The Karate Kid Cast: Life After The Movie

Released in 1984, The Karate Kid movie inspired a whole generation of fans. Not only did it find the sweet spot between marital arts and teen drama, but it also introduced us to a host of unforgettable and relatable characters.

Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio in a scene from the film 'The Karate Kid' / Getty Images

Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio in a scene from the film 'The Karate Kid' / Getty Images


While many of the cast members have returned to their roles on Cobra Kai, there have been some notable exceptions. And now is a good a time as any to see what they’ve all been keeping busy with. Join us as we go back to the future to see what the cast from The Karate Kid 1984 have been up to!

Getty Images

Getty Images


RALPH MACCHIO

When you think of Ralph, you immediately think of Daniel LaRusso. After starring as the character in the first three Karate Kid films, he reprised his iconic role for Cobra Kai in 2018. As a teen heartthrob and recognized face in the 80s, you’d think he’d have some more blockbuster movies in his filmography.

Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images

Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images


However, the only other major role he had was in My Cousin Vinny, where he starred alongside Joe Pesci. Funny enough, there’s no real controversy about this. While he still maintained a decent enough career and appeared in a couple of TV shows and films throughout the decades, he decided to put his family first.

Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images

Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images


He married his childhood sweetheart Phyllis Fierro in 1987 and together they have two children, Julia and Daniel. Speaking about why his career didn’t become as big as it could’ve, Ralph told The Guardian: 

Phyllis Fierro and Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images

Phyllis Fierro and Ralph Macchio / Photo:Getty Images


“I wasn’t the biggest risk-taker, and I’m sure there were lost opportunities because of that. But also, maybe my caution helped me to stay grounded, so I’m at peace with the choices I made.”

Ralph Macchio with his family / Photo:Getty Images

Ralph Macchio with his family / Photo:Getty Images


Instead of months on set, he was able to enjoy watching baseball games in his hometown and to spend time with his family. He doesn’t feel as if he lost out on anything, because he was able to live a normal life and to be there for the moments that matter.


Now, with the return of Cobra Kai, he has the ability to connect with a new generation of fans as well as to recapture the glory of the old days. So, all things considered, it looks like things turned out more than OK for Ralph!


CHAD MCQUEEN

If someone were to tell you that the legendary Steve McQueen’s son, Chad, was in The Karate Kid, you’d think he was the lead star. Well, not in this case. Instead, Chad played Dutch, one of Johnny’s sneaky sidekicks in the movie.

Chad McQueen / Photo:Getty Images

Chad McQueen / Photo:Getty Images


With such a famous surname, this should’ve been the start of a huge movie career, but it wasn’t meant to be for him. While he did appear in more films after The Karate Kid, his true passion lay in his late father’s other interest: high-speed racing. 

Steve McQueen / Photo:Getty Images

Steve McQueen / Photo:Getty Images


In fact, he almost lost his life to the sport in 2006 after experiencing a serious crash in Daytona. Thankfully, Chad recovered from his injuries, but he did put his racing days behind him, choosing to go into the business side of things. 


It was his commitment to his company McQueen Racing that actually prevented him from appearing in the Season 2 episode of Cobra Kai which featured a reunion with all of the old Cobra Kai boys. Who knows, maybe he’ll find some time in Season 3 to make an appearance? 


While the acting bug didn’t quite sink its teeth into Chad, it did grab his son, Steven R. McQueen, whom you might recognize from The Vampire Diaries and Chicago Fire. 

Steven R. McQueen / Photo:Getty Images

Steven R. McQueen / Photo:Getty Images


But if you were to ask Chad if he has any regrets about how his life turned out, he’ll tell you that he has absolutely none. He’s following his passion and living the dream. And he didn’t even need to sweep the leg to do so!


ELISABETH SHUE

Did you ever think that Elisabeth would have become the biggest star from The Karate Kid? Well, it’s true. Not only did she outshine her co-stars, she’s gone on to become one of the most well-known and beloved actresses in the world.

Elisabeth Shue / Photo:Getty Images

Elisabeth Shue / Photo:Getty Images


From starring in Back to the Future Parts 2 and 3 to sharing the screen with Tom Cruise in Cocktail and then getting nominated for all the awards and praise for Leaving Las Vegas, Elisabeth is simply what you’d call a blockbuster performer. More recently, she starred in CSI and even The Boys, where she has wowed audiences with a slightly more villainous demeanor.


Since her breakout role in The Karate Kid, Elisabeth hasn’t stopped for a second, starring in more films and TV series than we can name. In that time, she’s also managed to get married and have three kids while still maintaining that insanely hectic schedule! Talk about being a superwoman!

Elisabeth Shue and her husband Davis Guggenheim / Photo:Getty Images

Elisabeth Shue and her husband Davis Guggenheim / Photo:Getty Images


While The Karate Kid played a huge part in the trajectory of her career, Elisabeth hasn’t made an appearance on the follow-up show Cobra Kai yet. At first, she said she wasn’t interested in reviving her role as Ali, but her stance has changed since then. 


In fact, there’s a good chance that she could be appearing in Season 3 of the show if all the rumors are to be believed. The only question is, does she get a bigger trailer than all her co-stars now?

Elisabeth Shue / Photo:Getty Images

Elisabeth Shue / Photo:Getty Images


WILLIAM ZABKA

For years, Johnny Lawrence was seen as the perpetual bad boy of The Karate Kid. Thanks to How I Met Your Mother, though, a popular theory spread that he was actually the hero of the movie - and Daniel was the real bully. 

William Zabka / Photo:Getty Images

William Zabka / Photo:Getty Images


Behind the scenes, William is nothing like Johnny - except for the martial arts skills, because he has a second-degree green belt in Tang Soo Do. After wrapping up his work on The Karate Kid, William went on to appear in other 80s and 90s films, such as National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

William Zabka speaks at the 2016 Phoenix Comicon / Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0 / flickr.com

William Zabka speaks at the 2016 Phoenix Comicon / Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0 / flickr.com


Unfortunately, he kept getting cast as the typical class bully, which resulted in people harassing him in the streets because they thought he was like the characters he played in real life. Credit to him for, ahem, showing mercy to these weirdos. 


Stepping away from always being typecast, William pursued other roles and opportunities, even behind the camera. And he experienced varying degrees of success - including an Academy Award nomination for co-writing and producing the short film Most.

Getty Images

Getty Images


Nowadays, you can watch William on Cobra Kai, as he attempts to rewrite Johnny’s story. And he’s still as grateful as ever to the franchise for giving him everything he has today. This time, however, he might be able to end Johnny’s storyline on his terms! Speaking about the part to The Action Elite, he said:


“Clearly, I’m identified and known as that character, it’s kind of like a shadow that’s in my life, an alter ego sort of, and people don’t always realize I’m me. It changed my life, I mean it’s thirty years later and we’re still talking about it.” 

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka / Photo:Getty Images

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka / Photo:Getty Images


RANDEE HELLER

Daniel’s mom, Lucille, didn’t play as big of a role as some of the other characters, but it was easy to see how her quirkiness and good nature rubbed off on her son. Playing the character was Randee, a seasoned television actress by the time she took the part. 

Randee Heller / Photo:Getty Images

Randee Heller / Photo:Getty Images


She’d achieved acclaim and headlines for playing Alice - one of TV’s first lesbian characters - in the sitcom Soap. After appearing in The Karate Kid, she split her time between film, TV, and broadway, even appearing as Barbra Streisand’s mother in the stage performance of Timeless.

Randee Heller / Photo:Getty Images

Randee Heller / Photo:Getty Images