Ralph Macchio Shares Elisabeth Shue Regrets

Ralph Macchio wishes he’d done more to protest the removal of his onscreen girlfriend, played by Elisabeth Shue, from the Karate Kid franchise, he says in a new interview.

In the original 1984 Karate Kid, Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso is the new kid in the San Fernando Valley, who manages to catch the eye of the popular Ali Mills, played by Elisabeth Shue. Her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), becomes LauRusso’s fierce rival — a relationship that picks up decades later on the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai.  Despite Daniel and Ali’s whirlwind teen romance in the first film, something happens to break them up between Karate Kid and Karate Kid II, and LaRusso very briefly mentions the breakup to explain why one of the main characters from the film is no longer around. Soon, Daniel is off to Okinawa with his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), and Daniel-san finds a new love interest, Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita).

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In an interview with The Guardian to promote his new memoir, called, hilariously, Waxing On, Macchio says that he wished he’d thought more about Shue’s exit.

“I never looked at it from the perspective of Ali’s character or from the perspective of Elisabeth as an actor,” he said. “As an older person, there was a recognition of missteps, of things I should have done differently.”

He also said he regrets not calling Shue at the time, to see how she felt, or going to the producers to object to her removal. “I dunno. They probably would have said to me, ‘Get outside, Macchio, and start practicing your karate kicks,’” he added. “Today, I think, there would be a different conversation.”

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Back in the 19080s, he notes. “Women in movies were often thought to be disposable. I see that now. Then? I didn’t see it. It was a case of youth being wasted on the young. I was swept up in everything that was happening in my life.”

So why did she leave? The Guardian says that the Karate Kid producers hoped Daniel LaRusso would be a James Bond type, with a rotating cast of romantic leads.

Fortunately, things worked out pretty fantastically for Elisabeth Shue: She went on to star in Adventures in Babysitting, Cocktail, Back to the Future II and III, Soapdish, and other projects before earning an Oscar nomination for her incredible performance in Leaving Las Vegas as a sex worker named Sera who falls for the self-destructive Ben (Nicolas Cage). She then went on to films like The Saint, Hollow Man, and Battle of the Sexes, before starring in the first season of Amazon’s The Boys and then returning to the Karate Kid world with an extended guest shot on Cobra Kai.

Main image: Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue in The Karate Kid.