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)

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

It’s not easy being a youth 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 as Steven Spielberg’s golden boy starring in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, but he wasn’t always a popular asset. The actor left Hollywood for 20 years because he felt there were not enough roles for Asian actors.

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

Read more: Everything Everywhere All At Once Rewards Peaks Explained

From childhood star to Oscar-nominated beau, 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 USA. Born in Vietnam in 1971, Ke Huy Quan fled the country in 1978 and ended up in a refugee camp in Hong Kong with his father and five of his siblings. He was reunited with his mother and other siblings when they all immigrated to the United States in 1979.

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

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

A breakthrough role. Quan’s first role is one of his most famous, alongside Harrison Ford in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He was only 12 at the time and the casting took place at the same school his brother went to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comeback. 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 there with my fellow Asian actors!” Ironically, the movie starred Everything Everywhere co-star Michelle Joehoe.

Everything everywhere at once (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 95th Academy Awards.

Read more: The best Hollywood 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 comeback, 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 afraid he would be fired from the film.

Right place right time. Quan played three versions of Waymond in the multiversal movie, admitting to people he thinks he couldn’t have played the part 15 years ago: all my life in these three different characters.”

The Golden Globes. 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 - Motion Picture for

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

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

The Goonies 2. He had always thought The Goonies 2 would be his career comeback, saying that there have been countless scripts, but nothing could top the original. He said that while he’s open to Data revisiting, the loss of director Richard Donner makes it less likely.

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

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

Play short round again. It’s unknown if 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 would love to return as Dr Jones’ sidekick if Disney wanted him back for a short-run spin-off series.

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