What the Hell Happened to Elisabeth Shue?

'Gracie' Press Conference

Elisabeth Shue was the girl friend to the Karate Kid and Marty McFly.  She had babysitting adventures and cocktails with Tom Cruise.  In the 90s, she was an Academy Award nominee for Leaving Las Vegas, but then she disappeared from the spotlight until recently.

What the hell happened?

Shue got her start doing commercials.  Here she is in a 1982 Burger King commercial which also features Lea Thompson and little Sarah Michelle Gellar.

By 1983, Shue was shilling Whoppers solo.

Shue also appeared in the low budget ghost story, Somehwere Tomorrow.  Sarah Jessica Parker starred.  Shue’s role was a small one and she was credited as Lisa Shue.

shue - call to glory

In 1984, Shue landed a regular role on the TV show Call to Glory starring Craig T Nelson as an air force pilot in the 1960s.  The family drama was inspired by the success of Top Gun and based loosely on The Right Stuff.  However, the show was cancelled after the first season due to low ratings.

Shue considered the show the perfect introduction to show biz:

“I was lucky I started out on television on a show that got cancelled at the end of the year. I had a great character, I played a total tomboy. I was so fortunate that that was my first real experience, because I was very, very naïve; I did not know much about the world at that time, and I could have gotten lost, you know, in some other zone of reality.”

shue - karate kid

That same year, Shue starred opposite Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Karate Kid.

The Karate Kid is basically Rocky  for the teenage set.  This is not surprising given that it was directed by Rocky director, John Avildsen.

As a 13-year-old, The Karate Kid was irresistible to me.  I loved the story of an underdog roughly my own age who not only beat the odds but got the girl.  I was instantly smitten with Shue’s fresh-faced California cheerleader.  In my opinion, Daniel-san was playing way out of his league.  I nearly signed up for karate classes as soon as I left the theater.

The Karate Kid was a surprise hit that summer.  Three sequels and a remake followed.  But Shue doesn’t appear in any of them, so we will speak of them no more.

Next: Adventures in Babysitting and Cocktail


Posted on March 23, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 206 Comments.

  1. Elisabeth Shue joins Fox baseball pilot Pitch

    The CSI vet will play the personal guru and protector for the first female player in Major League Baseball.


  2. Embarrassing award-bait performances by actors as SPECIALS

    Rosie O’Donnell in “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” of course, but what about:

    Sean Penn in “I Am Sam”

    Elisabeth Shue in “Molly”

    Shaun Cassidy and Linda Purl in “Like Normal People”

    —Anonymous (263 views)

    31 replies 29 11 hours ago


  3. James. Barwick 803 476 7855

    Would love to meet you. Enjoyed , loved your movies


  4. 8 ‘90s Heartthrobs Who Don’t Act Anymore

    Andrew Shue

    Andrew Shue was a really big deal in the ‘90s when he starred as Billy Campbell in Melrose Place. Since the series has ended, he has barely acted. He was in Gracie and Goal! III and that’s it. According to him, he realized that he didn’t want to be an actor anymore. Now, he’s an entrepreneur. He co-founded the teen volunteer website Do Something and the social networking website CafeMom with his childhood best friend.


  5. Elisabeth Shue Joins ‘Battle of the Sexes’

    Oscar-nominated actress Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) has just joined the cast of Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes, according to Variety.

    Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind Little Miss Sunshine, are co-directing from a script by Simon Beaufoy (Everest, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). The story captures the epic male vs female tennis exhibition match-up of 1973 between Bobby Riggs (to be played by Steve Carrell) and Billie Jean King (to be played by Emma Stone). The face-off drew a crowd of 50 million. Shue will play Riggs’ wife. Andrea Riseborough (Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) – who co-starred with Stone in Birdman – will play Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser and former lover. Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies) is also in the cast. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is attached to produce under his Decibel Films alongside Christian Colson and his Cloud Eight banner.

    Shue did a 3-year run on TV’s CSI:Crime Scene Investigation from 2012-2015, and also recently starred in House at the End of the Street, Hope Springs and Chasing Mavericks.

