Sean Kanan made a name for himself after starring in “Karate Kid III” in the late ’80s, but his work almost never saw the big screen. In fact, he almost died during filming and then made some questionable decisions to keep his role.
The actor, now 55, revealed that she suffered internal bleeding while shooting the third installment of the “Karate Kid” films.
In a chat with DailyMail.com, Sean recalled feeling some pain in his thigh while filming the franchise’s third installment, but he believed it was nothing more than a minor injury from all the karate he’d been doing. Soon after, during a production halt for a Christmas hiatus, Sean and a pal headed to Las Vegas.
“I passed out in the Dunes Casino and it turned out that the pain in my leg was internal bleeding and it was the blood dripping down on my femoral artery,” Sean said. “I’d been bleeding for days and so they rushed me to the hospital. They said, ‘We don’t know if we can save your life – we’re going to try.'”
The “Bold and the Beautiful” vet added, “It was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life.”
In that moment, Sean was several weeks into playing bad boy Mike Barnes and he was fearful of being recast.
“I knew if they cut through the abdominal muscles, I’d be out of the film. There’s no way to get back to heal that quickly,” he said.
In the end, the doctors were able to avoid slicing through his abs.
“They obviously saved my life. And, I got a call from the studio – no flowers, no balloons – just you need to be back at work in, I think it was like, 12 days or something or we’re going to recast,” Sean said, recalling that he was “crushed” and then angry by the studio’s response.
To this day, he still thinks the studio handled his situation poorly.
Still, knowing that being recast was a real possibility, Sean asked to be discharged against medical advice. Then, just days after being released from the hospital for a near-fatal injury, he shot nearly all of his own stunts.
“I wound up being able to do all my own stunts [with] the exception of, I think, one driving stunt I didn’t do,” he said. “When people ask me [if] ‘Karate Kid III’ [is] a special movie to me, I think a lot of people think it is because it inserted me into this worldwide phenomenon. It’s not because of that. It’s because at 22/23-years-old, I remember I was faced with my own mortality. They didn’t know if I could live.”
“I had to fight,” he continued. “As I was going into surgery, I could feel myself getting cold and getting tired and slipping away. I knew I could just … go to sleep.”
As a permanent reminder of that experience, Sean sports a 15-inch scar down the center of his abdomen.
“As terrible an experience as it was at the time, I wouldn’t trade it because it was one of the most defining experiences of my life,” he said. “And it’s a hell of a story.”
Fast forward to 2022, Sean has reprised his Mike Barnes character for season 5 of Netflix’s “Cobra Kai,” calling it a “humbling” experience to work with Ralph Macchio again.
“It was great to be able to work with Ralph now as a man, as opposed to being like this 22-year-old kid who was just getting into the business,” he said. “It was bizarre. At one point, Ralph and I were just looking at each other. Do you believe this? It’s humbling.”