The Karate Kid cast: Where are they now?
Most stars of the 1984 classic have shown up on Cobra Kai. But what else has the cast been doing all these years later?
The Karate Kid stars, then and now
Original onscreen rivals Ralph Macchio and William Zabka from 1984's The Karate Kid reunited decades later for the half-hour comedy series aptly titled Cobra Kai. With several cast members returning to wax on and wax off, it's time to check out what the stars were up to in the intervening years.
Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso)
On top of playing everyone's favorite '80s hero Daniel LaRusso, Macchio starred in some other popular movies of yore, including The Outsiders (1983) and My Cousin Vinny (1992). In the 21st century, he appeared in various sitcoms as himself, with the most memorable being on How I Met Your Mother with another special guest (more on that later).
He also had running stints on popular shows like Ugly Betty and Psych. Oh, and he also placed fourth on Dancing With the Stars in 2011 with multiple scores of 30. We wonder what his training process was like? In 2022, Macchio published his memoir, Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me.
Pat Morita (Kesuke Miyagi)
In case you forgot, Pat Morita got a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Oscars for his turn as Daniel's instructor, Mr. Miyagi. "Wax on, wax off" has lived on for decades, but Morita also starred in quite a few high-profile television shows following The Karate Kid and its subsequent sequels, including Baywatch and The Hughleys.
Younger fans who weren't around for the film's success may also recognize him as the voice of the Emperor in Disney's Mulan (1998). Morita died in 2005 at age 73 due to kidney failure. Though Morita is not on Cobra Kai, Mr. Miyagi's defense-based training methods live on.
Elisabeth Shue (Ali Mills)
Back in 1984, Elisabeth Shue shined as Ali, the central love interest in the film, and audiences fell in love with her, too. In 1996, she was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for her role in Leaving Las Vegas alongside Nicolas Cage.
After a successful run in the '80s and '90s, Shue narrated 2002's Tuck Everlasting, and, in an underappreciated role, appeared as herself in 2007's Hamlet 2. Other films Shue has appeared in include Battle of the Sexes (2017), Death Wish (2018), and Greyhound (2020). She appeared as a regular on CSI for four seasons as Julie Finlay, followed by an arc as Madelyn Stillwell on The Boys. Shue made a guest appearance in the third season of Cobra Kai.
Randee Heller (Lucille LaRusso)
Randee Heller, who played Daniel's mother, actually began her career on Broadway. After Karate Kid, however, she landed multiple guest roles on popular television shows like Who's the Boss?, Felicity, ER, Nip/Tuck, and Mad Men, for which she earned an Emmy nomination (check out EW's interview with Heller on her Mad Men stint here).
She also appeared in 2017's A Crooked Somebody alongside Ed Harris and Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt. Heller has popped up in multiple seasons of Cobra Kai.
William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence)
Though he had no previous martial arts experience before his breakout role as Johnny Lawrence, Zabka actually went on to earn a green belt in Tang Soo Do after filming. Since then, he's tried his hand at directing music videos like No More Kings' "Sweep the Leg" and Rascal Flatts' "Why Wait."
Fans also caught Zabka as a recurring guest star on How I Met Your Mother as Barney Stinson's (Neil Patrick Harris) hero — appearing in an episode alongside Macchio. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for Best Live Action Short Film for Most, a Czech short he co-wrote and co-produced. Who woulda thought?
Martin Kove (Kreese)
As head instructor of Cobra Kai, Martin Kove had quite the memorable turn, reprising his role in the two sequels. Since then, he's beefed up his résumé with appearances in action-thriller projects, and reprised his role as Kreese on Tosh.0.
Kove competed on the 30th season of Dancing With the Stars in 2021, though his run wasn't as successful as Macchio's, becoming the first celebrity eliminated. After a season 1 guest appearance on Cobra Kai, Kove became a main cast member on the series.