In perhaps the single most expected result of this year's Oscars, Ke Huy Quan has officially won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his beloved comeback performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once, which also notches its first award in what might be a big night for the A24 action film.
He was greeted by a theater-wide standing ovation and had to wait for the clapping to subside before he could begin his emotional acceptance speech.
"My mom is 84 years old. She's at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!" Quan began, holding up his trophy, his eyes full of tears.
Quan continued, "I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow I ended up here, on Hollywood's biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it is happening to me. This is the American dream!"
Quan first broke into Hollywood as a child star playing Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data in The Goonies, but basically retired from acting afterward for lack of good roles available to Asian actors in Hollywood. He spent subsequent years doing work behind the camera, working as a stunt coordinator on the first X-Men film and helping Wong Kar-wai as assistant director on 2046 (fitting, since part of his multiversal performance in Everything Everywhere evokes Tony Leung in Wong's iconic film In the Mood for Love).
Quan thanked Jeff Cohen, "my Goonies brother for life," in his speech. Cohen played Chunk in The Goonies, but like Quan eventually he left acting behind for other adjacent work. In Cohen's case, he became an entertainment lawyer and handled Quan's contract for EEAO.
ABC Ke Huy Quan wins Best Supporting Actor at the 2023 Oscars
In recent years, as films and TV shows created by and for Asian Americans like Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat have gained more traction in Hollywood, Quan decided to return to acting — just in time to link up with directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (a.k.a. the Daniels) for their dimension-hopping, action-packed family film.
Quan dove into the meaty role of Waymond Wang, a sweet but dopey husband to protagonist Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh). But because of the EEAAO jumps through multiple realities, Quan also had to portray alternate versions of Waymond — including a badass martial artist from the "Alpha" universe and a more suave, romantic one from a world (stylized with green hues as an homage to Wong's filmmaking) where Evelyn never left China. In order to fully differentiate the various incarnations of his character, Quan worked with an acting coach, a voice coach, and a body movement coach. All that hard work has finally paid off.
Quan also thanked his wife Echo in his speech, saying he owes "everything" to her. "Month after month, year after year, for 20 years, [she] told me that one day my time will come," he said. "Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To everyone out there, please keep your dreams alive!"
Even with EEAAO now in the rearview mirror, Quan's acting career is fully revived. His upcoming projects include roles in season 2 of Loki, the upcoming Disney+ adaptation of Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel American Born Chinese, and the Russo brothers' sci-fi film The Electric State.
"For the last 38 years, people would always say, 'You're the kid from Indiana Jones!' 'You're the kid from The Goonies!' I'm grateful for those movies," Quan previously told EW. "But to be recognized [for] something you've done as an adult is an incredible feeling."
In securing the Oscar win, Quan beat out competitors Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for The Banshees of Inisherin, Judd Hirsch for The Fabelmans, and Brian Tyree Henry for Causeway. With the exception of Hirsch, all of them are first-time nominees.
The 95th Academy Awards are airing live Sunday night from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles. Check out the full list of winners.
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