    Battle of the Sexes is one of three projects revolving around the Riggs-King tennis feud. HBO/Playtone have an untitled project with Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton) and Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect) announced to play Riggs and King while Match Maker has Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home) playing Riggs with Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness) attached to write. It will be a battle to see which of the three projects makes it to the finish line first.


    • Actors/Actresses Who Were Once Big/Almost Big But Now Have Seemingly Vanished

      The first one that comes to mind is Elizabeth Shue, She was in several hugely popular movies from the 80’s and 90’s but has pretty much disappeared except for a few brief TV gigs.


      reply 1 7 hours ago

      I recall reading that Shue had been attending Harvard with in a year or two of Leaving Los Vegas. It sounded like she took time off to attend school right around the time her career peaked. I thought it was an extremely odd choice. I also recall reading that she was first choice for the lead in the Good Wife but turned it down. Then she wound up doing CSI at the end of the run.


      reply 7 7 hours ago

      Shue gave an interview years ago where she made fun of Ralph Macchio and pretty much called him a loser, she came off like a real bitch.


      reply 9 6 hours ago

      Shue replaced Marg Helgeburger in the last three seasons of CSI. There are worse fates, but it’s not a very prestiges to be on an old show limping along. She might have had an Emmy and a cosmetics contract if she said yes to the Good Wife.


      reply 23 6 hours ago

      I think its fab that Shue returned to Harvard to finish her B.A. She was only a semester short when she dropped out. And returned 10 years later and it took her 2-3 years – she must have been part time as an adult. Her husband directed An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim). The whole family seems to be very progressive “limousine liberals”.


      reply 28 6 hours ago


      • Actors/Actresses Who Were Once Big/Almost Big But Now Have Seemingly Vanished

        To be fair that could also be Shue’s problem as well, she comes off as really mean in some interviews she’s given.


        reply 4 Yesterday at 2:10 PM

        Elisabeth Shue started Harvard in the early 80’s and dropped out to work as an actress, but went back in the late 90’s and finished her degree. She didn’t make very interesting choices after Leaving Las Vegas, and could’ve done better if she had gone for smaller character parts then trying to launch herself as a leading lady after an Oscar nom.


        reply 225 5 hours ago

        [R1] Elisabeth Shue was on CSI 2012-15. Don’t think she has totally disappeared – in fact that was a good gig for an “older’ woman as we all know it’s much harder for 35+ actresses to get jobs.


        reply 241 4 minutes ago


      • Elisabeth Shue joining “CSI” was a good idea in theory. “CSI” at its peak, was literally, the top rated TV show in America. Unfortunately, by the time that she joined, “CSI” (the franchise as a whole for that matter) was well past its sell date. It was really in hindsight, a stop-gap for Elisabeth Shue’s career (it kind of came off as she needed “CSI” more than the other way around) than something to really build off of. To add insult to injury, she wasn’t even involved in the series finale.


      • I never heard that much about Elisabeth Shue coming across as decidedly “bitchy” or mean-spirited (in contrast to her otherwise “good girl” image on screen) in interviews, and thus that’s in part why her career went into decline. I’m admittedly in the dark about her off-set relationship with Ralph Macchio while making “The Karate Kid”. For some reason, I got the vibe that Elisabeth after she “made it big” so to speak (around the time that she did “Leaving Las Vegas”), was quite embarrassed by her association/continued recognition from that movie.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe with Elizabeth Shue it wasn’t embarrassment, but that, at that point, she had moved on with her career and outgrew that role, so she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s kind of like how everyday people outgrown things (sometimes they come back to it, sometimes they don’t) and just see certain things as being a phase in their life.


        • The funny thing is that “The Karate Kid” if you ask me, is one of the top three “definitive” Elisabeth Shue movies. The other two are “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Leaving Las Vegas”. The “Back to the Future” sequels are close behind, but they weren’t exactly extremely dependent on her and she wouldn’t have been in those movies to begin with that the original Jennifer Parker, Claudia Wells not dropped out of Hollywood to take care of her sick mother.


