Ke Huy Quan Wins Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Ke Huy Quan wins Best Supporting Actor in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar Awards, arguably is the most prestigious and highest award giving body in the world for film achievement.

All personalities in the film industry dreamed to win an Oscar but only few managed to make it. In Asia, only few ever barged into the nomination list.

Ke Huy Quan wins Best Supporting Actor in Everything Everywhere All at Once

This year, at the 95th Academy Awards, Asians finally rose into the occasion as Vietnamese-born Ke Huy Quan and Malaysian-born Michelle Yeoh won Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress respectively for their awesome portrayals as husband and wife in the action comedy film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, which also won Best Picture.

Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan win Oscars

Michelle Yeoh is popular in Asia because she began her career in Hongkong. She has numerous hit films: Police Story with Jacky Chan, Reign of the Assassins, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, among others.

However, Ke Huy Quan is not quite known among Asian drama fans. He began his career in Hollywood as a child star. And his most popular film to date was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with Harrison Ford, which he starred in 1984 when he was only 12.

Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan Indiana Jones
Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

So here's something about Ke Huy Quan.

Ke Huy Quan, also known as Jonathan Ke Quan, was born on August 20, 1971, in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam to family of Chinese ancestry.

In 1978, his family fled Vietnam. He arrived in a refugee camp in Hongkong with his father and five siblings while his mother and three siblings fled to Malaysia. In 1979, his family moved to the United States through the Refugee Resettlement Program of the United States.

Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan Indiana Jones
Ke Huy Quan as Strong Round in Indiana Jones

In 1984, Quan won the role of Strong Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom after he and other children, including his younger brother, auditioned for the role. The movie starred Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Harrison Ford and Ke Huy Quan Indiana Jones
Ke Huy Quan with Indiana Jones co-stars Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw

In 1985, Quan portrayed Data in the hit film, The Goonies. He then played a pickpocket orphan in the 1986 Taiwanese movie, It Takes a Thief. In 1987, he appeared in the Japanese movie Passengers  with Japanese idol singer Honda Minako.

However as an adult, Ke Huy Quan struggled to get a role due to limited opportunities for Asians in Hollywood. Disillusioned with his acting career, Ke Huy Quan went back to school and studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California where he graduated in 1999. 

Ke Huy Quan
Ke Huy Quan 

After graduation, he worked with Hong Kong fight choreographer Corey Yuen on several projects. He helped choreographed the fighting sequences in X-Men in 2000 and for the next decade, he worked behind the scenes on various productions in Asia and the United States. 

He again helped Corey Yuen as a stunt choreographer for The One (2001). Quan worked as assistant director on Hongkong director, Wong Kar-wai film, 2046, in 2004. 

In 2021, his big break came when he was cast as Waymond Wang, the meek and goofy husband of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) in the action comedy adventure film, Everything Everywhere All at Once. They played as Chinese immigrant family in the United States.

Hollywood Dream

In his acceptance speech at the Oscars, Ke Huy Quan said: “My mom is 84 years old, and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar.” Quay continued between tears, “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 in the movies—I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This, this is the American dream.”

He also thanked his wife, Echo Quan. “I owe everything to the love of my life, my wife, Echo, who month after month, year after year, for 20 years told me that one day, one day my time will come,” he said of his longtime partner. “Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there—please keep your dreams alive.”

Quan is only the second Asian actor to win the best supporting actor award at the Oscars. The first was Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields in 1984, ironically the year Ke Huy Quan made his acting debut in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Killing Fields was a film about the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.

"I was famished for a role like this,” he said in an interview about his role as the optimistic Waymond Wang. 

But in the time between filming his pivotal role and the film’s smash hit release, Quan said, “I couldn’t get a single job. In fact, I lost my health insurance. It was a time when I was at my lowest. And then our movie came out, and it changed everything.”

Read Related story: Michelle Yeoh wins Oscar Awards Best Actress 

Following his Academy Award win, Quan’s schedule is quickly filling up, with roles on the Disney+ series American Born Chinese and season two of Marvel’s Loki in 2023. 

“When I stepped in front of the camera, I felt alive,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it was a feeling that I haven’t had for decades. But I feel alive now."

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