The Cast of “The Karate Kid”: Where Are They Now?

The Cast of “The Karate Kid”: Where Are They Now?

'The Karate Kid' skyrocketed Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita to fame in 1984

Wax on, wax off ...

In 1984, The Karate Kid premiered in theaters and became a smash hit, grossing $100 million at the box office and spawning two sequels during the ‘80s. Since then, it’s become a childhood staple and is rediscovered generation after generation.

In 1994, the franchise saw another sequel, The Next Karate Kid, which starred Hilary Swank as Mr. Miyagi’s newest protege, and in 2010 The Karate Kid was rebooted with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

Related: Ralph Macchio on His Friend and 'Karate Kid' Costar Pat Morita: His Legacy 'Shines Brighter Than Ever'

The franchise was revived again in 2018 with the series Cobra Kai. Speaking to Den of Geek, Cobra Kai’s showrunners said the series centered on what they called the “Miyagi-verse,” meaning that the events of The Karate Kid, Part II, Part III and The Next Karate Kid were all part of the show’s history, but the 2010 reboot was not.

Since Cobra Kai’s premiere, almost all of the original cast have reprised their roles, including Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Elisabeth Shue. Here’s what the cast have been up to since The Karate Kid.

Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso

Ralph Macchio played Daniel LaRusso, the new kid at his Los Angeles high school. After Daniel is bullied by his classmates, he is encouraged to take karate lessons to stand up for himself.

Before becoming the Karate Kid, Macchio was best known for playing Johnny Cade in The Outsiders (1983). He later went on to reprise his role as LaRusso in The Karate KidPart II (1986) and Part III (1989). He then scored another starring role in the hit comedy My Cousin Vinny (1992).

In 2018, Macchio reprised his role as Daniel in the Netflix series Cobra Kai.The series has been renewed for a sixth and final season.

Off-screen, Macchio has been married to Phyllis Fierro since 1987. The two met at a party when they were teenagers. In 2009, Fierro told PEOPLE, “The first time I saw these big, dark brown eyes, I felt a natural bond.”

Related: Ralph Macchio Responds to Criticism That 1984's 'Karate Kid' Cast Was 'Too White'

Together the couple have two children: a daughter, Julia, born in 1992, and a son, Daniel, born in 1996.

Julia is also an actress and had a role in season 4 of Cobra Kai, playing Daniel LaRusso’s cousin.

In 2022, Macchio told PEOPLE how proud he was watching her on set, saying: "She knocked it out of the park. I was the proud father on set that day. As soon as she ran our first take, everybody was like, 'Holy crap, she's got this character.' "

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita as Mr. Miyagi

Noriyuki “Pat” Morita played the iconic role of Mr. Miyagi, a maintenance worker in the LaRussos’ new apartment building. But Mr. Miyagi also has a secret — he’s a karate expert.

Before The Karate Kid, Morita was already recognizable for his portrayal of Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days (1975–1983).

The Karate Kid, however, was the actor’s career-defining role. Morita was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his performance as Miyagi. He reprised his role as Mr. Miyagi in both Karate Kid sequels in 1986 and 1989, as well as the fourth film, The Next Karate Kid (1994), starring alongside Hilary Swank in her first major role.

After his time in The Karate Kid franchise, Morita starred in the Nickelodeon series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo(1996–1998) as Mike Woo, Shelby’s grandpa. The show was groundbreaking as it marked the first Nickelodeon series featuring an Asian lead.

Off-screen, he was married to actress Evelyn Guerrero from 1994 until his death in 2005. The actor died of kidney failure at the age of 73.

But his legacy and memory continue to live on, even on Cobra Kai. In 2022, Macchio wrote a guest essay for PEOPLE honoring Morita’s legacy as Mr. Miyagi. “The legacy of your work and contribution to the world in your portrayal of Mr. Miyagi shines brighter than ever,” Macchio wrote to his late costar. “He lives and breathes in a new chapter of the Karate Kid universe.”

William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence

William Zabka played Johnny Lawrence, a bully who beats up Daniel and later becomes his adversary in the karate tournament.

After starring inThe Karate Kid,Zabka landed roles in films like National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985) and Back to School (1986). He also returned for TheKarate Kid Part II. Throughout the early 2000s, Zabka became a regular on Syfy (then called the Sci-Fi Channel) and starred in many of their made-for-TV movies like Python (2000), Python 2 (2002) and Antibody (2002).

In 2018, he reprised his role as Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai. In the series, Johnny and Daniel eventually end their rivalry, a change Zabka felt thankful for.

In a 2021 interview with PEOPLE, he said: “For years I had dads dragging their kids over to meet me just to point out the biggest bully on the planet. … To have people rooting for my character, for me to feel that, is something I've never experienced. It's remarkable.”

In his personal life, Zabka has been married to his wife Stacie since 2008 and has raised three children.

Elisabeth Shue as Ali Mills

Elisabeth Shue played Ali Mills, Daniel’s crush and Johnny’s ex-girlfriend.

A few years after The Karate Kid, Shue starred in the cult hit Adventures in Babysitting (1987), which got a Disney Channel remake in 2016.

Shue continued to land massive roles, starring in Cocktail (1988) and Back to the Future Part II (1989) and III (1990). She earned a nomination for Best Actress at the 68th Academy Awards for her role in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). Her last major role before taking a break was in Hollow Man (2000) opposite Kevin Bacon.

After that film, Shue went back to Harvard to complete her degree in political science — she had withdrawn in 1989 to focus on acting full-time, per the Harvard Crimson.

