The Huntington, N.Y.-born Macchio was already 21 and well out of high school when he made "The Karate Kid." He'd earned some fame in the pivotal role of tragic greaser Johnny in 1983's "The Outsiders," but his lead role in "Karate Kid" made him a household name. In addition to the second and third "Karate Kid" movies, Macchio went on to star in the films "Crossroads" and "My Cousin Vinny." Over the past 20 years, however, Macchio has gotten the most mileage out of playing himself, in memorable episodes of "Entourage" and "How I Met Your Mother." He briefly returned to the big screen with a small role in 2012's "Hitchcock" as "Psycho" scribe Joseph Stefano. Now 52, he's due back in theaters this year in the feature "A Little Game."
Shue, who grew up in South Orange, N.J., had been working in TV commercials when she made her movie debut at 20 in "The Karate Kid" as Ali, Daniel's love interest. She became a popular young female lead in films for the rest of the decade, including "Adventures in Babysitting," "Cocktail," and the two "Back to the Future" sequels. In the 1990s, she continued to play ingénue parts in such films as "The Marrying Man" and "Soapdish," but she blew viewers away by playing against type in 1995's "Leaving Las Vegas," where she played a wrenching role as the prostitute who falls for a self-destructive Nicolas Cage, earning herself an Oscar nomination in the process. Since then, her roles have been more varied, from standard love-interest fare ("The Saint") to offbeat dramatic parts ("Cousin Bette," "Molly") to thriller heroines ("Hollow Man," "Hide and Seek," "Piranha 3D"). In 2007, she produced and co-starred in the autobiographical sports drama "Gracie," in which she played a character based on her own mother; the film was directed by her husband, Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth"). For the past couple years, Shue has been a regular on TV"s long-running "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Now 50, she is due to return to films this fall alongside Selena Gomez in the comedy "Behaving Badly."
New York City-born Billy Zabka was 18 when he made his screen debut as Johnny, Ali's ex-boyfriend and the leader of the Cobra Kai gang that harasses Daniel in "The Karate Kid." Thereafter, he seemed typecast as school bullies, in such comedies as "Just One of the Guys" and "Back to School." After appearing in a variety of low-budget action thrillers, Zabka turned to directing. His 2003 short "Most" earned an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. He also directed a variety of parodic music videos, including Rascal Flatts' "Why Wait" and No More Kings' "Sweep the Leg" (in which Zabka also appeared, paying homage to his "Karate Kid" role and reuniting with co-stars Macchio and Martin Kove). In fact, Zabka has spent a lot of time in recent years sending up his old roles, including making a cameo in "Hot Tub Time Machine" and playing himself on several episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" (in which Neil Patrick Harris' Barney sees Zabka as a role model). The 48-year-old's most recent feature film is another inspirational sports drama, "Produce," which has been playing at film festivals this spring.
Brooklyn native Kove spent a decade in action roles on film and TV before landing at 36 the career-defining role in "Karate Kid" as John Kreese, the sneering Cobra Kai sensei whose dojo is a studio for a dirtier, more brutal form of martial arts than the spiritually enlightened karate that Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel. In addition to reprising his role in the first two "Karate Kid" sequels, Kove continued to play hard-nosed men of action in such films as "Rambo: First Blood Part II," "Steele Justice," and Kevin Costner's "Wyatt Earp." Having spoofed his "Karate Kid" role in the Billy Zabka-directed music video for No More Kings' "Sweep the Leg," the 67-year-old Kove is due back on screen this year in "The Extendables," a parody of certain recent movies by certain aging action stars.
Like Kove, Heller was a 36-year-old actor from Brooklyn when she landed the biggest movie role of her career in "The Karate Kid," playing Daniel's fiercely loving single mother. Before that, she was best known for her role as Alice on "Soap," TV's first recurring openly lesbian character. As Lucille LaRusso, Heller appeared in the first and third "Karate Kid" films. Besides small roles in such films as "Bulworth" and "Monster-in-Law," Heller has appeared in guest roles on numerous TV series, including recurring roles on "Fame," "Midnight Caller," "Popular," "Judging Amy," and "In Plain Sight." She enjoyed renewed fame in 2010 with her recurring role on "Mad Men" as ancient, wisecracking secretary Miss Blankenship, a performance that earned her an Emmy nomination. Now 67, Heller most recently acted in a 2013 guest spot on ABC's "Modern Family."
At the time of "The Karate Kid"'s release, TV audiences already knew California-bred comedian Morita, then 52, for his recurring role as malt shop owner Arnold on "Happy Days." He was not known for drama, but the role of Daniel's mentor earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as return visits to the role in three sequels. Over the next two decades, he remained in demand and appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows – most memorably, "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Mulan," and "The Center of the World." He died of kidney failure in 2005 at age 73, but he had done so much voiceover work that his last projects (including an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants") continued to trickle out for another six years.