7 things you probably didn't know about Ke Huy Quan, Oscar-winning star of 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'

Ke Huy Quan as Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and Quan posing with his Oscar.
Ke Huy Quan as Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and Quan posing with his Oscar.20th Century Studios/MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Ke Huy Quan recently stepped back into the spotlight for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

  • He won the Oscar for best supporting actor in 2023.

  • Although the star stepped away from Hollywood for decades, he’s still had a fascinating career.

His brother also auditioned for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

Ke Huy Quan as Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Ke Huy Quan as Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."20th Century Studios

Ke Huy Quan got his big break in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the prequel to 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark." He played the adventurer's sidekick, Short Round — but he won the role accidentally.

Quan told Deadline that he was actually accompanying his brother to the audition when he was spotted by the casting director.

"My brother went to audition. I tagged along, and I was coaching him what to do behind the camera. The casting director saw me and asked me if I'm interested in reading for him, and I said yes. The next day, we got that fateful call from Steven Spielberg's office," he said.

Harrison Ford taught him to swim during filming.

Ke Huy Quan as Short Round and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
Ke Huy Quan as Short Round and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."20th Century Studios

While filming "Temple of Doom," Quan struck up something of a friendship with leading man Harrison Ford. But he hadn't actually seen "Star Wars" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

He told the New York Times: "I didn't see 'Star Wars" or 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' until after we finished the movie. But he was an amazing guy. So down-to-earth, so humble, and really generous as an actor."

The Academy Award winner also recalled how Ford actually taught him to swim on one of their days off from filming.

"And he taught me how to swim. We were just hanging out at the swimming pool in Sri Lanka in our hotel, and he says, 'Ke, do you know how to swim?' I didn't, so he says, 'Come on, I'll teach you,'" Quan recalled.

The bond between them is still pretty strong judging by their heartwarming reunion at the Oscars in 2023.

Ke Huy Quan worked on "X-Men" as an assistant stunt coordinator in 2000.

Ke Huy Quan on the set of "X-Men."
Ke Huy Quan on the set of "X-Men."Twitter

Although Quan's career would stall after "The Goonies" and "Temple of Doom," he found work as a stunt coordinator with fight choreographer Corey Yuen.

Quan told Deadline that he wanted to work with Yuen on one of his movies in the late 1980s but his TV projects got in the way.

But Quan stayed in touch with Yuen, and the choreographer offered him a job on a film in Toronto, which the actor was surprised to find out was Bryan Singer's "X-Men."

"So, when he found out that I graduated from USC film school, he called me and said, 'Ke, I just got this little movie in Toronto, I would love for you to come work for me.' This is literally right after graduation, so I packed my suitcase, got on a flight, landed, walked on set, and realized it was the 'X-Men,'" said Quan.

He added: "We then spent the next nine weeks together choreographing the Wolverine-Mystique fight at the end of the movie."

He was also the assistant director on another multiverse movie in 2001.

Jet Li as Gabe Law in "The One."
Jet Li as Gabe Law in "The One."Sony Pictures Releasing

Quan's experience on "X-Men" also landed him other gigs working for Yuen.

Quan told Deadline that the choreographer "took me under his wing" and they collaborated on Jet Li's "The One."

Interestingly, the film also features a story about the multiverse and alternate selves fighting each other — not too dissimilar to the plot of the Daniels' "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

In "The One," Jet Li plays numerous versions of Gabe Law, a sheriff, who discovers the existence of the multiverse when his evil counterpart wants to kill every single version of himself in every universe so he can become (you guessed it) "the One" and gain superhuman abilities.

Legendary director Wong Kar-wai reportedly set him up with his future wife, Echo.

Wong Kar-Wai, Echo Quan, and Ke Huy Quan.
Wong Kar-wai, Echo Quan, and Ke Huy Quan.Anthony Kwan/Getty Images for Festival de Cannes Film Week in Asia/Kayla Oaddams/WireImage

After working with Yuen, Quan joined director Wong Kar-wai's production company, Jet Tone, and according to a profile in the Guardian, this is where Quan would meet his wife.

The piece explains that the actor was an "assistant director on '2046,' a lavish romance by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. Wong even played cupid for Quan and his wife. The couple, who live in Los Angeles, have been together for 22 years after Wong first suggested they should date."

Echo would later work with Quan on "Everything Everywhere All At Once" as the film's translator. Directing duo the Daniels explained on Twitter that she played a vital role in production.

They tweeted: "Echo Quan (On Set Translator) was the secret soul of our film set. So many people have told us how much it meant to them to hear the family speaking in multiple languages (Cantonese, Mandarin, Chinglish, and English), and we couldn't have pulled it off without her."

Ke Huy Quan's lawyer is his "Goonies" costar, Jeff Cohen.

Jeff Cohen and Ke Huy Quan.
Jeff Cohen and Ke Huy Quan.Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Ke Huy Quan is clearly still close with several of his costars from "The Goonies," even telling Variety on the night of the Oscars: "Right before this night started, Corey Feldman, one of my 'Goonies' brothers called."

Quan also gave a shout-out in his acceptance speech to Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk in the film, because Cohen is his entertainment lawyer.

"Of course, Jeff Cohen, who is my entertainment lawyer, is here tonight with me. He was in the audience, and that's why I wanted to thank him because I love all of them so much," he said.

Cohen was the one who brokered Quan's deal for the A24 movie in the first place, so it's touching that he thanked him for his help and support.

Interestingly, "The Goonies" director Richard Donner actually paid for Cohen's college education after hearing about his troubled upbringing, something the lawyer revealed following Donner's death in 2021.

Part of Cohen's statement to Variety said: "He called me on the phone and instead of merely writing a letter of recommendation to college, he told me that he and Lauren had read my letter and they were going to pay for my college. I was absolutely flabbergasted. I was shocked."

"Crazy Rich Asians" convinced Ke Huy Quan to try again acting again.

Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young, Henry Golding as Nick Young, and Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in "Crazy Rich Asians."
Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Sung-Young, Henry Golding as Nick Young, and Constance Wu as Rachel Chu in "Crazy Rich Asians."Warner Bros. Pictures

The actor has spoken at length about why he stepped away from the industry, noting the lack of roles that he was offered and minimal Asian representation on the big screen.

However, when the tide shifted, he was convinced to try again after Jon M. Chu's "Crazy Rich Asians" was a huge success. The film raked in $238 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

Quan told GQ: "For a long time I thought I was at peace with it, but something was missing, and I really didn't know what it was until 'Crazy Rich Asians' came out. I saw my fellow Asian actors up on the screen, and I had serious FOMO because I wanted to be up there with them."

Quan added: "I thought about it for a long time, because I hadn't done it in 20 years, and you don't know if people will still embrace you.

"But when I stepped in front of the camera again, I realized that's what was missing all those years. I was nervous, of course, but somehow all those wonderful memories from when I was a kid came rushing back in."

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