In a 2005 interview with PEOPLE, she recalled being on campus at the same time as Natalie Portman, who by then had already starred in the Star Wars prequels. “It was cool that she was there at the same time,” Shue said. “I think that it also helped my anonymity because there was already someone there who was already much more famous on the campus.”

Shue returned to acting in the 2010s and has had leading roles on numerous shows, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2012–2015), The Boys (2019–2020) and the anthology series Super Pumped (2022). Shue even reprised her role as Ali Mills for a cameo in season 3 of Cobra Kai in 2021.

In 1994, Shue married filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who is known for An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and, more recently, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie (2023). Together the couple have three children.

Shue recently starred in the dramedy The Good Half, which premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her costars include Nick Jonas, Brittany Snow and David Arquette.

Martin Kove as John Kreese

Martin Kove played John Kreese, Johnny’s karate mentor who encourages his students to play dirty and harass Daniel.

Kove reprised his role in The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and Part III (1989), and after appearing in the season 1 finale of Cobra Kai, Kove joined the main cast on Netflix.

Outside of the Karate Kid franchise, Kove had a starring role on the hit series Cagney & Lacey (1982–1988) and appeared in movies like Wyatt Earp (1994) and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019). In 2021, he competed on season 30 of Dancing with the Stars, though he was the first to be eliminated.

According to Deadline, Kove’s next film will be Fight Another Day, a dystopian film about a cop who is sent to the future and forced into a deadly fighting competition. Joining Kove in the cast are Jim Belushi and Christina Ochoa.

Randee Heller as Lucille LaRusso

Randee Heller played Lucille LaRusso, Daniel’s hardworking single mom adapting to California.

Before joining the cast of The Karate Kid, Heller had already made entertainment history when she held a recurring role as Alice on Soap (1979), becoming the first openly lesbian character on broadcast television.

After skipping The Karate KidPart II, Heller returned forPart IIIin 1989. Since then, she’s had a busy television career, with recurring roles in series like Who’s the Boss (1989–1990), Mad Men (2010), Wilfred (2013–2014) and Cobra Kai. Heller’s role on Mad Men earned her an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a drama series thanks to her scene-stealing performance as secretary Ida Blankenship.

She most recently starred in the heist comedy Murder at Hollow Creek, in which she appears alongside Casper Van Dien, Mickey Rourke and Penelope Ann Miller.

Chad McQueen as Dutch

Chad McQueen played Dutch, an aggressive Cobra Kai student who is part of Johnny’s crew.

The Karate Kid is McQueen’s best-known project. Aside from that, he has starred in low-budget and straight-to-video films like Death Ring (1992), Firepower (1993) and The Fall (2001), which was his final acting credit. He left entertainment to pursue sports car racing in the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2006, he experienced a near-fatal crash while training for the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race. McQueen recovered from his injuries and later founded his own company, McQueen Racing, which builds custom high-performance cars.

McQueen is the son of racing and acting legend Steve McQueen and actress Neile Adams. From 1987 to 1990, he was married to Stacia Toten and together they had one child, actor Steven R. McQueen, best known for playing Jeremy Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries. In 1993, McQueen married Jeanie Galbraith and they had two children, Chase and Madison.

Tony O’Dell as Jimmy

Tony O’Dell played Jimmy, another Cobra Kai student and a good friend of Johnny.

The Karate Kid was O’Dell’s first major role. In 1986, he returned for Part II and that same year he began starring as Alan Pinkard on the hit series Head of the Class (1986–1991).In 2019, he reprised his role as Jimmy on Cobra Kai.

On top of being an actor, O’Dell has had a long career behind the camera working as an acting and dialogue coach on The George LopezShow (2002–2007) and Girl Meets World (2014–2015). He also worked with Zendaya on her Disney Channel shows Shake It Up (2010–2013) and K.C. Undercover (2015–2017).

Speaking to the Cobra Kai Kompanion podcast in 2021, O’Dell talked about watching Zendaya’s career flourish over the last few years. “Everything that everybody sees is really truly who she is,” he said. “There’s something about her that’s so incredibly special.”

Rob Garrison as Tommy

Rob Garrison played Tommy, a friend of Johnny and a Cobra Kai student.

After The Karate Kid, Garrison starred in Iron Eagle (1986) and The Karate Kid Part II (1986). In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he continued making appearances on shows like MacGyver (1987) and Coach (1990) before retiring from acting.

Later in his life, Garrison had health issues but was able to guest star in an episode of Cobra Kai in 2019. Later that year, he died at the age of 59 from liver and kidney failure.

Related: See Every Actor from 'The Karate Kid' Who Reprises Their Role on 'Cobra Kai'

Macchio honored his late costar, telling PEOPLE: “Rob Garrison was a kind gentleman from the first day I met him to the last day we spoke. I am so glad he had the opportunity to show his range and genuine heart with his performance last season on Cobra Kai.”

In 2021, the premiere of Cobra Kai’s third season included a tribute to Garrison. The episode ended with the words “Rob Garrison 1960–2019” and “Cobra Kai never dies.”

Ron Thomas as Bobby Brown

Ron Thomas played Bobby Brown, a Cobra Kai student who is instructed to injure Daniel with an illegal move that ultimately gets him kicked out of the competition.

Thomas returned for The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and had a minor role in The Big Bet (1987) before retiring from acting. In 2019, he reprised his role as Bobby Brown on an episode of Cobra Kai.

According to his website, Thomas is a martial artist and offers motivational speeches and online classes about mindfulness as Sensei Ron Thomas.

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