‘Cobra Kai’ Star Gianni DeCenzo Teases Season 6 & What’s Next

Jacob Robinson What's on Netflix Avatar

Interview With Cobra Kai Actor Gianni Decenzo Jpg

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix

We recently had the pleasure of talking about Cobra Kai with actor Gianni DeCenzo, aka Demetri Alexopoulos of Miyagi-Do karate. 

Since 2018, Gianni DeCenzo has starred as Demetri Alexopoulos, the resident nerd of Miyagi-Do Karate, who has a hilarious habit of talking his way into trouble.

As a child, Gianni DeCenzo starred in commercials for Sears, Sutter Health, Geico, Honda, and Subway. He also landed several minor acting roles, having starred in single episodes of The Middle, The League, Back in the Game, Liv and Maddie. Since taking on the role of Demitri, Gianni has starred in NCIS as Owen and in NCIS: Los Angeles as Luke Austin.

Gianni will return to reprise his role as Demetri in the upcoming sixth season of Cobra Kai.

How did you first become involved with Cobra Kai?

Gianni: I was 16 years old, and I was kind of going through this weird growth period where I was tall enough to play older characters, but they were looking for people 18 and older to play those characters. So I wasn’t getting a whole lot of auditions. I think literally there was almost a year of a dry period where I just wasn’t really going in to see anything, and then one day, I got Cobra Kai.

I went in for the one audition. I did the Cafeteria scene where my character talks about handjobs, which was super great for me as a 16-year-old talking to just a random woman in a room. I did that audition. I think I read it twice, and then that weekend, They told me to fly out to Atlanta to film, which was the first time I had ever flown anywhere to film, which was cool. The rest is history. I’ve been having an awesome time. I think it’s been seven years now.

Jacob: Cobra Kai was a YouTube original first before moving to Netflix. How was the switch?

Gianni: I didn’t even realize it was happening until it happened. Yeah, we filmed our third season on YouTube. But then YouTube decided not to continue with all of its original content. They moved to a different thing. But yeah, Netflix picked it up, and it’s been awesome ever since. They’re a great home, and it’s great working with them.

Jacob: Once Cobra Kai moved to Netflix, seasons three, four, and five came out super fast, but the sixth season has brought things to a grinding halt.

Gianni: Well, what we did was we filmed four and five in one year. Literally, we filmed four, and I was like, okay, great. That was super fun. We did the tournament. It was so great. Then I went to do ADR, and they told me, “Oh, you’re about to go back in about a month,” It was like, ” Oh, okay, great. So yeah, I’ve never done that before, filming two seasons one after the other, but it was very interesting filming.

Jacob: Was that intense filming seasons back-to-back?

Gianni: Yeah, because I think things really slowed down when Covid happened. I think we ended up being behind schedule Because, you know what, with Covid, you had to break up the different groups. Group A would be actors and anyone directly with the actors, and then Group B would be lighting, so when one group stepped in, the other would have to step out. So, what would usually take ten minutes to set up a scene took about 30, and usually, it would take us threeish months to film, but with Covid, it took four now.

What’s in store for Dimitri next season?

Gianni: I die, my character dies. Yeah, it is utterly unrelated to karate. He slips and falls and dies. No, I mean the thing I’ve always wanted to see with my character is how he develops into a more confident version of himself. Because, like we saw in season one, he was very much like, “I know I’m gonna stay in my own lane. I don’t want to like to go out of my comfort zone; I don’t want to risk failure,” and throughout the seasons. We’ve been able to see him grow as a more confident person.

He’s become better at karate. He got a super hot, super popular girlfriend. Things have been going great for him. He ended up in the semi-finalists of the All-Valley tournament, which was his first tournament ever, and it was terrific. So yeah, I want to see him grow even more in season six. And yeah, I can’t give out any spoilers, but it will be a great season. That’s all I can say.

Interview With Cobra Kai Actor Gianni Decenzo Sam La Russo Jpg

Picture: Gianni DeCenzo and Mary Mouser – Counterbalance Entertainment

Jacob: Demitri has always been one of my favorite characters because, like how you spoke about his confidence, he always came across as a confident introvert. We’ve got to see that transition of him going from being one of the unpopular kids to gaining that outward confidence he’s always wanted, thanks to karate, and gaining the ability to defend himself.

Gianni: Yeah, I like that. I’ve never heard of a confident introvert, but that’s totally, that’s spot-on. He knew who he was from the very beginning. It was just a matter of being willing to step outside of himself.

Jacob: Did you know any karate before Cobra Kai, or was it something you learned throughout the series?

Gianni: I did Taekwondo when I was eight. I think I got up to an orange belt, but I don’t think that really counts. More recently, I’ve done Krav Maga, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is an Israeli fighting technique they would use in the military. It’s not as flashy as karate or Taekwondo. It’s more about kicking people in the groin and gouging their eyes out. It’s very much like “I want to survive,” whereas, you know, karate is a martial art. It looks so amazing. And so, you know, Krav Maga helped me a little bit, but I think the coolest kick they have is a side roundhouse, and in karate, there’s like tornado roundhouses or back hook kicks and all that crazy stuff.  So, it helped me a little, but I’ve definitely learned a lot from this show. We have a fantastic stunt team. They teach us whenever they can because they train us and choreograph all the fights. You can imagine they get pretty busy when we film, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re a great team.

Interview With Cobra Kai Actor Gianni Decenzo Ralph Macchio Jpg

Picture: Gianni DeCenzo and Ralph Maccio – Counterbalance Entertainment

Jacob: Speaking of fights, how was the school fight between you and Jacob (Hawk) from the end of the second season shot?

