Indiana Jones Star Ke Huy Quan Explains Why He Stopped Acting For 20 Years: ‘It Was Hard’

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Ke Huy Quan was only 12 years old when he was offered to audition for “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. It was a decision that changed his life forever.

A few years ago, Quan and his family arrived in Los Angeles from their native Vietnam. A casting director overheard the preteen sparring with his brother and asked if he wanted to try out the 1984 action-adventure film starring Harrison Ford. Quan booked the role of trusty sidekick Short Round.

“Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that I would end up becoming an actor,” the 51-year-old told People magazine for its latest issue.

“But I fell in love with it,” Quan said. “This movie changed my life and that of my whole family.”

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Kate Capshaw holds Ke Huy Quan to a broken bridge in a scene from the film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
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Kate Capshaw holds Ke Huy Quan over a broken bridge in a scene from ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’.
(Paramount/Getty Images)

Quan admitted he was initially intimidated working alongside Ford and director Steven Spielberg. Still, the two stars put the child actor completely at ease.

“They were so kind, humble and down to earth,” Quan said. “Just loving people, human beings, who only treated each other with kindness. I have such fond memories of working on it. We spent three weeks in Sri Lanka. We were hanging out by the pool. Harrison taught me to swim.”

After her screen debut, Quan starred in another classic, 1985’s “The Goonies.” At first, Quan believed “I was going to have this amazing career.” But Quan only landed a few minor television and film roles. He was offered stereotypical roles aimed at Asians.

The fame was gone as soon as it came.

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Harrison Ford, Ke Huy Quan and Kate Capshaw on the set of the film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," 1984.

Harrison Ford, Ke Huy Quan and Kate Capshaw on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984.
(Paramount/Getty Images)

“It was tough,” Quan admitted. “I was waiting for the phone to ring, and it rarely did.”

Quan said that in the early 2000s he made the “very difficult decision” to quit acting. Instead, he immersed himself in his studies and graduated from USC film school. He then concentrated on working behind the scenes as an assistant director and stunt coordinator.

But 20 years later, Quan saw 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians” and was inspired to revisit his first love.

“I was happy working behind the camera, but I had some serious FOMO,” Quan told the outlet. “I wanted to be up there with my fellow Asian actors!”

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Ke Huy Quan attends the East West Players 56th Anniversary Visionary Awards at City Market Social House on April 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Ke Huy Quan attends the East West Players 56th Anniversary Visionary Awards at City Market Social House on April 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Araya Doheny/Getty Images)

Today, Quan stars in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” where he plays three versions of a character named Waymond Wang, a loving husband who travels across multiple universes in an attempt to help his wife (Michelle Yeoh) save the world.

“When I read the script, I thought it was written for me because they are me,” he explained. “I understood every one of them. I don’t think I could have played Waymond if you had given me the role 10, 15 years ago. Looking back on my life, all the ups and downs down, I reached deep inside to pour my whole life into these three different characters.”

Quan said he was aware that audiences would remember him best from his two ’80s hits as a child star. However, he can’t wait to see what Hollywood has in store for him today.

“For many years people only recognized me as a child [actor] because that was pretty much the last time they saw me on screen,” he said. “I hope when people see me now, they’re like, ‘Oh my God! Waymond from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ – and you were in ‘Indiana Jones’ too [and] ‘Goonies!'”

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