Why Goonies And Indiana Jones Star Ke Huy Quan Returned To Acting After 20 Years

Ke Huy Quan’s life story sounds like something pulled straight from the movies. The actor starred in two of the most significant ’80s pop-culture touchstones that served to influence a generation of genre moviemakers, only to all but disappear after giving up on his dreams of acting in the ’90s. However, 2022 saw the Temple of Doom vet’s triumphant return to the big screen in the critically acclaimed (see what we thought) Everything Everywhere All at Once. Understandably, the Goonies star has been vocal about returning to performing after his 20-year hiatus, and it’s kind of a heartbreaking situation. 

Ke Huy Quan, now 51 years old, told People he never intended to be an actor, but he fell in love with the process after his time on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. After landing two high-profile parts in movies associated with mega director Steven Spielberg, Quan thought he was on the precipice of movie stardom, only for roles to dry up save for a few minor parts on television. The entertainer told the publication:

I thought that I was going to have this amazing career. It was tough. I was waiting for the phone to ring, and it rarely did.

In the early 2000s, Quan chose to avoid that particular avenue of disappointments, and quit acting, with the resignation to work behind the camera, often as a stunt coordinator (famously on X-Men) or second unit director. But, the star says he had a severe case of “FOMA” after seeing the success of 2018’s success story, Crazy Rich Asians:

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

The performer’s desire to be in front of the camera had returned, so he hired an agent. Through a series of unexpected events, the script for Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s genre-bending fantasy landed in front of Quan to read. The screenplay, he says, felt like it was tailor-made for him at that particular moment in his life because all three versions of the character felt very much like a part of him. He continued:

When I read the script, I thought it was written for me because they are me. I understood every single one of them. I don’t think I could have played Waymond had you given me the role 10 or 15 years ago, but, Looking back upon my life, all the highs and lows, I reached deep within me to pour my entire life into these three different characters.

If you have seen Everything Everywhere All at Once, you likely grasp how hard it is to imagine anyone but Ke Huy Quan in the role of Waymond. It’s a performance that brings so much heart, and its impact has been undeniable. Not only did it win over audiences, but it also landed the actor a Golden Globes win — he shared the winner’s stage with his Encino Man costar Brendan Fraser, who also took home some gold. The Golden Globe win perhaps kicked off the beginning of a fruitful awards season for the actor, seeing as there’s also been considerable Oscar buzz surrounding Quan

While it’s a long-term shame Ke Huy Quan has been away from the limelight for so long, it’s beyond great and encouraging to see his fairytale-like return to the big screen. If you’re a fan of the actor’s performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once, you may be interested in our list of what to watch next from the star. 

The Encino Man actor is set next to appear in the second season of one of the best Marvels television shows, Loki. 

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