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Tag Archive: Martin Kove


Quentin Tarentino‘s next film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has so many reasons to give it your attention, where do we begin?  As heavily advertised, the “retired director” is back as writer and director on his ninth film, and every one of his films gains critical and popular acclaim–from Reservoir Dogs to The Hateful Eight, they’re all notable for Tarentino’s unique brash and violent style.  Emphasize that style element because he tends to hit the right mark when searching out throwback vibes for his fans, whether via Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in the 1970s in Jackie Brown or reaching back through time with 1950s nostalgia with John Travolta and Uma Thurman in a retro diner in Pulp Fiction.  So where will Tarentino turn for a film set in 1969?  Something violent in an era of unique style.  So the “Manson family” murders, of course.

The biggest risk for Tarentino (beyond being seen as exploiting a murder still in the national consciousness 50 years later) is casting some major actors, and some not-so-major actors, as actors from the past.  The easier question to answer may be “Who isn’t in this movie?”  In the leading role is Leonardo DiCaprio as a fictional character based on Burt Reynolds.  Brad Pitt co-stars as a character based on Reynolds’ long-time stuntman, Hal Needham.  Margot Robbie plays actress and Manson family victim Sharon Tate, who was married to Roman Polanski and pregnant at the time of her murder.  Dakota Fanning plays Squeaky Fromme, Bruce Dern plays the rancher that allowed the Mansons to reside on his land where they are believed to have planned the murders, and Lena Dunham plays another Manson family member.  Al Pacino plays a Hollywood agent, and from the Tarentino acting troupe, look for bit appearances by regulars Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen.  As a sad footnote, this will be the last film appearance of Luke Perry, who portrays real-life TV Western star Wayne Maunder, who died just this past November.

But the real challenge is casting Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, Connie Stevens, and Mama Cass Elliot in the film–highly-recognizable icons.  Those roles go to Homeland and Life’s Damian Lewis as McQueen, Empire and Inhumans’ Mike Moh as Lee, Dreama Walker (Gran Torino) as Stevens, and Rachel Redleaf as Cass.  We only get a brief look at Redleaf and longer view of Moh as Lee (with a decent vocal impersonation) in the first trailer for the film–Lee had been working on a film with Sharon Tate.  Tarentino also invited in a league of children of well-known actors for his film, like Andie MacDowell’s daughter Margaret Qualley (IO), Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis (Hawaii Five-O), Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter Maya Hawke (Stranger Things), Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith (Supergirl), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Star Trek 2009) grandson of Western actor Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, and one more relative, Tarentino’s wife, Daniella Pick (Pick Up, Exit).  

Along with real-world characters, Tarentino pulled in some familiar actors from the late 1960s and 1970s, including Nicholas Hammond, known for role as Peter Parker in TV’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a regular face from the 1970s and 1980s: Martin Kove (The Karate Kid), and Brenda Vaccaro (Airport ’77, Capricorn One).  And even frequent TV guest star Spencer Garrett is a ringer for any number of Disney film stars from the 1960s (and he’s the son of actress Kathleen Nolan (Magnum, p.i., The Incredible Hulk)).  There are many more familiar actors in this one, including James Marsden (X-Men), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Lorenza Izzo (The House With a Clock in Its Walls), Sydney Sweeney (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer favorite Danny Strong.  (With so many extras listed as Playboy Bunnies, it’s probably fair to expect a cameo from someone playing Hugh Hefner, too).

In case you missed it, here is the first trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:

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Thirty years later that little punk you wanted to crane-kick in the head is back, but he may very well be a different person as an adult.  Take yourself back to the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, where Daniel LaRusso proved he had the right stuff against Johnny Lawrence after the infamous “sweep the leg” gave Daniel the mojo he needed to win the trophy, after learning some lessons in karate–and life–courtesy of Mr. Miyagi.

Ten half-hour episodes of a new comedy-drama are “in the can” for the series Cobra Kai, featuring the return of Ralph Macchio as Daniel and William Zabka as Johnny from the original The Karate Kid.  Johnny is reopening the bad-guy’s dojo-with-no-mojo Cobra Kai, and Daniel LaRusso is not happy about it.  But the positions are somewhat shifted this time around, as Johnny serves as sensei to a kid bullied by his peers, just as Daniel was bullied back in 1984.

Macchio sums it up, playing at our own surprise with this reboot in the first teaser for the series, saying, “I just don’t know why you’d ever want to bring back Cobra Kai,” to Johnny.  A decade ago I discussed a similar effort to re-launch a series with its original actors at San Diego Comic-Con.  I spoke with William Katt and Robert Culp about their efforts to bring The Greatest American Hero back.  They couldn’t make it work, but only last week a reboot was announced for that show, with New Girl co-star Hannah Simone taking on the powers of the suit.  But the leads from The Karate Kid are getting their wish.  Unfortunately the great Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, passed away in 2005.  Morita was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his work on the original film.  And there’s no word yet on whether Martin Kove will make an appearance as Johnny’s original sensei.

Check out this teaser for Cobra Kai:

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