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Cobra Kai Star Dallas Dupree Young Dishes On Why Kenny Is More Like Daniel Than You Might Think - Exclusive

While the hit Netflix series "Cobra Kai" is rooted in the stories of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) more than three decades after the 1984 classic "The Karate Kid," the series has shown there's plenty of room for more characters. Among the actors benefitting from the expansive narrative of "Cobra Kai" is Dallas Dupree Young, whose young teen character, Kenny Payne, became a part of the storyline in Season 4.

Promoted to a series regular for "Cobra Kai" Season 5, Young has witnessed how Kenny's role has become more prominent with each episode. It makes sense, given that Kenny's storyline reflects that of Daniel's plight in the original "Karate Kid." When Kenny is introduced in "Cobra Kai," he's the new kid in middle school struggling to make friends. Kenny attracts his share of bullies, though, including an unlikely threat in Daniel's son, Anthony (Griffin Santopietro). It's a cruel twist on the original "Karate Kid" storyline since Daniel was the teen being bullied and Anthony has taken on the bully role. On the flip side, Kenny has effectively become the modern-day Daniel.

But that's not the only twist for Kenny in relation to his "Karate Kid" predecessor. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Young reflected on how the similarities between Kenny and Daniel in "Cobra Kai" continue in Season 5. In "The Karate Kid," Daniel seeks out a positive influence and learns to defend himself with the karate teachings of Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita). But with no one to guide Kenny down the right path in "Cobra Kai" — he is being bullied by Daniel's son, after all — the impressionable middle schooler turns to the "No Mercy" ways of the Cobra Kai dojo. Before too long, Kenny falls for the cutthroat conduct of sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) and his new partner, sensei Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), and becomes a bully himself.

Young knew his character arc was going to 'have a lot of purpose'

Dallas Dupree Young told Looper that when he joined "Cobra Kai," it was clear the creative minds behind the series wanted to reach "every single kid who's struggling with bullying." To do that, though, it meant that Kenny would eventually turn from the bullied kid to being a bully himself — a role he dutifully accepted to help paint a much bigger picture.

"The whole entire twist was so well executed from the creators of the show, Jon [Hurwitz], Josh [Heald], and Hayden [Schlossberg]. Whenever they gave me the layout of the whole entire season with my character's arc, I was mesmerized," Young recalled. "You could tell the arc was going to be special, and it was going to have a lot of purpose in it and a lot of meaning."

Interestingly, Young added, Kenny's story arc doesn't only draw from Daniel's travails in the first "Karate Kid" movie — it also reflects Daniel's fall from grace in "The Karate Kid Part III."

"It's cool that my character has moments that are direct homages to Daniel LaRusso and his journey," Young observed. "It's cool how my character goes from a kid — who's the sweetest kid — and then toward the end of Season 4, you see me beat up Anthony LaRusso. It reminds me of when Daniel was trained with Mr. Miyagi, and then Terry Silver got Daniel [in "The Karate Kid Part III"]. He turned to that side for a little bit. Ultimately, he went back to Miyagi, but still, he went through that phase of going to the bad side. I thought that was so well planned by the creators and writers of the show."

All five seasons of "Cobra Kai" are streaming exclusively on Netflix.