The Ke Huy Quan comeback has reached its pinnacle, with the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 95th annual Academy Awards.
In his acceptance speech, the emotional winner gave a summary of his life story, saying “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow I ended up on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happened in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American Dream.” After thanking the cast and crew behind “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” plus his wife Echo and “Goonies” co-star Jeff Cohen, the actor, who had taken a decades-long break from the spotlight, concluded his speech by saying “To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”
The Best Supporting Actor win makes Quan the second ever Asian actor to win the category, and third Asian male actor overall to win an acting Oscar in the Academy Awards’ near-century long history. The actor had also won at just about every awards precursor, accepting a Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics Choice Award, Film Independent Spirit Award, and Gotham Award for his supporting performance. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” also won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble.
Quan played laundromat owner Waymond Wang in A24’s inventive multiversal dramedy helmed by writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and worked opposite fellow Oscar nominees Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis. In his review of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” IndieWire’s film critic David Ehrlich called the actor “a sublime revelation.” In noting how Waymond is both Evelyn (Yeoh) and the audience’s guide into the film’s conception of the multiverse, he also said “few characters have ever been saddled with this much exposition, and even fewer have done as much with it.”
Having famously starred in beloved films like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies,” Quan was disappointed in the lack of roles available to him as an Asian actor, so he took a break from life in the spotlight that ended up lasting nearly 30 years.
After doing decades of behind the scenes work on projects like “X-Men” (2000), where he was the assistant fight coordinator, Quan got inspired by the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018 (which also happens to star Yeoh), and began auditioning again, landing his “Everything Everywhere All at Once” role shortly after.
In an interview with IndieWire, as part of the Awards Spotlight video series, Quan described the amount of work he put into nailing the role, which called for him to portray several different versions of Waymond. Quan worked with everyone from a movement coach to a dialogue coach. “I haven’t spoken written dialogue in a long time,” said the actor.
Throughout awards season, Quan has expressed genuine surprise at how much the film has resonated with audiences. Reflecting back on when he was on set, before the film’s March 2022 opening, and subsequent 16 week run in the box office top 10, the actor said, “I kept thinking if our movie would make our money back, I will be so grateful already, because A24 or another movie company can see that ‘Oh, this is doable.’ And then they would greenlight more stories like this.” Now, as of last June, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is A24’s highest grossing film of all time.
Quan is even more struck by the emotional reactions he has seen from many a filmgoer. “We have all groups of people, all colors of people, all walks of life come up, and when they talk about our movie, I mean, it really resonated with them,” said the actor. “They would cry in the middle of the conversation about how much our movie has impacted them, impacted their life, and how it’s changed their life. That is something that we did not expect.”
While there is surely more to come now that he has an Oscar to his name, Quan has quite a few projects he has already wrapped post-“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” that are set to be released soon. First is the Disney+ fantasy series “American Born Chinese,” where he plays a character named Freddy Wong. That will be followed by Season 2 of the critically acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe entry “Loki,” though his role remains unknown as of yet. Lastly, Quan reunited with “Everything Everywhere All at Once” executive producers Anthony and Joe Russo in their next film “The Electric State,” which will be released by Netflix.