        • I definitely agree that “The Karate Kid”, along with the other two films mentioned, are the definitive Elizabeth Shue films most anyone who’s seen her work would automatically associate her with; I know I do. As the “Back to the Future” deal with her, I’m a little lukewarm on the sequel, so that film isn’t one that I think of often ,and I felt her role in Part 3 was pretty small.
          Again though, I have a feeling a performer can get fatigued from the same films from their oeuvre, especially when they get asked to “say that line from…!”, “hey, you the ___from that movie ____”, and maybe Shue felt the same way about “The Karate Kid” after awhile. Personally, I think it’s a very good film and nothing to be ashamed of, but then I wasn’t ever constantly reminded of it either.


  6. Infamous Sphere: Mysterious Skin (2004)


  7. This is a fantastic collection of Elisabeth Shue, which helps me to research about the actress.


    • Elisabeth Shue

      Elisabeth Shue began her career as one of the most popular teenage actresses of the ’80s, landing parts in The Karate Kid and Adventures In Babysitting. Then she spent much of the early ’90s bouncing from role to role in films that didn’t hit such successful heights. In 1995, though, she rode the part of prostitute Sera to an Oscar nomination for Leaving Las Vegas, and she’s worked steadily in a combination of big studio and independent films ever since. Her next project is Piranha 3D, an update of the ’80s B-movie creature-feature where she plays the sheriff of a small town with a sudden infestation of killer fish. Shue sat down at San Diego Comic Con International with The A.V. Club to discuss her long career, what it’s like playing the authority figure in a monster movie, and how being an Oscar-nominated actor doesn’t open every door.


  8. Elisabeth Shue joins Bruce Willis in director Eli Roth’s remake of Death Wish:


    • What Is Everyone Involved With the Violent ‘Death Wish’ Remake Thinking?

      Eli Roth and the rest of the filmmakers behind the remake of Death Wish must have been trying to start a controversy with the movie, right? The trailer for the Bruce Willis-led take on the original novel came out on Thursday, and it’s a tonal mess that’s already sparked confusions, criticism, and, sigh, praise.

      Much like the original 1972 book and 1974 film starring Charles Bronson, the remake focuses on a man who takes the law into his own hands, becoming a vigilante out for deadly, warped justice following the murder of his family. But, at first glance, it seems like the new movie is making the same mistake the ‘74 film did in making vigilantism seem cool and just, whereas the original book denounced it.

      Willis, who is first described in the trailer as “a white dude,” buys a gun in Chicago, which is no small feat, and then proceeds to become a folk hero of sorts as he murders his way through the Chicago underworld. After he crushes a criminal with a car, AC/DC’s “Black in Black” starts blaring. It’s celebratory, and perhaps just a hair uncomfortably on-the-nose.

      Early responses on the trailer’s YouTube page weren’t kind.

      “This trailer might have the worst identity crisis I’ve ever seen,” one user wrote. “It starts serious, and makes you think it might be some kind of vigilante drama, but then out of nowhere AC/DC kicks in and I’m like, so… is it now just an action film?”

      “This is fucked up,” another commented. “The book is called Death Wish for a reason – it’s a deconstruction and analysis of vigilantism, not a celebration of them, like this seems to be. The tone of this is way too peppy and ‘bright’, for lack of a better word.”

      The concept behind the film, that gun violence is the answer to gun violence, provided it’s a good guy (or “white dude”) with a gun, is a delicate argument in a best case scenario. AC/DC are many things, but they’re not delicate. Given the current cultural climate, and how many times President Donald Trump opines in the broadest strokes about gun violence in Chicago, is this really the type of movie we all need right now?

      But, hey, maybe that’s the whole point.

      “Another film to make the snowflakes melt,” a third YouTube user wrote. “I love it already.”


