A look at Ke Huy Quan’s extensive pre-Oscar Winning career

Ke Huy Quan’s career has spanned 39 years and nine feature films.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Michael Tran/Getty Images; A24

  • Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor at the 2023 Academy Awards.
  • Quan’s career began with his role in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
  • After a 20-year hiatus, Quan returned to acting, most notably in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Ke Huy Quan was born in Vietnam and came to Los Angeles with his family in 1979.

Steven Spielberg (left) and Ke Huy Quan (right) attend the Publicists Guild Awards in 1985.
Ron Galella/Getty Images

One of nine children, Quan’s refugee family was split up fleeing the Vietnam War before reuniting in Los Angeles.

While accepting the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Quan mentioned 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 the biggest stage in Hollywood,” 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 try out, the outlet reported.

The role in question? Starring in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” with Harrison Ford.

Quan’s first major role was in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Kate Capshaw and Ke Huy Quan in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” in 1984.
Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

In 1984, 12-year-old Quan starred in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Short Round, Indiana Jones’ sidekick throughout the film.

Quan spoke fondly of his time on set, and his relationship with Spielberg, To the Associated Press in December 2022.

“I am forever grateful to that man. Not only did he teach me so much, but he changed my life in the most wonderful way. I think it has a lot to do with why I love acting so much,” Quan. he told the outlet. “I have such fond memories of that experience. That’s why I fell in love with the actor.”

Nearly 39 years later, Quan reunited with his “Indiana Jones” co-star when Harrison Ford presented Quan with his Oscar. It’s worth noting that Spielberg and Quan have also met several times during the 2023 awards season.

Quan was one of the young stars of the 1985 film “The Goonies.”

Jeff Cohen, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Ke Huy Quan (left to right) in “The Goonies” in 1985.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Quan quickly became a popular child star in Hollywood. A few months after his work on “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, Quan starred in the 1985 hit “The Goonies”.

Quan wasn’t the only “Goonies” star to have a notable career in Hollywood: It was also a stretch for child stars Corey Feldman, Sean Astin and Josh Brolin.

Quan told reporters at the 2023 Academy Awards that Feldman called her before the Academy Awards to wish her luck. Feldman He also took to Instagram to celebrate his friend’s victory.

Quan began taking roles overseas with the 1987 Japanese film Passenger: Sugisarishi hibi.

“Passenger: Sugisarishi hibi” starred Minako Honda and Kunihiko Mitamura in 1987.
Photo by Shochiku Productions

After the release of “The Goonies,” Quan says her roles in Hollywood became few and far between.

“Well, I started at the very top, so it was all downhill from there!” Quan said of his acting career CBS News in February.

He was cast as Sam in the short-lived 1986 sitcom “Nothing is Easy,” before landing the role of Rick in “Passenger: Sugisarishi hibi,” a Japanese action film about a woman who falls in love with a famous bicycle racer.

Quan appeared in the 1991 martial arts film “Breathing Fire” while working on a sitcom.

Ke Huy Quan plays Charlie Moore in the 1991 film “Breathing Fire.”
Photo by Golden Pacific Films & Arts

In 1990, Quan joined the cast of the sitcom “Head of the Class” for one season as Jasper Kwong. 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 film Breathing Fire, showcasing his martial arts skills. In the film, Charlie and his brother Eddie must use their kickboxing skills to protect a young girl from her bank-robbing father and his gang.

Quan’s martial arts skills would eventually lead to behind-the-scenes work in the industry as an investigator coordinator on the 2000 “X-Men” and 2009 short films “Enigma.”

In a March 2022 interview with VultureQuan credited “Lethal Weapon 4” action director Corey Yuen for his stunt coordination skills.

“He taught me everything about choreographing a fight sequence: how to shoot, how to edit,” Quan said. “It was one of the best times of my life.”

The 1997 Taiwanese film “Red Pirate” featured Quan as a police officer on a mission to stop money-laundering pirates.

Ke Huy Quan starred in the 1997 Taiwanese action film “The Red Pirate”.
Main Yang Film Production Co’s photo

In the 1997 Hong Kong film “Red Pirate”, Quan played Ko-Wei Kuan. In this martial arts action film, Quan shows off his technical taekwondo training that helped him perform the stunts in “Everything Everywhere All Once.” According to Variety.

Quan began training with a Tae Kwon Do master after his role in the movie “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.

Ke Huy Quan starred in the 2002 Chinese science fiction film Second Time Around.
Photo by China Star Entertainment Group

The film is a sci-fi action romance adventure where a gambler must travel back in time to correct his mistakes.

In this 2002 Hong Kong action film, Quan portrays Sing Wong, the main character’s best friend and gambler.

It was after that Quan took a break from camera work.

Quan brings to life Waymond Wang in the 2022 film “Everything Everywhere All Once”.

Ke Huy Quan stars alongside Michelle Yeoh in 2022’s “Everything Everywhere All Once.”
Photo by A24

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 sci-fi film follows critically-acclaimed laundromat owner and immigrant mother Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) as she tries to save lives by connecting her to the lives she could have lived in the multiverse.

Evelyn’s main mission is to heal her relationship with her eccentric daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Waymond, Evelyn’s husband, is a crucial figure in almost every life she visits.

Quan’s real-life wife, Echo, worked as a Chinese translator for the film, According to Gaur. In Quan’s Golden Globes acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor, he thanked her and credited her as “the one person who never stopped believing in me.”

Quan said winning an Oscar for his role was an “American dream” in his acceptance speech.

Quan’s upcoming projects include the role of “Loki” in the Disney+ series.

US-Vietnamese actor Ke Huy Quan, Academy Award winner for Best Actor for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” attends the Vanity Fair 95th Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California has March 12, 2023.
MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Vietnamese actor has been very open in the past about his struggle to find work in Hollywood. In March, Quan said James Corden on “The Late Late Show.” That he didn’t have health insurance after filming “Everything Everywhere All Once” because no one would hire him.

Thankfully, it looks like 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 on the streaming service’s Marvel show “Loki.” The second season of “Loki” is expected to premiere in the summer of 2023.

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