Ke Huy Quan: Oscars winner’s reunion with Harrison Ford and movies explained - who is former child star?
Ford and Quan starred together in Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom
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The award was presented by his former co-star Harrison Ford, with the pair celebrating on stage 39 years after they starred together in Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom, when Quan was just 12-years-old. The actor, who had a successful career as a child star, has only recently got back on the big screen.
His impressive comeback saw him land the role of Waymond Wang, the husband of Michelle Yeoh’s character Evelyn Wang. The film was a huge success at the Academy Awards, taking home seven awards and beating other favourites including Tar and The Banshees Of Inisherin. So, who is former child star Ke Huy Quan, what movies might you recognise him from and what did he say during his Oscars speech? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Ke Huy Quan?
The 51-year-old actor moved from Vietnam to Hong Kong as a child, before settling in America with his family in 1979. He got his first big break by chance, when in 1984 he was picked to play the role of Short Round alongside Ford in Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. He had originally gone to the audition to support his brother, but tried out for the role at the suggestion of the casting director.
In an interview with the Guardian in November 2022, Quan shared what his childhood was like growing up in America. He said: “We were refugees. Nobody wanted us … They would call us ‘fresh off the boat’. They would make fun of us when we were in school. You can imagine what that does to the mental state of a child.”
Following his breakout role he would go on to star in the Goonies as Data and in TV sitcoms. However, as he got older Quan found he was unable to get roles and the actor instead started to work behind the scenes as a stunt coordinator and assistant director.
What movies has he starred in?
Quan is best known for starring in two of the most popular movies from the 1980s. At just 12-years-old he got his first big break as Short Round alongside Ford in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. Following his standout performance he landed a role as Data, in The Goonies and starred in TV sitcoms Together We Stand and Head of the Class.
However, as he got older he found that finding roles grew increasingly difficult. In an interview with the Telegraph he explained: “It’s always difficult to make the transition from a child actor to an adult actor. But when you’re Asian, then it’s 100 times more difficult. If you were to take 100 scripts, there was a high probability that none of them would feature any meaningful Asian characters. A lot of the time we were the butt of the joke.” He continued: “Your early 20s are supposed to be golden years and all I did was wait for the phone to ring.”
Quan decided to get back into acting after watching the movie Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, he hired an agent and landed the role as Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
What did he say during his Oscars speech?
Quan was presented his Oscar by his former co-star Ford. The pair shared an emotional hug on stage 39 years after they starred together in Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom, when Quan was just 12-years-old.
Accepting the award, Quan said: “My mom is 84 years old and she is at home watching. Ma, I just won an Oscar!” He continued: “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. They say stories like this only happen the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This — this is the American dream!”