      • So Many Thoughts About This Unnecessary ‘Death Wish’ Remake With Bruce Willis …

        MGM just released the trailer for Eli Roth’s “reimagining” of the Charles Bronson franchise-starter Death Wish. I haven’t seen the original films, so I can’t comment directly on their, uh, quality, but the basic premise seems to carry through to the 2017 remake mostly intact. A man becomes a murderous vigilante after his wife and daughter are viciously attacked in their home. He hits the streets hunting for their assailants and killing other criminals along the way. I have been told that Jeff Goldblum shows up in the first film, in what was his first acting performance… as a rapist/murderer. So there’s that?
        Before we go any further, here’s the trailer for the new one starring Bruce Willis:

        When I first watched it, I didn’t realize it was a remake. I didn’t even realize it was directed by Eli Roth until his name popped up. All I could see was a white man in a hoodie being hailed as a folk hero for killing people (in Chicago of all places). Now, I’m not stupid. That is clearly a conscious choice to push buttons. And maybe the film will succeed in making some nuanced social commentary of some sort. But right now it just feels unnecessarily inflammatory at best, and at worst it sends the message that an armed white man in a hoodie is a savior, while we know that unarmed black men in hoodies are being killed IN REAL LIFE for no crimes whatsoever.

        The use of AC/DC’s “Back In Black” in the trailer doesn’t help, obviously. And not just because putting that song into action/thriller trailers has become a tired cliché.

        Even if there is a point to this, and even if the film does have some semblance of social commentary baked in — do we trust Eli Roth to convey it? I know he has fans, and I know that generally I am just not the right audience for his stuff, but from what I can tell, the man is about as subtle as a brick in the head. Feel free to explain to me why I’m wrong. I can take it.

        The film clearly is aware of the racial buttons it’s jabbing, because it makes a point to show that the home invaders (who apparently murder Willis’ wife and rape his daughter, if this film follows the original in that regard) are white men. And a lot of the people Willis goes after are white men. But not all of them. Sure, he goes after a group of black guys to avenge an injured black boy he met in the hospital, but that leads us into some icky “white savior” territory (there is also that pointed shot of a black woman in the back of an ambulance claiming that he saved her life). That’s a whole lot to pack into a single 2-minute trailer. And there’s still room for a ha ha funny at the end as Willis talks to his therapist, who tells him to keep doing whatever he’s doing because it seems to be working. Hahaha. Ha. Ha. Vigilantism is great for mental health!

        And I’m not even going to touch the whole “dead wife and maybe raped daughter” bit as motivation. It was in the original, and I’m sure they could have changed it, but they didn’t. That’s a whole other rant about using women as props to propel heroes, but I’m just not surprised. I’m… tired.

        And even setting aside the issue of social commentary, the fact that Bruce Willis is playing a vigilante hero recalls another film of his: Unbreakable. But whereas that was playing with the tropes of the superhero genre, this is a whole other bag. It’s probably not fair to compare them, but it’s almost impossible not to simply because it’s Bruce Willis.
        So I dunno. Maybe it’s silly to get so worked up over a trailer without being able to see the full film (which comes out in November). But it feels like, in this case at least, they are TRYING to get people worked up. I hope I’m wrong. I hope it surprises us.
        The film also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Elizabeth Shue, Dean Norris, and Mike Epps.


  9. Well, I haven’t viewed “The Saint” since 1997, when a friend rented it (even then, I fell asleep during the second half, just as I did on “The Devil’s Own” that same year), but it was on FOX earlier and I was fed up with College Football, so I finally caught the second half. I don’t know, it’s alright I guess, but I think the whole thing kind of meanders. I think both Val Kilmer (being snarky and cagey, which is kind of his thing) & Elisabeth Shue (she’s so warm; I guess that’s the one word I would use to describe an onscreen Elisabeth Shue) are good and have great chemistry, the scenery is nice, and I like the disguises, but the film still doesn’t do it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Somebody on IMDb recently told me that they feel that think if they had to find a turning point it was the film “Molly”. The critical and commercial failure of the film probably hampered Elisabeth Shue’s momentum. It was four years after “Leaving Las Vegas”, but one reviewer suggested the film would hurt Shue’s future chances of being casted in future dramatic roles with substance.


    • I can understand that point of view, and “Molly” was not well-received at all. I viewed it a few years ago and thought it was okay (that film and “The Other Sister” came out the same year; different conditions with the characters, but both share in being disappointments), but the whole time I was watching it I thought, “Yeah, this film was a bust”.


