Why Elisabeth Shue Decided to Return to the ‘Karate Kid’ Franchise

Elisabeth Shue Jokes About Cobra Kai Season 9 & Ali Mills


Elisabeth Shue is photographed at the Battle of the Sexes Los Angeles Premiere in 2017.

In the 1984 martial arts film “The Karate Kid,” Elisabeth Shue portrayed the character, Ali Mills. The West Valley High School student unintentionally starts Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence’s (William “Billy” Zabka) long-standing rivalry. As fans are aware, she takes an immediate liking to Daniel, even though she had just broken up with Johnny weeks prior. Seemingly out of jealousy, the Cobra Kai student begins to violently bully Daniel, which eventually leads him to get karate lessons from Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). 

Even though Ali plays such a significant role in the first film of the martial arts franchise, she is not featured in any of the sequels. Daniel only briefly mentions the character in “The Karate Kid Part II” when he explains to Mr. Miyagi that they had broken up. According to Ralph Macchio, Shue seemed to have an issue with how her character was written off. In a 2019 interview with the Collider Podcast, the actor revealed that they briefly spoke about the “Karate Kid” sequel after running into each other at the 1986 World Series.

“I saw her and I walked up and she was questioning not directly to me but she asked me why they did that to her character,” said Macchio. 

Elisabeth Shue Revealed Why She Decided To Play Ali in “Cobra Kai”

Elisabeth ShueElisabeth Shue

Getty Elisabeth Shue strikes a pose in a black dress at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Shue, however, did make an appearance during the third season of “Cobra Kai.” In a behind-the-scenes interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actress revealed why she decided to return to the “Karate Kid” franchise. She explained that she was “just really excited to see” her former co-stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. She also noted that the creators of “Cobra Kai” Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald “were so excited for [her] to be on the show.”

The actress went on to say that she was encouraged to play Ali again when she was filming the pilot episode of the Amazon Prime series, “The Boys.” According to Shue, the director of the episode, Dan Trachtenberg, approached her and asked if she was planning on joining the cast of “Cobra Kai.” The actress said that she told him that she was “thinking about it.” 

“He goes, ‘you have to be you don’t understand.’ I was like, ‘what?’ [He said] ‘The Karate Kid’ it’s my favorite movie. You have to do it.’ I was like, ‘okay, okay.’ You know, sometimes you just forget how much this movie means to people and so just for him to remind me of that make me go ‘oh maybe I should really think about that seriously,’” explained Shue. 

Shue Shared Similar Information About Trachtenberg in a Separate Interview

Elisabeth ShueElisabeth Shue

Getty ImagesElisabeth Shue is photographed at the American Express Gala.

Shue shared similar information about her encounter with Trachtenberg while speaking to Entertainment Weekly in January. She told the publication that the director asserted “it would just be devastating” if she did not continue Ali’s storyline. 

“I was like, ‘Whoa – okay! It was just very sweet, and it made me think, Oh, I haven’t really investigated this,” said the 57-year-old. 

Shue noted that following her conversation with Trachtenberg, she met with Hurwitz, Heald, and Schlossberg to discuss appearing in the series. 

“[T]hey were so lovely and similar to Dan — super ‘Karate Kid’ fans. They really wanted to wait and have Ali come back [in season 3], primarily I guess because it’s a reunion season. I said, ‘I’ll do whatever you need,” recalled the actress. 

To see Shue as Ali, check out “Cobra Kai” season 3, available on Netflix.  

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