Courtney Henggeler: Proving Them Wrong

Words + Interview By: Krystal Luster

Mother, actress and master of wit, Courtney Henggeler is a jack-of-all-trades. Courtney stars in the YouTube Red series, “Cobra Kai” as Amanda LaRusso; wife of the original karate kid, Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio). This has been a busy year for the actress as she has also returned on screen for the season finale of, “The Big Bang Theory”. When Courtney isn’t working she enjoys being home with her family.

Did you feel your parents weren’t as supportive in the beginning of you acting/wanting to act? 
I feel like my parents were always very supportive of my creative side but my mom had concerns about how I would handle the rejection side of the business. I would do anything to protect my son from feeling the turmoil this business can put you through. So, as much as I begged and pleaded that they allow me to audition for Star Search, they refused to allow me anywhere near anything other than the school play. Once I decided to major in Theater, they knew this wasn’t a kooky phase I was going to grow out of.

Do you believe children are pushed into stardom too soon?  
Oh, I don’t know. Every child and situation is so unique. I will say that as much as I wanted to be an actor when I was young, I am very grateful for not achieving any sort of success early on.  When you’re young, you’re not a whole person yet. You have too many things yet to experience; heartache, confidence, getting your confidence knocked out of you, finding your way back to having your confidence, etc. I’m not saying it’s not possible to have those experiences while still enjoying a career while you’re young but this business can give you a warped sense of reality. For me, it was much better for my development that I was kept far away from that.

Do you remember your first acting gig and how you felt?
It was a McDonald’s commercial and you would have thought I won an Oscar. My agent called me and I broke down into an uncontrollable fit of sobbing for over 30 minutes.

Tell us about the YouTube Red series, “Cobra Kai” and your character Amanda LaRusso. 
It’s just such a great show. We really focus on Johnny’s story and how although his life hasn’t turned out the way he expected, he’s not going down without a fight. He’s callus, he’s bitter and he’s so goddamn entertaining. Meanwhile, Daniel’s life has gone brilliantly. My character; Amanda is Daniel’s partner and voice of reason when things start to get a little wild. We’ve been married for 20 years, we have 2 wonderful kids and a successful car empire. But, it’s the return of Cobra Kai that fuel something in Daniel and Johnny both which of course leads to a lot of fun for the viewers.

Are you a fan of the original film series (The Karate Kid) which Cobra Kai is based on? If so, which order would you rank the first 3 films?  
Of course! My husband and I will still watch the original on any given Thursday night. I don’t think I’m alone in saying 1 is the best, then 2 followed by 3 but I’d love to hear someone tell me something different!

Was there a moment of nostalgia being on the same set as the original actors, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka?  
It was more surreal than anything. I found myself just staring creepily at Ralph at times. Obviously, he’s immune to aging but he’s not the kid he was back in 1984. I was meeting present day Ralph Macchio and that’s how I got to know him. He’s an accomplished grown man with a lovely family but then my husband will throw on the OG Karate Kid and I swoon a little for the 1984 Ralph. He was just so adorable!

What type of anticipation from fans have you seen so far and what has stood out to you most?  
I think as excited as most fans are for this new version of The Karate Kid, they are also very wary, as I would be as well. You are taking from something that has stood the test of time for 30 years! It’s a classic and iconic film that everyone has their own special attachment to. You just hope and pray that this doesn’t diminish what they’ve built up in their head. Overall, the response has been incredible!

Tell us about your time on CBS’s, “The Big Bang Theory” and your role as Missy Cooper. Were you at all hesitant about jumping back into character for the season finale?
I was beyond thrilled when I heard that they were bringing back Missy,  then I promptly became nauseous, considering the last time I was in “TBBT” was 10 years ago. It was my first substantial acting job and I was so green back then. However, it ended up being such a wonderful week. Everyone involved in that show are just the best of the best, kind and funny. I feel so lucky to get to go back and play with them.

What about you time on CBS’s “Mom” and your role as Claudia. What are the similarities between you and this character? How are you different?
Ah, poor Cloud-ia. I’m not sure we have a lot in common but she was sure fun to play!  Mom was another one of those really great sets to work on. Allison, Anna and the entire cast is just out of this world talented and so kind. It’s always fun to go to work where everyone is so warm and fun to play with, especially when you get to play someone so ridiculous as Claudia.  

I personally love old movies. What are your favorites?  
I love Bette Davis films, even the weird ones she made in the 80’s. All About Eve is such a classic. Also, I will lose an entire day if I see that Gone with the Wind is on. That is one epically long and awesome movie.

Tell us about your home-life. What do you enjoy most about being at home with your family?  
I have a 15 month old who keeps me very, very busy. He’s a bundle of curiosity wrapped in a death wish. There is nothing he won’t climb or shove in his mouth, including my 14 year old cat. I feel so fortunate that I have a schedule that allows me to spend my days making sure he doesn’t eat a case of dog food or otherwise poison himself but what I enjoy most is when my husband comes home in the evening. We give the little kamikaze a bath and he’s so pooped from trying to kill himself, he just snuggles on us while we read to him about baby goats, tap dancing gerbils or whatever else the kids are reading these days.  

What is your favorite food dish to prepare and/or eat?  
Oh, man. I love to cook but my favorite dishes I always want someone else to make for me. I could eat carne asada tacos from Cactus Taqueria every day and there are times where I do. I also love a good crispy rice   and steak tar tar! I will never trust myself enough to prepare a raw meat feast but you can bet your aunt Sally I will pay someone else to.

So, is it safe to say Thanksgiving is your favorite holiday? 
It’s up there but alas, Christmas has my heart. Thanksgiving has almost everything you need like yummy food, fall-tactic smells, pie, etc. but Christmas wins because it has Johnny Mathis and when presented with pilgrims vs. JM, it’s a hard yes for Johnny.

Lastly, any advice to kids/young adults wanting to pursue an acting career but don’t have the full support of parents/family? How were you able to keep your dream alive?
I think I’m just too damn stubborn. I’ve been fortunate enough that my parents have always been supportive (of my creative side) but this business is the opposite of supportive. It was years of people telling me that I couldn’t that fueled me to prove them wrong. I don’t know if that is healthy but it’s what keeps me going. If you don’t have support from your family you have to find it somewhere else like a class, a kick-ball team, etc. I don’t care where it is as long as it’s anywhere where you have people you respect and trust to trust and respect you. Don’t be too hard on your parents if they don’t understand your need to become an actor. As a parent myself, this business scares the ever living crap out of me. Why would we want the loves of our lives be subjected to rejection and heartbreak daily?

Follow Courtney on Twitter @HenggelerCourt and on Instagram @courtneyhenggeler.

Photo: Rowan Daly
Hair: Ricardo Feririse
Make Up: Pricilla Pae
Stylist: Wilford Lenov

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