Ke Huy Quan’s Loved Film and TV Roles

Ke Huy Quan, also known as Jonathan Ke Quan, is a Vietnamese-American actor and stunt coordinator. He was born on August 20, 1971, in Saigon, Vietnam, and later moved with his family to the United States.

Quan’s breakout role came in 1984 when he was cast as Short Round in Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure film “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Quan’s portrayal of the loyal and brave sidekick to Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) won over audiences and made him a popular child actor in the 1980s.

After his success in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” Quan went on to appear in other popular films of the decade, including “The Goonies” (1985) and “Breathing Fire” (1991). He also appeared in the TV series “Head of the Class” (1986-1990) as a recurring character.

Ke Huy Quan‘s epic Hollywood comeback was the cherry on top of this year’s history-making award season. On March 12, the 51-year-old took home the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role for his performance as Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Over the span of his nearly 40-year acting career, Quan has starred in a wide variety of movies and TV shows that laid the foundation for his award-winning ascent.

Quan made his acting debut in 1984 — when he was 12 years old — as Short Round in Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” opposite Harrison Ford. One year later, Quan returned as Data in “The Goonies” alongside fellow child actors Sean Astin, Jeff Cohen, and Corey Feldman. Though both projects were some of the highest-grossing films for their respective release years, Quan struggled to book additional roles. “It was tough,” he told People in 2022. “I was waiting for the phone to ring, and it rarely did.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I feel I have a responsibility to do something good.”

At the time, opportunities for Asian actors to see themselves onscreen were especially scarce. Following his breakout roles, Quan appeared as a series regular in sitcoms like “Head of the Class” and martial arts films, including “Breathing Fire” and “Second Time Around,” but opportunities to expand his resumé remained scant. In 2002, disheartened by the lack of auditions he was receiving, Quan made the “very difficult decision” to step away from acting. During his time away from the camera, he graduated from the film program at the University of Southern California and became a successful assistant director and stunt coordinator.

After watching “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018, Quan decided it was time to get back in front of the camera. “I was happy working behind the camera but I had serious FOMO,” he told People in the same interview. “I wanted to be up there with my fellow Asian actors!”

Following his “EEAAO” success, Quan is set to appear in three completed projects: Disney+’s “American Born Chinese,” the second season of Marvel’s “Loki,” and the Russo brothers’s upcoming sci-fi adventure, “The Electric State,” featuring Millie Bobby Brown and Chris Pratt. Since filming for “EEAAO” wrapped, however, Quan notably hasn’t received offers to appear in additional projects.

Hollywood has a long history of sidelining actors of color, including Asians and Asian Americans. Though Quan is deeply familiar with the industry’s pattern of excluding Asian actors, he’s not quitting this time; like Alpha Waymond, he’s pulling out all the stops, and he’s not about to back down anytime soon.

When asked if he’s worried about not having any projects lined up, Quan told Variety, “I attended an event recently and sat next to Cate Blanchett. I told her that I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I feel I have a responsibility to do something good, and that I don’t want to disappoint all the people that have supported me. And she said, ‘Just go with your heart and be irresponsible: Don’t worry about what other people think. Choose something that you believe in, choose something that you love, and things will work out.'” Your move, Hollywood.

Read more about Quan’s impressive acting history ahead.

“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

In 1984, Quan made his onscreen debut as Short Round in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Initially, he only attended the audition to support his younger brother, who was vying for the role, but a casting director quickly decided Quan was exactly who they were looking for. Starring opposite Harrison Ford, then 12-year-old Quan played the driver, confidant, travelling companion, and fellow adventurer to Indiana Jones.

“The Goonies” (1985)

Immediately following his standout role in “Indiana Jones,” Quan was cast in a second Steven Spielberg movie: “The Goonies.” As Data, a gadget-loving middle schooler and one of the four main marauders in the cult classic film, Quan embraced his inner James Bond. During the movie, the spy-loving preteen spends his time building traps and churning out countless inventions to assist his friends in tracking down One-Eyed Willy’s treasure.

“Together We Stand” (1986-1987)

In 1986, Quan jumped from film to television, making his TV debut as Sam Randall in 19 episodes of “Together We Stand.” The CBS sitcom, originally written as a spin-off of “The Brady Bunch,” told the story of a married couple David (Elliott Gould) and Lori Randall (Dee Wallace), and their adopted children. Though ratings for the show were initially high, they quickly dropped and the series was cancelled after one season.

“Head of the Class” (1990-1991)

In 1990, Quan portrayed transfer student Jasper Kwong in seasons four and five of “Head of the Class.” The sitcom was about a group of highly talented high school students in New York preparing for the Academic Olympics with the help of their history teacher Charlie Moore (Howard Hesseman). As a series regular, Quan remained in the cast until the series finale in 1991.

“Encino Man” (1992)

“Encino Man” is a comedy that follows two high schoolers, played by Pauly Shore and Sean Astin. When the pair discover a caveman named Link (Brendan Fraser) frozen in a block of ice, they attempt to help their new friend acclimate to the 20th century. Though Quan only makes a few brief appearances onscreen as a student named Kim, his role is memorable as Link defends the teenager from bullies, creating a lasting friendship between the pair.

“Finding ‘Ohana” (2021)

A 21st-century take on “The Goonies,” “Finding ‘Ohana” tells the story of a pair of siblings who move to Hawaii and find themselves on a quest for pirate treasure. While Quan was the only original “Goonies” cast member to make an appearance in the film, the movie delivers the same themes of adventure, family, and friendship.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022)

Quan’s Oscar-winning performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” needs no introduction. As Waymond Wang, he is a laundromat owner, father, and husband struggling to get by in a failing marriage. As Alpha Waymond, he leads his wife Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) through the multiverse, teaching her to fight off Jobu Tupaki’s minions by verse jumping. Ultimately, Quan’s character forces Evelyn to drop her nihilist attitude and face the world with kindness.

In addition to his acting career, Quan has worked as a stunt coordinator on films such as “X-Men” (2000) and “The One” (2001). He has also worked as a fight choreographer and trained actors in martial arts for their roles in films.

Quan has largely stepped back from the entertainment industry in recent years, but his contributions to popular films of the 1980s have earned him a place in movie history. His portrayal of Short Round in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” remains a beloved and iconic performance to this day.

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Sola James
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