Ke Huy Quan Fights Through Tears While Winning Best Supporting Actor Oscar: ‘This Is the American Dream!’
Actor Ke Huy Quan was 12 years old when he made his screen debut in Steven Spielberg’s 1984 blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He followed up with another megahit, the 1985 adventure film The Goonies.
That early, one-two punch of improbable success made Quan think “that I was going to have this amazing career,” he says, but aside from a few minor TV and film roles that followed, the acting opportunities quickly fizzled. Not to mention the fact that there were few parts for Asian actors, which were usually small and stereotypical.
“It was tough,” he says. “I was waiting for the phone to ring, and it rarely did.” In the early 2000s, Quan says he made the “very difficult decision” to step away from acting. After graduating from film school at USC, he turned his attention behind the scenes, becoming a successful assistant director and stunt coordinator.
He was lured back due to positive changes in Asian representation in movies and television in recent years, especially in the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians.
“For a long time I thought I was at peace with [retiring from acting], but something was missing, and I really didn’t know what it was until Crazy Rich Asians came out,” Quan told GQ. “I saw my fellow Asian actors up on the screen, and I had serious FOMO because I wanted to be up there with them.”
He didn’t return to acting until 2021 in “Everything Everywhere” as Waymond Wang.
Thank you. My mom is 84 years old and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just want an Oscar. 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 is the American Dream.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much to the Academy for this honor of a lifetime. Thank you to my mom for the sacrifices she made to get me here. To my little brother, David, who calls me every day just to remind me to take good care of myself, I love you, brother. Thank you to Kendall for all your support and everything you’ve done. Thank you to A24, to Daniels, Jonathan, Jamie, Michelle, and my Goonies brother for life, Jeff Cohen. 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 my time will come.
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.