Gianni: That was literally the last scene of the entire season. They were filming all the fight stuff back-to-back, and sometimes, they weren’t using audio. So while we were maybe fighting that, upstairs, an utterly different fight was going on like that was insane. I think 17 at the time, and if you’re under the age of 18 on set, There’s like a certain amount of time that you can stay on, and then you have to leave. It’s called pumpkins. So I was literally 30 minutes away from Pumpkining. They had to get that scene out, And then with the actual trophy case, they have little things. I think they’re called squibs, like tiny explosives. So when a stunt double goes into the trophy case, They set it off at the exact same moment, and it just absolutely shatters. I think Jacob wanted to do that stunt. He usually does all of his own because he’s a madman, and I think they turned him down because there WAS broken glass everywhere. He would have to fly into actual trophies. I think he could have handled it though.


What was it like working with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka?

Gianni: When I first started, I was terrified. I get very starstruck sometimes, and so the first scene I had with Billy was me Criticizing him and then him flipping me and punching me in the gut. It was terrifying, but he’s a super cool dude.

I remember when we first did that scene, and he was actually teaching people in between takes how to throw punches like an actual karate sensei. So that was pretty cool to see, but no. They’re super down-to-earth. I love working with Billy, Ralph, and Marty, who plays Kreese. However, when I did my scene where I’m criticizing his tattoo, which I criticize just about everyone on this show, I realized that’s great. I get beat up a lot, but when I was criticizing his tattoo, he’s such a professional. He stayed in Kreese mode, even when the camera wasn’t on him, so that I could have an eyeline and, like as the character, I’m completely oblivious, but as myself, I’m like, dude, what are you doing? Stop talking? You’re going to get destroyed here. Sure enough. He breaks his nose, which was also super fun because that was the first time I got to work with fake blood. It’s sticky and not great, but I love working with them. It’s been an awesome seven years of my life. It’s super fun.

Jacob: And how about the rest of the cast? I know you were already 16 when you started, but it’s like you’ve all grown up together.

Gianni: Yeah, dude. I mean, they’re my family. They’re my family, only we beat each other up a lot more than I would say my actual family does, which is great. No, I love working with them. Like I said, I started when I was 16, I’m 22 now, and Jacob just had his 24th birthday.  So we’re, you know, we’re growing up together. I might go hang out with him later today. We’ll go out to brunch before a scene or something; yeah, if we have like a late call, it’s great, I love working with these guys. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gettyimages 1421798546 Jpg

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 07: Cast of Cobra Kai attends Netflix’s Cobra Kai Season 5 Los Angeles Premiere at Los Angeles Historical Park on September 07, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

What’s next for you after Cobra Kai?

Gianni: Right now, I’m working on writing because the thing about acting is it’s super fun, but a lot of times, it’s kind of like you’re waiting for someone else to give you that next opportunity. So, to kind of like do something on my own that I want to make, I’ve been trying to get into writing, and I have a couple of ideas for TV shows and movies that I eventually want to pitch, but yeah, I’m just gonna keep working on that, and who knows?

Jacob: Is there anything specific that you like writing about?

Gianni: I mostly like to write comedy—a lot. It’s just for me when I’m writing it, it flows so well, and I love doing comedic stuff. I mean, I love playing my character. Sometimes, he gets to be the comedic relief, and it’s just super fun. I want to write some parts in for myself to play something funny. Yeah, mostly comedy, maybe action. I also like action. Thanks to this show, I have a newfound appreciation for action.

I mean, this is the first time I’ve ever done So much fighting and so much choreography. It’s kind of like dancing. Maybe action comedy is something like that, which would be cool.

Jacob: Did you watch Obliterated? The guys who created Cobra Kai were behind Obliterated as well.

Gianni: I did! Have you seen it?

Jacob: I enjoyed it. I thought it was great.

Gianni: I’m sad I heard that it got canceled, though. But I definitely thought it was funny. I was curious to see where it could have gone because, at first, I thought it would be left kind of open-ended, but it was fully resolved. So I thought maybe it could be like an anthology series because, with a name like Obliterated, it could be. You know, anything in that kind of action comedy genre, like an American Horror Story, each season is different.

If Cobra Kai could crossover with any franchise, movie, TV show, or video game, what would it be?

Gianni: Dude, I want to see a Magic the Gathering crossover. Jacob got me and Xolo into it. For anyone who doesn’t know, Hawk plays Jacob, and Xolo plays Miguel. He got us into it in like season two, and ever since then, he’s just been kicking our ass.

Jacob: I play, too, and I saw them both on the Command Zone once.

Gianni: I’d be so nervous to go on there. I’m not a very good magic player, I don’t know. I get confused about the stack and everything. It’s technical, man, but they did a crossover with Stranger Things; I think they gave them some really cool cards. I want to see myself on a card, but that would be badass. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also did a crossover with Cobra Kai, like a toy collection. It would be cool if we explored that a little bit I’d like to fight a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. My character would die, though, if we fought them.

Interview With Cobra Kai Actor Gianni Decenzo Ninja Turtles Jpg

Picture: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover with Cobra Kai –

Jacob: Which of the four [Ninja Turtles ]would you prefer to fight?

Gianni: God, oh man, ooh, which one’s the purple one, Donatello? Yeah, Donatello, I’d like to fight him because I like to think that if I were a turtle, I’d be him. He’d go the easiest on me. I feel like if you came across Raphael, you know, yeah, I’d be like red mist on the floor.

Jacob: Yeah, if you came across Raphael…

Gianni: Oh god, yeah, he would murder me! I’d be like a red mist on the floor!

Are you excited for the upcoming sixth season of Cobra Kai on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!