LOS ANGELES — Ke Huy Quan had mostly disappeared from Hollywood for over two decades, dispirited by the lack of on-camera work for Asian Americans. He returned in a big way, winning the supporting actor Oscar to cap an inspiring comeback story.
Quan accepted the trophy Sunday night for his role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” becoming just the second Asian winner ever in the supporting actor category, joining Haing S. Ngor for “The Killing Fields” in 1984.
He kissed the trophy's head and got a standing ovation. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” he said, adding he started in a refugee camp and ended up in Hollywood. “This is the American dream.”
Quan rode a huge wave of momentum into the Oscars, having won every major award except the BAFTA. Quan endeared himself during acceptance speeches as much as he did in his winning performance. He used his position to encourage other struggling actors that one day they also will find success.
Along the awards show trail, the enormously likeable Quan compiled a photo album for the ages as he posed for selfies with everyone from Tom Cruise to directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. It seemed anyone famous was happy to smile or make funny faces alongside Quan.
The Vietnam-born actor whose family immigrated to California in the late 1970s first gained attention as a pre-teen in the hugely popular 1980s movies "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and “The Goonies.” He went on to roles in the TV show “Head of the Class” and the movie “Encino Man” (starring fellow Oscar nominee Brendan Fraser ) in the early 1990s before work dried up.
Finding few on-camera opportunities, Quan turned elsewhere. He earned a film degree from the University of Southern California and worked behind the scenes as a stunt coordinator and assistant director.
Inspired by the success of the 2018 movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” Quan returned to acting and landed an audition for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which earned a leading 11 Oscar nominations. His former “Goonies” co-star, Jeff Cohen, serves as his lawyer who drew up the contract for his Oscar-winning role.
Now, people stop him to talk about a movie he made as a grown-up, “Everything Everywhere All at Once."
As Waymond Wang, Quan appears in three different incarnations in the critically acclaimed film. He won a Golden Globe and became the first Asian man to win an individual category at the SAG Awards.
The 51-year-old Quan is busy juggling new roles, including joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe series “Loki” on Disney+.
Quan won the Oscar over fellow nominees Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan of “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brian Tyree Henry of “Causeway” and Judd Hirsch of “The Fabelmans."