'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan almost gave up acting after a string of successful childhood roles. But his wife and former 'Goonies' costar wouldn't let him quit.
Ke Huy Quan won best supporting actor at the 2023 Academy Awards.
Quan's career began with his breakout role in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
After a 20-year hiatus, Quan returned to acting, notably in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
Ke Huy Quan was born in Vietnam and came to Los Angeles with his family in 1979.
As one of nine children, Quan's refugee family was split up while fleeing the Vietnam War before reuniting in Los Angeles.
While accepting the Academy Award for best supporting actor, Quan referenced his path to stardom: "My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow I ended up here on Hollywood's biggest stage," Quan said.
In 1983, casting directors went to his Chinatown school in Los Angeles looking for a young Asian boy to be in a Steven Spielberg movie, according to CBS News. When his brother decided to go to the casting call, Quan joined him. A casting director saw Quan coaching his brother through the audition and suggested Quan give it a try, the outlet reported.
The role in question? A starring part alongside Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Quan's first big role was in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" in 1984.
In 1984, 12-year-old Quan starred in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" as Short Round, Indiana Jones' sidekick throughout the movie.
Quan spoke fondly of his time on set, and his relationship with Spielberg, to the Associated Press in December 2022.
"I'm always grateful to that man. Not only did he teach me so much, but he changed my life in the most wonderful way. I guess the reason why I love acting so much has a lot to do with him," Quan said to the outlet. "I have such fond memories of that experience. That's the reason I fell in love with acting."
Nearly 39 years later, Quan reunited with his "Indiana Jones" costar when Harrison Ford presented Quan's Oscar to him. It's worth noting Spielberg and Quan have also reunited multiple times throughout the 2023 award season.
Quan was one of the young stars of 1985's "The Goonies."
Quan quickly became a recognizable child star in Hollywood. Just months after his role in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," Quan was cast in the 1985 hit "The Goonies."
Quan was not the only "Goonies" star to go on to have a remarkable career in Hollywood: It was a breakout part for child stars Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, and Josh Brolin, too.
Quan told reporters at the 2023 Oscars that Feldman called him prior to the Academy Awards ceremony to wish him good luck. Feldman also took to Instagram to celebrate his friend's win.
Quan began taking roles overseas with the 1987 Japanese film, "Passenger: Sugisarishi hibi."
After "The Goonies" release, Quan says his roles in Hollywood became few and far between.
"Well, I started at the very top, so there was no way to go but downhill from there!" Quan said of his acting career to CBS News in February.
He was cast as Sam in the short-lived 1986 sitcom "Nothing is Easy," before taking the role of Rick in "Passenger: Sugisarishi hibi," a Japanese action movie about a woman falling in love with a famous bike racer.
Quan appeared in the 1991 martial arts movie "Breathing Fire" while working on a sitcom.
In 1990, Quan joined the cast of the sitcom "Head of the Class" as Jasper Kwong for a season. Jasper played a transfer student in the high school sitcom about gifted kids.
The following year, Quan took on the role of Charlie Moore in the 1991 martial arts movie "Breathing Fire," showing off his own martial arts abilities. In the film, Charlie and his brother Eddie must use their kickboxing skills to protect a girl from their bank-robbing father and his gang.
Quan's martial arts skills would eventually lead him to behind-the-scenes jobs in the industry as a stunt coordinator on 2000's "X-Men" and the 2009 short film "Enigma."
In a March 2022 interview with Vulture, Quan credited "Lethal Weapon 4" action director Corey Yuen for his stunt coordinating abilities.
"He taught me everything that goes into choreographing a fight sequence: how to shoot it, how to edit it," Quan said. "It was one of the best times in my life."
The 1992 teen comedy "Encino Man" starred Brandon Fraser and featured a young Quan.
Quan worked with fellow 2023 Oscar winner Brandon Fraser in 1992 with the release of their comedy "Encino Man."
Frazer starred as Link, a frozen caveman that is introduced to modern life when two teens thaw him out, while Quan had a small role as Kim, the teens' classmate.
The 1997 Taiwanese movie "Red Pirate" starred Quan as a cop on a mission to stop money laundering pirates.
In the 1997 Hong Kong film "Red Pirate," Quan starred as Ko-Wei Kuan. In this martial arts action movie, Quan shows off his technical taekwondo training that helped him perform stunts in "Everything Everywhere All at Once," according to Variety.
Quan began training with a Tae Kwon Do master after his role in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," according to a March 2022 profile in Vulture.
The 2002 Chinese film "Second Time Around" features Quan in a supporting role.
The film is a scifi, action, romance adventure where a gambler must travel back in time in order to correct his mistakes.
In this 2002 Hong Kong action movie, Quan portrays Sing Wong, the main character's best friend and fellow gambler.
It was after this that Quan took a hiatus from on-camera work.
Quan's return to on-camera work featured a role in the 2021 Netflix movie "Finding 'Ohana."
In March 2022, Quan explained to Variety that the 2018 romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians" inspired his return to acting.
"When 'Crazy Rich Asians' came out and I saw my fellow Asian actors up on the screen, I wanted to be up there with them. I called up an agent friend of mine, and I asked him if he wanted to represent me, and he said yes," Quan said to the outlet.
In "Finding 'Ohana" Hawaiian siblings Pili and Loane are New York natives that return to the island with their mom, Leilani. In the movie, the duo searches for a long-lost treasure to save their family home and connect to their Hawaiian heritage.
Quan plays George Phan, Leilani's high school friend and island resident, in this treasure-hunt style, "The Goonies"-esque adventure movie.
Quan brings Waymond Wang to life in the Oscar-winning 2022 film "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
Quan won his first Oscar for his role as Waymond Wang in the 2023 Academy Awards best picture winner "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
The critically acclaimed sci-fi film follows Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) a laundromat owner and immigrant mother, as she is tasked with saving existence by connecting with the lives she could've lived in the multiverse.
Evelyn's primary mission is to heal her relationship with her queer daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Waymond, Evelyn's husband, is also a crucial character in nearly every lifetime she visits.
Quan's real-life wife, Echo, worked as a Chinese translator for the film, according to Today. In Quan's Golden Globes acceptance speech for best supporting actor, he thanked her and credited her with being "the one person that never stopped believing in me."
Quan said winning an Oscar for his role was "the American dream" in his acceptance speech.
Quan's upcoming projects include a role in the Disney+ series "Loki."
The Vietnamese actor has been very open about his struggle with finding work in Hollywood in the past. In March, Quan told James Corden on "The Late Late Show" that he didn't have health insurance after filming "Everything Everywhere All at Once" because no one would hire him.
Fortunately, it appears Quan is now back in the acting mix. In 2023, Quan will play Freddy Wong in the Disney+ series "American Born Chinese."
He will also have a recurring role in the streaming service's Marvel show "Loki." The second season of "Loki" is expected to premiere summer of 2023.
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