In the mid to late ’80s, few stars were as cool to teen audiences as Elizabeth Shue. She was in some of the most beloved films of the decade, including The Karate Kid, Adventures in Babysittingand the second and third Back to the Future movies. Known for being the ultimate girl-next-door during that time period, Shue challenged that image as her career went on. Today, she’s 58 years old, has a family of her own, and just returned to one of her most famous ’80s roles. Read on to learn more about her life today.
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Shue had almost graduated from Harvard when her burgeoning Hollywood career became too much to balance along with higher education. She actually had gotten her start in commercials but bigger roles were not far behind. The Karate Kid was only Shue’s second film credit.
After she made her mark on the ’80s, Shue didn’t slow down. Some of her most notable ’90s roles include soap dish, heart and souls, The Saintand Leaving Las Vegas, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. That movie, which she starred in opposite Nicholas Cagehelped audiences and casting directors to see Shue as more than the nice, wholesome girl she had played so often and be considered for more adult roles.
In 2000, Shue decided to return to Harvard to finish her degree in political science, as reported by The Harvard Crimson. In a 2005 interview, she expressed a desire to go back to school again someday. “I really still have a fantasy of getting my masters, maybe in a different subject that I would be interested in teaching one day,” she said. “I still have that interest and I can see myself doing it one day.”
In recent years, Shue has acted quite a bit on TV. She appeared in the first two seasons of the Amazon superhero series, Tea Boysin the 2021 Netflix series On the Vergeand is currently on the Showtime series Super Pumpedplaying the mother of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Thrilling fans in 2021, Shue made a surprise return to her Karate Kid character, Ali Mills, in the third season of the Netflix sequel series, Cobra-Kai.
“It was literally like a high school reunion; it felt like no time had passed. Like none at all,” she told Entertainment Weekly of working with co-stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka again. “We kept reminiscing and laughing, constantly reliving the first Karate Kid every minute between takes. Nonstop reminiscing about our experience and laughing about what a great movie it turned out to be.”
One of Shue’s three brothers is Andrew Shue, who got a taste of the business with uncredited roles in a few of his sister’s early movies. He came to fame himself when he scored a role on the ’90s nighttime soap Melrose Place, playing Billy Campbell. Andrew continued acting for a bit after that series ended but had other interests as well, playing pro soccer among them. His most recent credit is the 2007 movie Graceand now he’s arguably better known for being the co-founder of the nonprofit organization DoSomething and the social networking site Cafe Mom.
Shue has been married to filmmaker Davis Guggenheim since 1994, and the couple have one son, Miles Williamand two daughters, Agnes Charles and Stella Street. (Stella seems to be an artist, based on her Instagram.)
The actor doesn’t have his own social media and keeps his family life fairly private. She did share after her Cobra-Kai appearance was out in the world that her daughter Agnes is “obsessed” with the show.
“She just cackles through the whole thing,” she told Yahoo Entertainment. “She’s laughing, and then she’s on the Internet looking at all the TikToks of the different guys and she’s obsessed, and it has nothing to do with me being involved in it.”
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Her Karate Kid character isn’t the only part Shue has been keen to revisit. In 2021, she did an interview with Vulture about the legacy of Adventures in Babysittingrevealing all kinds of fun trivia—including that she dated Bradley Whitfordwho played her cheating boyfriend in the movie, in real life, and that she actually went to the Playboy mansion to shoot the photos of her character’s model doppelgänger.
She also commented on the staying power of the 1987 movie.
“I’m just amazed. I think the reason is because [director] Chris Columbus and [screenwriter] David Simkins and the producers created a narrative that is classic storytelling,” she explained. “They were also smart to give it an edge with a soul underneath. You don’t hear any pop songs in it—it’s Sam Cooke and the Crystals. That’s part of the film’s dynamic, and it’s very unique and necessary. I’m still grateful to be a part of it.”
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