From Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to The Goonies, this child actor played in several well-known movies in the ’80s and early ’90s. Although you probably recognize his face when you see him in movies, do you know the name Ke Huy Quan? Here’s why you absolutely should.
Who Is Ke Huy Quan?
If you grew up watching movies in the 1980s, Quan’s face is probably plastered on your mind. The child actor was just 12 years old when he landed a role that would change his life. While attending elementary school, Quan was asked to audition for a character in one of the most popular movies of its time, Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Quan ended up nailing the audition and played the witty sidekick in the movie, Short Round.
Spielberg took note of Quan. The following year, the child actor played in yet another Spielberg movie, The Goonies. Quan took on the role of Richard Wang, better known as Data in the movie. From one movie to the next, it appeared that Quan would continue to be a rising star. However, he soon discovered that blockbuster roles for Asian men were few and far between during this time in Hollywood.
‘Never Say Die’
Quan wanted to stay in movies but soon decided to go a different route. He enrolled in film school and spent several years behind the camera. From directing fight scenes in the movie X-Men to being a stunt choreographer on The One, the actor took on film production and remained behind the scenes for nearly two decades.
In 2022, all that changed for Quan. It’s no longer the 1980s, which means that Asian men don’t just have to play bit parts in movies or stereotypical roles. It’s about time! For fans, that means that we get to see Quan back in front of the camera.
In an interview with New York Magazine, Quan explained how he realized that it may be possible to act again after seeing the movie Crazy Rich Asians in 2018. Once he realized the movie was a success, he hired an agent and soon was reading the script for Everything Everywhere All at Once. During the reading, he couldn’t contain his excitement as he connected with the role of Waymond Wang in the movie. “I had tears running down my cheeks,” shared the actor. “I said, ‘I think this role was written for me!’”
Turns out, Quan was right. Although the character wasn’t necessarily written with Quan in mind, the movie’s directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, quickly agreed that he was the best person for the role. In fact, his years away from acting may have been just what the movie needed. “I don’t think I could have played Waymond had this been ten or 15 years ago,” Quan reflected. “I needed all that life experience to give me the nuance and the depth—to give me the different versions of him.”