included in this category. Do you think it is long past due for this category to be created?
JC: We are grateful! It’s an honor to be recognized in the first ever stunt performance category. I think that this category is long overdue in television, as well as, film. The Television Academy has opened the door for the recognition of stunt performers in various capacities as well as industry awards shows.
WON: What made you believe the Academy added this category to its roster?
JC: Although stunt performance is an important part of the industry, it has long been overlooked by other academy. The truth is without outstanding stunt performers, many of the shows on television would not be what they are. I think the Academy recognizes the importance of what we contribute to these shows.
WON: You are nominated for the episode titled “December 19”. Why do you think the stunt performances in this episode stuck out to voters so much?
John, Josh and Hayden wanted to make this season even better. Hiro was really challenging me and Hayden to do everything. “December 19” was the finale episode so, the action sequences had to reflect the emotional buildup of the entire season and that’s what I think resonates with the audience. You’ve got all of the characters in these complex relationships that are translating to fight choreography between one another.
WON: Typically, how long do you have to train with Peyton before doing the stunts in front of the camera?
Peyton: Peyton has a quick learning speed so she can pick up choreography very quickly. What we spend time on is perfecting each move so it’s clean, crisp, and powerful. I like to have a full week or two for new sequences but scheduling gets tight by the end of the season so, she’ll usually learn it a few days before performing.
WON: Tory and Sam's fight in the season 3 finale was quite epic. You had to use nunchucks for that particular fight. Did you know how to use these before your work on the show, or did you train with them just for this project?
JC: I had worked with nunchucks before. It was fun to work with weapons, and I enjoyed incorporating them in the battle between Sam and Tory. Peyton was great with the weapons!
WON: In that final fight, you get pelted in the back with a bo staff and thrown against the wall. How can you make this appear as real as possible? Is it possible to get hit while doing this?
Reactions are key to hitting hits such as that one. To make a hit look violent or dramatic, you need to react to it. And yes, for that particular shot to sell for camera, Mary had to make contact on my back with the bo staff. That’s one of the reasons we use stunt performers instead of actors for certain shots.
WON: The hardest stunt sequence of Season 3 was the final fight in the house, because it was done in 1 shot. This sequence was so difficult to capture that you had to do it multiple times to get it right. I imagine landing all those marks is pretty difficult?
JC: I don’t remember the exact number of takes we did for that shot but, I think it was somewhere around 10. One-er shots are difficult because you must hit every mark from the beginning. If one hit was a miss or something didn’t go correctly, we immediately had to cut and start over.
WON: Which was your favourite episode of Season 3? Why?
JC: Season 3's final episode was action-packed. I enjoyed watching that one because I knew how much work the stunt team and cast had put into making it one of the best of the series.
WON: A lot of critics have said that Season 3 is darker and riskier. Are you in agreement?
JC: Yes, that's right. I think that by exploring Kreese’s backstory, it naturally led it in a darker direction than we saw in the first two seasons.
WON: Could you tell us about any behind-the scenes fun stories from Season 3 that we don't know?
JC: The final fight in the Larusso house was originally supposed to take place in the Miyagi -Do yard. It was changed last-minute because of the weather.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Jahnel Curfman, if you’re looking for more on Cobra Kai, check out our preview for season 4 which is set to arrive in December.