Oscar nominee Ke Huy Quan didn't tell his family he was cast in 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' until he finished the film
Ke Huy Quan kept his acting return in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" a secret from his family.
Quan told the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast he wasn't sure if he was "gonna be any good."
He recalled how hard it was to land jobs after childhood roles in "The Goonies" and "Indiana Jones."
Oscar nominee Ke Huy Quan has received critical acclaim for his performance in the multiverse film "Everything Everywhere All at Once," but he initially kept the role a secret from his entire family until well after he finished filming the A24 hit.
"I didn't tell my mom. I didn't tell any of my siblings or my nephews or nieces. Nobody. After I got the role of Weyman in 'Everything Everywhere,' I made the entire movie without them knowing," Quan recently told journalist Josh Horowitz on the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast while speaking about his career.
Quan, who starred in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "The Goonies" as a child, said he kept the "Everything Everywhere" news from his family up until the day before the film's first trailer was released in December 2021.
"It was just my wife, my agent, and my lawyer, who is Jeff Cohen, who's Chunk in 'The Goonies' with me," Quan said of the only three people who knew he was cast in "Everything Everywhere." "I was so afraid. I didn't know if I was gonna be any good at it. I didn't know if I was gonna get fired."
"The day before our trailer dropped, I called my mom and I called my family and I said, 'Hey, I got a little bit of news to share with you," Quan said. "I'm an actor now. I just made this little movie and the trailer's gonna come out tomorrow."
At the time, his family watched the trailer, they were "very happy" with it, and that was that.
When the movie was finally released three months later, "Everything Everywhere" became a critical and financial success. Grossing over $100 million, the film is A24's highest-grossing movie to date.
Quan has won over 50 awards for his multi-layered role in the film as a husband whose life is seen across multiple parallel universes, allowing the actor to give a range of performances.
After screening the film, Quan received a phone call from his parents. They were shocked to learn how much their son downplayed his role.
"They call me and the first thing they say was, 'Ke! Wow. You know, I didn't even know — You're in this movie a lot,'" he said. "They thought it was just a small role and I said, 'Yeah, I'm in this movie a lot.' And they go, 'You're like one of the leads.'"
"They were so, so happy for me," Quan continued. "To be able to share all of this with them. Seeing their reaction of how happy I am now is an incredible feeling."
For Quan, his return to Hollywood has been a long, difficult journey.
During the 43-minute conversation with Hororwitz, Quan emotionally detailed how hard it was for him to find work after starring in both "The Goonies" and "Indiana Jones" in the late '80s and '90s, describing the lack of roles available for Asian American actors.
"I was waiting a year, a year and a half between jobs," he said. "If you look at my resume, some of those jobs were just minor characters. I would wait a year and a half and I would work for a week and I would wait for another year before I would get another opportunity to audition."
When his peers told him they had multiple auditions per week, it prompted him to reach out to his agent. But he'd always be told the same response: "Sorry, there's nothing there. But I'll keep checking and I'll call you if there is something that comes up."
At one point in his early 20s, Quan recalled being "so hungry" for a role that he auditioned against about 30 other Asian actors for a nameless Vietcong role with two lines of dialogue.
He didn't get the part.
"It was a gradual decline and what was painful for me was my family, knowing what I was going through," Quan said of the lack of auditions and rejection while fighting back tears.
At one point, Quan was offered to join the family business back in Texas as an alternative to acting.
"They would always see me just waiting and waiting for an opportunity and they were very supportive. They were very caring," Quan said. "They would say, 'Hey Ke, is there anything else you want to do? Do you want to come up to Houston, Texas with us and join the family?' and I would always say, 'No, no. I want to give this some more time and see if something would change.'"
After failing to land roles, he transitioned to a life behind the camera, often helping to choreograph fight scenes in films including 2000's "X-Men." After watching 2018's "Crazy Rich Asians," Quan decided to give acting one more shot before he called it quits.
When Quan was offered the part in "Everything Everywhere," he decided to keep it to himself because he wanted to make sure it all came together.
"They saw my passion. They saw my struggles. They've been so supportive. They've always been there for me," Quan said of his family.
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