Former Indiana Jones star Ke Huy Quan delivers an endearing message following his Oscar victory
We are accustomed to sanctimonious, arrogant, and entitled Hollywood superstars using award ceremonies to wallow in self-pity and perceived victimhood, or to whine about social issues that matter to them but are of little consequence elsewhere, and to attack their political opponents and their supporters.
The toxicity has amplified considerably after November 2016, when Donald Trump won the presidency. Consequently, the viewership for these award ceremonies has dropped drastically
Enter Ke Huy Quan, who presented a refreshing change to that disgraceful tradition.
Audiences will recognize him as Harrison Ford's young sidekick Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985).
Few know that it wasn't Quan, but his younger brother who attended an open casting call for Short Round. Quan was merely accompanying his younger brother.
But there was something about the 12-year-old Quan that stood out. The makers thought he would be the perfect foil for celluloid's most famous adventurer-archaeologist.
Hence, Quan, not his brother, landed the role.
The following year, in 1986, Quan starred as one among the group of misfits who discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate's long lost treasure in Richard Donner's The Goonies.
But showbiz of not just about star quality or talent; it is luck.
The first bit of luck is that a filmmaker or a producer spots talent and casts the individual in his movie or TV series.
The second bit of luck is that the film or TV series, upon completion, turns out exactly the way the makers envisioned.
The third bit of luck is that audiences appreciate and remember the actor's performance, perhaps leading to either box office success or awards, or perhaps both.
The fourth bit of luck is that the role causes a sufficient impact that producers and filmmakers seek the actor in their future projects.
The fifth bit of luck is that the subsequent projects are successful, and that leads to stardom.
Alas, in Quan's case, luck wasn't always on his side.
For almost 30 years, Quan was turned away at countless auditions, causing him to doubt his choice of career.
He attended the famed USC film school.
He even accepted odd jobs, such as that of a fight choreographer on the first X-Men picture in 2002.
He assisted the great Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai at his production company, Jet Tone Films, for the film 2046. This is where Quan met his wife Echo, who gave him constant support and motivation during his numerous moments of despair.
Quan had almost given up on acting but was inspired to return to it, inspired by the success of Crazy Rich Asians in 2018.
"I saw it three times in the theater; I cried every single time," Quan said. "But one of the reasons why I cried was because I wanted to be up there with them."
That very year, filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert began casting for their sci-fi adventure fantasy Everything Everywhere All at Once.
They struggled to find an actor in the role of Waymond Wang, a doting husband who helps save the multiverse while trying to keep his failing marriage and family together. It required someone with skills in acting and martial arts, preferably in his early fifties.
Then Daniel Kwan learned about Quan on Twitter. Weeks later, Quan successfully auditioned for the part, and by January 2020, he was announced as a cast member of the picture.
The film was released in March 2022 to overwhelming acclaim, with Quan's performance receiving unanimous praise and media attention.
Quan ended up with trophies for the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit, the Critics Choice, the Screen Actors Guild, and the most important of them all: the Oscars.
Most contemporary 'stars' would have used an Oscar win to vent their frustration and anger about their career slump. They would have made it about their race, or would have talked about discrimination, and delivered another lecture about diversity, with all the buzzwords.
But not here.
Quan, who was overcome by emotion, struggled to speak and gave a shoutout to his 84-year-old mother.
''My mom is 84 years old and she is at home watching. Ma, I just won an Oscar.
"My journey started on a boat," Quan said, referring to his family fleeing from Vietnam in 1978 in the middle of the night to Hong Kong
"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's happening to me. This, this, is the American Dream."
Quan was referring to the refugee camp in Hong Kong where his family lived for an entire year until they were admitted to the U.S. under its refugee program for political asylum.
By 1979, he landed in Los Angeles.
Six years later, he was starring in a film alongside Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg, both of whom happened to be present that night.
"Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive. Thank you so much for welcoming me back. I love you."
To sum it up, Quan was grateful to his country, happy about his win, and sending an inspiring message to everyone.
During an interview with Variety magazine after his Oscar win, Quan explained his motto in life, which explained his positivity at the Oscars.
"I was taught never to blame anybody. If something doesn't go the way you want, it's either because you didn't work hard enough, you weren't good enough, or you didn't try hard enough."
He never complained or engaged in self-pity.
"So when I couldn't get a job, I blamed myself: I thought I wasn't tall enough, I wasn't good-looking enough, or I wasn't a good enough actor because I wasn't classically trained. I never blamed anybody — even to this day."
"We talk about Asian representation, but I don't like to look at the past and say, 'Oh, my God, how bad it was!' I'd rather focus on the present and moving forward. A lot has changed."
When asked if he was disappointed that Stephen Spielberg didn't cast him in any movies after Indiana Jones, Quan responded as follows: "I was secretly hoping. But honestly, Steven has given me so much — not one movie, but two movies. And they were the first ones to put an Asian face in a big Hollywood movie.
Quan was part of another very sweet moment at the Oscars.
When Harrison Ford announced that Everything Everywhere All at Once had won the Oscar for best picture, Quan was the first to rush to the stage and hug his co-star from almost 40 years ago.
Congratulations kid! #KeHuyQuan #BestSupportingActor #AcademyAwards #Oscar #HarrisonFord #IndianaJones pic.twitter.com/Vt6H9HCNJ7— Finding Ford 🎬 (@FindingFord) March 13, 2023
Hopefully, this marks another great inning for Ke Huy Quan.
Hopefully, his inspiring message will earn him myriad meaty roles that suit his talent.
Hopefully Hollywood will enable a nice guy for a change.
Postscript: CNN's ratings-deprived Don Lemon, who foolishly claimed that women past their 40s are past the prime, received a kick in the rear that night.
Image: Screen shot from ABC video via YouTube.