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Peyton List Plays ‘The Friendship Game’ with ‘Cobra Kai’ Characters

It’s only been about two months since the release of Cobra Kai Season 5 on Netflix, but Peyton List is back with yet another project, a psychological horror film called The Friendship Game. List stars opposite Brendan Meyer, Kelcey Mawema, and Kaitlyn Santa Juana as a group of friends with hopes of being best friends forever. They get the opportunity to put that bond to the test when Cotton (Santa Juana) comes across an unusual looking item at a garage sale. This is the Friendship Game, a device that tests friends’ loyalty. As teased by director Scooter Corkle, “If your friendships don’t survive the game, neither do you.” With The Friendship Game now available to watch on demand and in theaters, List returned for another round of Collider Ladies Night to dig deeper into her journey in the industry thus far and to discuss how her process has evolved over the years.

The Cast of The Friendship Game
Image via RLJE Films
While List has learned quite a bit along the way, she took a moment to pinpoint one extremely useful quality she has that’s been there from the very beginning: “This isn’t even necessarily a technique, but I think just having my brain switch into go mode when it needs to go. It just always comes through. Right now I’m working on a show and there’s huge scenes every day and we’re doing these big days, and the night before I’ll be like, ‘I was so focused on this scene. I’m panicking about this one today!’ It just turns on and clicks when it needs to, and I’m very grateful for that. That’s not even a technique. That just is me thriving off of pressure.”

Pair innate abilities like that with skills gained via experience and the possibilities are endless for List. She’s been an ace on Cobra Kai since Tory’s very first appearance on the show, but with every single season, List shows off even more range and nuance while tackling Tory’s increasingly complex challenges. Just like in Cobra Kai, List also has a mighty firm handle on her character in The Friendship Game, something that might be the result of an acting technique she picked up along the way. List explained: “A technique I learned is just really creating a core memory for the person, all kinds of memories from the second you can remember as a child to now, just sort of building more so that when a character says something about a mother or father, whatever the character is, it triggers memories and responses. That really helps me so it’s not just sitting there thinking about the line in the moment, but it’s just thinking about everything else going on.”

Peyton List in Cobra Kai
Image via Netflix
The growth continues on the project she’s filming right now, the upcoming Paramount+ Series, School Spirits. List is a seasoned pro, but there’s an up-and-comer on that set that’s challenging her to try new things courtesy of their different acting backgrounds. Here’s how she put it: “There’s a guy that I’m working with right now on this show that I’m doing for Paramount here, his name is Kristian Flores, and he studied at USC for theater. And a couple of people have studied here and gone to school for acting, and that’s a whole new thing for me because I didn’t go to college for this. I’ve just been doing it for a while and I just sort of skipped over the whole college thing, and to sort of adjust to him and the way he works and what he’s learned and his techniques is really different. And at first, it frustrated me and I realized it’s because he challenges me, and he’s just really good and he brings something to the table. Whenever we have emotional scenes, I don’t even have to try because he just makes me cry: As for The Friendship Game, that film presented a unique and very exciting opportunity for List. Rather than completely losing herself in the role of Zooza, director Scooter Corkle wanted her to bring some of herself to the character. He was like, ‘I just want you to be able to bring so much of yourself to this and really bring parts of yourself to Zooza,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, usually people just want you to be completely someone else,’ but he was like, ‘No, I really want you to bring parts of Peyton into this.’”

Peyton List in The Friendship Game
Image via RLJE Films
Want to keep an eye out for a quality of Zooza’s that comes directly from List? Here’s what she teased:

“I think the way Zooza communicates to her friends or kind of holds back her emotions, she thinks she’s showing what she wants but she’s not, is very much me. At some points I was like, when in doubt, I will just think about the way I handle emotions in this sense. So I felt like it was very much me showing my real self in a lot of moments that I maybe, you know, when a camera turns on or someone starts recording it’s like you become this version you think people want to see and then in that I just kind of felt like, okay, when I’m playing someone else, it allows me to be more myself in a weird way.”

While having a little fun with the Friendship Game concept, I asked List what might happen if Cobra Kai’s Tory played the game. If Tory came across the device at a garage sale, which three Cobra Kai characters should she choose to play with in an effort to give herself the best chance of surviving? “I think she picks Robby, Kreese, and Miguel.” Even after all of that Season 5 manipulation, List still thinks Kreese is a solid pick? Is he really someone who’ll remain loyal so they can make it through the game alive? “I know! That’s a wild card, but Kreese and Tory have something where they’re never going to hurt one another, hopefully.”

Eager to hear more from List on the very important lessons she’s learned from her mom, the single scene she’s most proud of, what makes her Friendship Game co-star Brendan Meyer a true standout, and then some? Be sure to catch her episode of Collider Ladies Night at the top of this article!


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