      • I’m not sure if I’ve already said this but “Molly” may have been to Elisabeth Shue what “Radio” was to Cuba Gooding, Jr. What I mean is that they played a mentally challenged/impaired person as a means of creating “Oscar bait” but it wound up being what the film “Tropic Thunder” talked about regarding how you shouldn’t go “full the R-word”!

        Liked by 1 person

      • ERIC’S BAD MOVIES: MOLLY (1999)

        After being nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Leaving Las Vegas, Elisabeth Shue called her agent and said, “Now is the time for me to play a mentally handicapped woman who falls in love with her brother.” This was a taller order than you might expect. Hollywood was brimming with unproduced screenplays about mentally handicapped people, and incest scripts are always in fashion, of course. But they didn’t overlap. None of the mentally handicapped screenplays had incest, and none of the incest screenplays had mentally handicapped people. Elisabeth Shue had to wait a few years, until finally some scribe dipped his incest chocolate in the mentally handicapped peanut butter and came up with Molly.

        This miraculously ill-conceived debacle was released in 1999 to a flurry of apathy and a box-office gross of $17,650. (Really!) Shue plays the title character, a 28-year-old woman who has lived in an institution since the death of her parents some years earlier. Molly is described by her doctor as being “mentally retarded” (his words!) with some autistic tendencies and a hint of savant — basically, whatever the movie needs her to be at any given moment. Shue’s idea of playing “mentally challenged” is to speak in the sort of slurry simpleton’s voice that has been getting elementary-school class clowns in trouble for generations. It’s OK here, though, because Shue isn’t making fun of anyone. She’s ACTING!


  11. Episode 267 – Hollow Man

    On this week’s episode, the gang puts on their heat vision goggles to spy on Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man! What’s with all this Nobel Prize talk? How does being invisible make him as strong as Jason Voorhees? And is that scientist looking at pornography at work? PLUS: Meeeeeeeeeeeeme watch!

    Hollow Man stars Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, William Devane, and Rhona Mitra; directed by Paul Verhoeven.


  12. The smile Elisabeth Shue had on Karate Kid was so happy and full of joy! Karate Kid would have been an even greater franchise if Shue had accepted to participate in the sequel. Most of the fans were disappointed when she simply vanished. The Karate Kid brand and niche fan base were conquered by the story of a struggled son and mother that moved from NJ to California, the boy did not adapt to the new reality but found on Shue a point of support and later on Morita a point of reference and guidance. I don’t know why Shue did not accept to participate in the Karate Kid II and III the excuse of “going back to Harvard” is difficult to understand … I think that the Producer, Director or her Manager should had re-approached the situation and had told her that Karate Kid as a brand meant “Ralph, Pat and Shue” based on worldwide acceptance, she simply “vanished from the sequel”, the song “Glory of Love” on KD II was set for her and Ralph as many blogs pointed out. Karate Kid could have been a landmark for the 80’s if she had been on them. Karate Kid II was a success worldwide because the audience was interested in the continuation of the 3: “Ralph, Elisabeth and Pat”, it did not happen. Karate Kid III did not finish the franchise well. I think Hollywood missed a big chance not understand their own brand and letting Shue go. Screenwriter Robert kamen did an amazing job writing Karate Kid in the early 80’s… the success that would have come with the story of Pat, Ralph and Shue on all the sequels would had marked that era.


  13. I forgot to mention that for the 30th anniversary of Karate Kid, fans worldwide wanted Robert Kanem and John Avildsen to make a final KD with Ralph and Shue as a tribute to Pat Morita and as a message anti bullying, highlighting friendship, respect and love.


  14. Elisabeth Shue Mixes Passion With Acting

    She was just a kid when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in their legendary 1973 tennis match. Now Elisabeth Shue, 53, plays Riggs’ wife in a film about that match, Battle of the Sexes, which opens September 22. “I was so excited to be in a tennis movie,” the Oscar-nominated actress confesses. “I’ve been a psycho tennis addict for the past 13 years.” Her lesson for improving your game? Compete.


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