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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The comeback story of ‘Goonies’ star Key Hu Quan

There are always a few stories across the Academy Awards that pull at the heartstrings, and while Brendan Fraser picking up ‘Best Leading Actor’ induced a lorryload of tears for audience members across the globe, there was arguably another moment at the 95th edition of the Oscars that was even more pertinent, and it started with a simple yet beautiful line: “My mom is 84 years old, and she’s at home watching,” said Key Hu Quan. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” as he picked up the award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his role in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

It’s a simple tribute that many stars have made over the 95 editions of the star-studded event. However, this one felt a little more potent than the others; this one was delivered with tears in the actor’s eyes, a story in his heart and pure joy beaming from every molecule in his body. Quan’s is a tale that few can compete with, and it started, like so many American stories, in a refugee camp. “Somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it is happening to me. This — this — is the American dream!”

Quan has had a dream-like awards season picking up wins at both the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and the Golden Globe Awards for his impressive turn in the adventurous sci-fi classic Everything Everywhere All At Once. Quan starred alongside Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, in the multidimensional story about a mother and a daughter attempting to reconnect through time and space. It all starts when Evelyn (Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Quan), who own a city laundromat, are taken in for a serious meeting about their financial situation by Curtis’ Deirdre. And now, the actor is an Oscar winner, grabbing the Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’. Quan is the first Vietnam-born actor to win an Oscar for an acting role and will go down in history as a pioneer.

Having fled Vietnam in 1978, Quan and his family were divided into two factions. He, his father and five of his brothers and sisters headed to Hong kong while his mother and three other siblings found refuge in Malaysia. From there, the family group were finally admitted as a whole to America, where they could start a new life in a resettlement programme. Within five years, Quan would get his first big break and start to turn his life into a real-life American dream.

At the age of 12, Quan became one of the most beloved characters of the decade as he took on the role of Short Round, the sidekick of Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was a seismic moment for Quan, showing him not only the glitzier side of life but providing a career path he would follow all his life. During his recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Quan paid tribute to Spielberg: “I was raised to never forget where I came from and to always remember who gave me my first opportunity. I am so happy to see Steven Spielberg here tonight. Steven, thank you!”

A year later, Quan would take on another classic role in cinema history while still in his teenage years, becoming a crucial part of the legacy of The Goonies, perhaps one of the most beloved movies of the decade. The role of Data in that classic flick would, however prove to be one of the final major roles Quan would take on. Largely relegated to obscure TV roles in the following years, Quan would share a moment with fellow Oscar winner Brendan Fraser in 1992 with a brief role in Encino Man.

From that moment on, it became clear to Quan that his time in the limelight had seemingly passed him by. Instead of going up for acting roles, he instead concentrated on working behind the camera, enrolling in a film programme at the University of Southern California and finding work as a stunt choreographer, working on movies such as X-Men, The One and Wong Kar-wai’s 2046. However, things would eventually change in 2018 when Quan found a route back into acting.

2018’s Crazy Rich Asians would give Quan the impetus to delve back into acting. His biggest break would come when The Daniels offered him the role of Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s a unique story too, as the actor revealed on The Hollywood Reporter round table discussion: “It was when the Daniels saw somebody did a joke on Facebook, and it was a picture of Andrew Yang running for President. The caption said Short Round is all grown up and he’s running for President, which triggered him to go, ‘Oh, I wonder what Khe is doing?’”

Quan went on: “Literally two weeks later, I got a call about the script, and I read it, and I was blown away by the script. Not only was it beautifully written, but it was a script I wanted to read. I was so hungry, so eager for a script like this, for a role like this.” The role would provide Quan with not only his finest role to date but a genuine foothold in the profession that launched his career and gave him a sense of purpose he never knew he needed.

Who is Key Hu Quan?

Key Hu Quan is an American national who starred in two of the most beloved movies of the 1980s. Shortly after this he struggled to find much acting work and dedicated himself to a life behind the camera. However, in 2020, he would be given a golden opportunity to return to working as an actor with the role as Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The role has seen him win awards at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden globes, and now an Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor.

Where is Key Hu Quan from?

Born in Saigon, South Vietnam, Key Hu Quan was one of nine brothers and sisters who fled Vietnam. Along with five of his siblings, he and his father escaped the country to find a settlement in Hong kong while his mother and three other member sof the immediate family found refuge in Malaysia in 1978. The following year, Quan and his entire family were settled in America and beginning to build a new life.

After securing the iconic roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, Quan went to high school in Tujunga, California. As the acting work dried up, Quan pursued work behind the camera, and to do so needed some qualifications. He graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1999. It was there that he produced and shot the multi-award winning short film Voodoo.

What has Ke Huy Quan starred in?

Ke Huy Quan’s first role came in Steven Spielberg’s 1984 movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom starring alongside Harrison Ford as the titular character’s sidekick Short Round. That starring role would open the door for his next major role as Data in 1985 children’s classic The Goonies.

Quan also took on roles in 186’s It Takes a Thief, the movies Passenger (1987), Breathing Fire (1991) and a small role in Encino Man from 1992. Small roles followed in 2002’s Second Time Around and his role as George Phan in Finding Ohana. That was until he grabbed his role as Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once and became an Oscar winner.

What did Key Hu Quan do after being a child star?

Having been a considerable star before he hit the age of 13, thanks to his roles as Short Round in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and as Data in The Goonies a year later, Quan struggled to maintain the level of work. Rather than continue to pick up small roles, Quan turned his back on acting.

He enrolled in university to study film at University of Southern California, taking his knowledge to help him work on projects with Corey Yuen, the iconic Hong Kong film director. Quan worked behind the scenes on a multitude of productions in Asia and America, helping Yuen as a stunt choreographer for The One in 2001. However, his most prestigious role behind the scenes was as Wong Kar-wai’s Assisntant Director on 2046.

What has he said about his comeback?

Key Hu Quan’s incredible comeback is one of the most brilliant success stories of modern times. Quan was found for his role in 2020, after The Daniels, the creative team behind the Oscar-winning movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, decided to reach out and contact Quan following a Facebook meme.

“As I grew older, I started to wonder if that was it — if that was just luck,” Quan admitted while talking about the decline in his later career when accepting the Golden Globes for his role as Waymond Wang. “For so many years, I was afraid I had nothing more to offer, that no matter what I did, I would never surpass what I’d achieved as a kid.”

The actor added: “Thankfully, more than 30 years later, two guys thought of me. They remembered that kid, and they gave me an opportunity to try again. Everything, everything that has happened since, has been unbelievable. Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, thank you so, so much for helping me find my answer. You have given me more than I could have ever hoped.”

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