Ke Huy Quan’s 39-year journey from child star to Oscar nominee

Ke Huy Quan: His 39-year journey from child star to Oscar nominee. (Alamy/Getty/A24)

It’s not easy being a childhood star in Hollywood, but in 2022, Ke Huy Quan made a big comeback and is making a name for himself again, some 39 years after he started.

Quan has come a long way since being Steven Spielberg’s golden boy starring in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, but it wasn’t always a hot property. The actor left Hollywood for 20 years because he didn’t think there were enough roles for Asian actors.

After fading out of the spotlight and making a triumphant return with Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan is on an upward trajectory thanks to his Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Read more: Explanation of the increase in Everything Everywhere All At Once prizes

From childhood star to Oscar-nominated heartthrob, here’s Ke Huy Quan’s surprise return and why fans can’t get enough of him, explained in 12 points.

From Vietnam to the United States. 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 joined his mother and his other siblings when they all immigrated to the United States in 1979.

Ke Huy Quan with Harrison Ford in a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from 1984. (Alamy)

Ke Huy Quan with Harrison Ford in a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from 1984. (Alamy)

A breaking role. Quan’s first role is one of his most famous, starring opposite Harrison Ford in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He was only 12 years old at the time, and the casting took place at the same school that his brother also attended.

USA. Corey Feldman and Ke Huy Quan in a scene from the Warner Bros. film: The Goonies (1985).  Plot: A group of young misfits called The Goonies discover an ancient map and embark on an adventure to find the lost treasure of a legendary pirate.  Ref: LMK110-J6911-271020 Supplied by LMKMEDIA.  Editorial only.  Landmark Media does not own the copyright to these movies or TV stills, but provides a service for well-known media outlets only.

Corey Feldman and Ke Huy Quan in a scene from The Goonies (LMK/Alamy)

Next steps. He continued his success as a child star by playing inventor Richard “Data” Wang in Richard Donner’s The Goonies, which also starred household names like Josh Brolin and Corey Feldman. Quan remains friends with co-star Jeff Cohen (Chunk), who is now his entertainment lawyer.

Go behind the camera. Quan struggled to find work after his original success, admitting to The Guardian how he gave up acting for nearly 20 years due to a lack of roles for Asian actors. Instead, she turned to choreography and helped with movies like X-Men and The One.

Crazy Rich Asians 2018 Real Jon M Chu Selena Tan Janice Koh Michelle Yeoh.  Christophe Collection © Color Force / SK Global / Warner Bros.

Selena Tan, Janice Koh and Michelle Yeoh at Crazy Rich Asians 2018. (Warner Bros./Alamy)

Back to business. It was 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians that persuaded Quan to return to 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 the Everything Everywhere co-star. Michelle Yeoh.

Everything everywhere at the same time (A24)

Ke Huy Quan as Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once. (A24)

An Oscar-worthy comeback. Everything Everywhere All At Once has grossed over $100 million and is A24’s highest-grossing film to date. It has 11 Oscar nominations as the most nominated film of the 95 Academy Awards.

Read more: Hollywood’s Best Comebacks

Quan himself has already won more than 50 awards for his portrayal of Waymond Wang.

Filming in secret. Despite getting the first role he auditioned for after his return, Quan told the Happy Sad Confused podcast that he kept Everything Everywhere All At Once a secret from his family: “I did the whole movie without them knowing.” He was worried that he would be fired from the film.

Exact place, exact time. Playing three versions of Waymond in the multiversal film, Quan admitted to people that he doesn’t think he could have played the role 15 years ago: “Looking back on my life, all the ups and downs, I reached deep within myself to pour my whole life in 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 historic win made him the first Vietnamese-born actor to win in the Supporting Actor category.

American-Vietnamese actor Ke Huy Quan poses with the award for Best Supporting Actor - Film for

American-Vietnamese actor Ke Huy Quan poses with his Golden Globe Award, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

Join the UCM. Quan plays a mysterious character in Loki season 2, joining Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, and Sophia di Martino. Quay said that Hiddleston loved working with Short Round, also confirming to Josh Horowitz that Kevin Feige called him personally to invite him into the MCU.

The Goonies 2. He always envisioned The Goonies 2 as his career comeback and said there have been numerous scripts, but nothing has been able to top the original. He said that while he is open to revisiting Data, the loss of director Richard Donner makes it less likely.

Harrison Ford in the first image of Indiana Jones 5. (Lucasfilm / Disney)

Harrison Ford in the first image of Indiana Jones 5. (Lucasfilm / Disney)

Playing Short Round again. It’s unknown if Quan will return as Short Round for Indiana Jones and Dial of Destiny, but he recently posed with Ford at D23. The star also said that he would love to return as Dr. Jones’ sidekick if Disney wanted him back for a Short Round spinoff.

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