Mary Mouser kicks butt for a living, but the Cobra Kai star has a softer approach for the planet. “I like to remind my friends that nature isn’t just beautiful, it’s actually really fun,” she says. “Feeling excitement about the planet makes people think more carefully about protecting it.”
The Arkansas native grew up filming TV shows like Scandal and NCIS, and has noticed a bigger push at work for recycled and reusable practices. “It’s cool seeing so much awareness happen,” she notes, “But obviously, we can always do better.” Here’s how Mary is making time for nature in her very busy schedule, what happens when the Cobra Kai team films outdoors, and what she wants to know about sloths.
Mary! What’s your wild element—earth, air, fire, water, or space?I’m a Taurus and I have the same relationship with the elements as I did with my name. I grew up being like, “I’m not a Mary. This is the wrong name for me!” And one day, I was like, “Crap, I am a Mary through and through.” Same with being an earth sign. “Not me! Preposterous! And I said this for years, until one day, I’m lying there sipping wine, watching a baking show, eating pasta with a face mask on. And I’m like, “Yeah. I’m an earth sign. This is me.”
How has your relationship to nature changed as you’ve grown up?
I always thought the “me” in Arkansas was the same “me” in California. And then my friend and [Cobra Kai] castmate Tanner [Buchanan] is from Ohio. His family invited me to go back and visit with him. And there were so many things I realized I used to do in Arkansas that I’d forgotten in California. Grounding was one of them—I always ran around barefoot as a kid. Even if there was gravel or rocks; who cares? And in Ohio, I didn’t put shoes on… I slept under the stars… I also realized how much I miss seasons. There’s something to building snowmen or jumping leaf piles after you collect them.
A lot of Cobra Kai’s coolest scenes—the koi pond workout, the beach meditation—happen in nature. What’s that like?Oh, it’s the coolest thing ever. We actually do shoot the Miyagi-Do training scenes in a backyard. It’s actually outside and we’re actually barefoot. Same with that beach scene. And it’s fun, because these scenes are exercises about getting stronger and more powerful, but when you’re in nature, you realize you’re just a small part of what’s going on. Also, I have to tell you, Miyagi-Do is home to many yellow jackets.
Oh no!So in those moments, nature is a less calming force. I may dive behind one of my castmates to avoid them. But it’s worth it because filming outdoors is amazing. And I mean, we’re outside, so it’s their home; not ours.
What kinds of swaps does Cobra Kai make during production to be more planet-forward?I’ve been really impressed, specifically, with our head makeup artist, Jamie Cline. She has made a ton of swaps to be more conscious of the environment. That’s super-hard, because there are so many actors on Cobra Kai, and you can’t cross-contaminate any products, so usually on a set, things are very single-use, and then they get trashed. But she made swaps using bamboo cotton swabs instead of plastic ones. For a lot of application and removal, she uses the cotton rounds that you can wash and reuse hygienically, instead of tossing them. She even keeps a recycling bin in the makeup trailer so we can bring our plastic and paper over. And we all need a lot of makeup—scars, fake bruises, coverup for real bruises, tattoos… so the fact that she makes that effort is amazing.
Please tell us your favorite animal fact.Oh, I love so many animals. I rode horses as a kid… But I think my favorite fact is that sloths are actually great swimmers. They can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes, and they can swim much faster than they walk. [Up to a half mile per hour!]
At Wild Elements, our motto is “Let good grow wild.” What does that mean to you?The mental image that brings up in my mind is this summer. Truly just being more comfortable in the environment I’m in. Just acknowledging the fact that all these different parts inside of me can all be good and great where they belong. The LA side of me can be the LA side of me, but I can still run around barefoot. I can be comfortable in that world.
Watch Mary Mouser on Cobra Kai, now on Netflix.