One of the great feel-good stories of 2022 is Ke Huy Quan’s return to acting. After emerging as a child star in the 1980s with his performances in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies,” the actor has spent the past decades out of the spotlight, often working behind the scenes on Hong Kong action films. His comeback performance in the Daniels’ “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has made him a frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, as he has won the equivalent prize at virtually every early award show this season.
In a new appearance in The Hollywood Reporter’s Actor Roundtable, Quan reflected on the unlikely set of circumstances that led to him getting the “Everything Everywhere” script right after deciding that a return to acting was worth pursuing.
“It was at the same time that I called up an agent friend of mine,” Quan said. “I didn’t have an agent for decades, so I was practically begging him to represent me, and he said yes. Two weeks later, I got a call about this script, and an audition. The Daniels were gracious enough to send the script over so I could prepare, and I read it and was blown away. I was so hungry for a script like this, for a role like this. I remember reading it until 5 a.m., and in my head I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do with this role.”
Quan continued, “I was looking out the window, the sun was rising, and I said, ‘I have to go to sleep,’ because my audition was in the afternoon. It had been more than 25 years since I’d auditioned — I was so nervous, I was shaking. The Daniels were so sweet. Sarah Finn, the casting director, was amazing. And then I didn’t hear from them for two months. I was miserable because I wanted this role so bad. Finally, I went to audition for a second time, and then that phone call came. I was screaming so loud. I was jumping up so high. And to this day, I still cannot believe how everything came to be.”
Once he had the part, he turned to an unlikely source to negotiate his contract. He ended up being represented by Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk in “The Goonies” before establishing himself as a lawyer, turning the negotiation into an impromptu reunion.
“Jeff Cohen, who was in ‘The Goonies’ with me — he was Chunk — is all grown now and he’s an entertainment lawyer,” he said. “When the producer of our movie was trying to make my deal, he said he never imagined that he’d have to talk to Chunk and Data for his movie.”