Ke Huy Quan: His 39-year journey from child star to Oscar winner
From playing Short Round in Indiana Jones to Waymond Wang In Everything Everywhere All at Once, what's the story behind Ke Huy Quan?
It’s not easy being a childhood star in Hollywood, but in 2022, Ke Huy Quan made a major return and is making a name for himself all over again — some 39 years after he started.
Quan has come a long way from being Steven Spielberg’s golden boy starring in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, but he wasn't always a hot property. The actor dropped out of Hollywood for 20 years because he didn’t think there were enough roles for Asian actors.
After vanishing from the limelight and making a triumphant return for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan is on an upward trajectory thanks to his Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor.
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From childhood star to Oscar-winning beau, here’s the surprise return of Ke Huy Quan and why fans can’t get enough of him, explained in 12 points.
From Vietnam to the USA. Born in Vietnam in 1971, Ke Huy Quan fled the country in 1978 and ended up in a Hong Kong refugee camp with his father and five of his siblings. He was reunited with his mother and other siblings when they all emigrated to the United States in 1979.
A breakout role. Quan’s first role is one of his most famous, starring alongside Harrison Ford in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He was just 12 at the time, with casting taking place at the same school his brother also attended.
Next steps. He continued his child star success by playing inventor Richard "Data" Wang in Richard Donner’s The Goonies, which also starred household names like Josh Brolin and Corey Feldman. Quan is still friends with co-star Jeff Cohen (Chunk), who is now his entertainment lawyer.
Going behind the camera. Quan struggled to find work following his original success, admitting to The Guardian how he quit acting for nearly 20 years due to a lack of roles for Asian actors. Instead, he turned his hand to choreography and helped with movies including X-Men and The One.
Back in business. It was 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians that persuaded Quan to head back into acting, with the star telling People, “I had serious FOMO… I wanted to be up there with my fellow Asian actors!" Ironically, the movie starred Everything Everywhere co-star Michelle Yeoh.
An Oscar-worthy comeback. Everything Everywhere All At Once has grossed over $100 million and is A24’s highest-grossing movie to date. It has 11 Oscar nominations as the most-nominated movie of the 95th Academy Awards.
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Quan himself has already won over 50 awards for his portrayal of Waymond Wang.
Filming in secret. Despite getting the first role he auditioned for following his comeback, Quan told the Happy Sad Confused podcast he kept Everything Everywhere All At Once a secret from his family: “I made the entire movie without them knowing.” He was worried he might be fired from the movie.
Right place, right time. Playing three versions of Waymond in the multiversal movie, Quan admitted to people he doesn’t think he could’ve played the role 15 years ago: “Looking back upon my life, all the highs and lows, I reached deep within me to pour my entire life into these three different characters."
The Golden Globes. Speaking at the 2022 Golden Globes, Quan thanked Everything Everywhere directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for “remembering” that little boy from Temple of Doom. His landmark win saw him become the first Vietnam-born actor to win in the Supporting Actor category.
Joining the MCU. Quan plays a mystery character in Loki Season 2, joining Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, and Sophia di Martino. Quay said Hiddleston fanboyed about working with Short Round, and also confirmed to Josh Horowitz that Kevin Feige personally phoned to invite him into the MCU.
The Goonies 2. He always imagined The Goonies 2 would be his career comeback, saying there have been numerous scripts but nothing has been able to top the original. He said that while he’s open to revisiting Data, the loss of director Richard Donner makes it less likely.
Playing Short Round again. There’s no word on whether Quan will be back as Short Round for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, but he recently posed with Ford at D23. The star also said he’d love to return as Dr Jones’ sidekick if Disney wanted him back for a Short Round spin-off series.