One of the biggest surprises in the third season of Cobra Kai is the appearance of Elisabeth Shue, who played Ali Mills in The Karate Kid. But how did the production team of Cobra Kai get Shue to reprise her role as Ali? Jon Hurwitz, the co-creator and co-executive producer of Cobra Kai, talked about the process during a panel discussion with the cast members and co-creators called Paley Front Row Presented by Citi: Cobra Kai.
"It was we believed we were making a really great well-intentioned show," Hurwitz said. "We're proud of the work that we were all doing and we felt like we would have something really interesting for her to do. We had heard by that point that there was an open-mindedness at the very least on her end to considering it. And at that point it was really we felt confident that we were going to reintroduce her character in a way that was three-dimensional, that showed that her character had lived life and has some interesting things that she's going through while also it dovetailing with a time where it would be really valuable for both Johnny and Daniel's characters to be encountering her."
At the end of Season 2, fans thought that Shue would be appearing in the third season when the idea was teased after Ali sent Johnny (William Zabka) a message on Facebook. However, Shue was not locked into appearing in the series until moments before filming began.
"It'd come a little bit down to the wire in certain ways, but we wouldn't take no for an answer when it came to the studio getting nervous or whatever it was," Hurwitz said. "We'd never told them our backup plan. We did have one, but we never told them it. We made it like there was no option and they kind of had to do whatever it took to eventually make it happen. Because we thought it was important for the fans of the Karate Kid and fans of Cobra Kai to have that fulfilling experience of Ali with an I returning into this world."
Ali appeared in just one of the three Karate Kid films but played a big role in the entire story. The feud between Johnny and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) began because of Ali. In the Karate Kid, Daniel meets Ali, and they both are attracted to each other. But Johnny, who Ali dumped, isn't willing to let her go, leading to the battle between Daniel and Johnny, which has continued for over 35 years.