– Wait, miss, we’re going for a ride! Almost 40 years after making that understatement about the lines on the rope bridge in one of the most famous films of the 1980s, actor Ke Huy Quan is now on a wild ride of his own.
The 51-year-old Everything Everywhere All At Once star is now oscar winner, taking home the award for Best Supporting Actor – but prior to his life-changing role in the blockbuster multiverse, he was best known for his work as a child star.
If you were wondering where you knew it from, think back and you’ll put it; as the young midfielder Short Round next door Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and gadget-loving Data – the loot trapper and inventor of the suction cup belt and smooth boots – in The Goonies.
Despite these roles in two of the most beloved films of the 1980s, Quan had difficulty finding further work in an industry where opportunities for Asian-American actors were few. Unable to find screen roles, he eventually went to film school, began working behind the camera, and more or less gave up hopes of acting again.
Not only has he made a comeback in the past 12 months, but he’s also been an award-winner, winning a slew of awards – including a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice and SAG awards – for his portrayal of Waymond Wang opposite Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere. Now he’s added an Oscar to that list.
“My mom is 84 and watching at home,” he told the Oscars audience as he accepted his statuette. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!”
When Quan entered the stage, he received a standing ovation. “My journey began on a boat,” he continued. “I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow found myself here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.
“They say stories like this only happen in movies. I can’t believe this is happening to me – this is the American dream. Thank you very much to the Academy for the honor of a lifetime.”
Prior to the ceremony, Quan was a favorite at the awards show, taking selfies with everyone from Tom Cruise to directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, who directed him in Indiana Jones many years ago.
“The last time I was on screen, I was a little kid”
“I am so happy!” he exclaimed as he spoke to Sky News at the London Critics’ Circle Awards in February, wearing joy on his sleeve. Quan in 2023 is still boyish, his face is expressive; the young star is still there.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said of his return. “Also surreal. In fact, when I decided to go back to acting, I was very nervous because I didn’t know what the audience would think. [time] saw me on screen. I was a little kid and now I’m a middle aged man. So the positive response has been amazing.”
In a world where A-listers tend to be more reserved, it was a pleasure to watch his enthusiasm.
“I love selfies”
After his annual pre-Oscars breakfast, he shared a series of photos on Instagram, almost all of which show a smiling Quan in the pointing-finger pose that has become his trademark, alongside the likes of Cruise, Angela Bassett and Brendan Fraser.
“I was so excited to be at the Academy’s 95th Breakfast today,” he wrote under the post. “As we were getting ready for the group photo, I looked around and got very emotional because it finally dawned on me that I was among this group of nominees… and you probably already figured it out, I love selfies. from this afternoon.”
All thanks to his critically acclaimed performance in Everything Everywhere.
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“When I read the script, I knew it was something special,” he said. “I loved it. It was a script I’ve wanted to read for a long time and we had the most fun creating it. But we didn’t expect all this. I mean all those award nominations and the audience-encompassing film the way they’ve done it is beyond anything we ever imagined.
“I’m glad [awards season] Very. I am very grateful for everything that has happened since then. And yes, it was a crazy ride.”
“Knowing where I am today, I wouldn’t trade it for any other world”
At the pre-Oscars party in the UK, the cheerful Quan spoke to Sky News again and discussed how his return correlates with the film’s alternate life theme.
“That’s another reason why people love our movie, all those questions about what if?” he said. “Which way would you choose if you were at a crossroads? We always wonder what our life would have been like if we had chosen a different path?
“I think about it sometimes, especially when I struggled as an actor. I always think, could I have done something differently? Would I have had more opportunities when I was much younger? Knowing where I am today, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
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When asked at the time if he was thinking about Oscar, he said he was just “trying to be in the moment” and enjoying one day at a time. “Honestly, when I made this movie, when I decided to go back to acting, I didn’t think any of this was possible. I just wanted a job. I just wanted to be in front of the camera again. All these nominations are so, so great. It’s already a win for me.”
Now, having been shortlisted alongside Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan of The Banshees Of Inisherin, Brian Tyree Henry of Causeway and Judd Hirsch of The Fabelmans, Ke Huy Quan is an Oscar winner.
Goonies never say die, after all.