‘Cobra Kai’ Star Xolo Maridueña Learned He Landed DC’s First Latino Superhero Role at a “Punk’d-Style” Dinner

On Aug. 1, Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña showed up to a dinner in Pasadena and received a surprise worthy of a comic book plot twist.

Maridueña was in the running to star in Blue Beetle, the HBO Max movie that will be DC’s first centering on a Latino hero. He believed the dinner was a meet-and-greet with DC Films president Walter Hamada and Warners exec Galen Vaisman, so he was surprised to see Blue Beetle director Angel Manuel Soto, screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and others from the team at a nearby table.

“It was an Ashton Kutcher Punk’d -style,” says Maridueña with a laugh. Soto offered him the job on the spot.

“He got very emotional,” Hamada recalls of Maridueña’s reaction. “Later we called his mom. Angel actually spoke to the mom and said, ‘I’m asking your son to be our Blue Beetle,’ and he started to cry a little bit.”

Hamada says the Warners team did not go through the normal, prolonged search that usually happens when finding a superhero and settled on the actor quickly.

Soto, who first met Maridueña a few years earlier at Sundance, had the actor in mind from the time he signed on to direct the HBO Max feature. “His persona is pretty much the character of Jaime Reyes,” Soto says, referencing the teenage hero at the heart of the film. “It was a natural fit.”

This story first appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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