Ke Huy Quan thought ‘nobody wanted me,’ until critical acclaim changed Hollywood’s tune

A man with short dark hair and thick black glasses in a dark green blazer smiling
Ke Huy Quan at the 95th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Everyone loves a good comeback story, and actor Ke Huy Quan is reveling in his.

Weeks after Quan earned his first Oscar nomination for his work in 2022’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the 51-year-old actor told late-night host Stephen Colbert that his return to screen has been an “emotional journey.”

“I’m so grateful. I thought everybody had forgotten about me,” he said during Tuesday’s episode of “The Late Show.” “But since [“Everything Everywhere All at Once”] came out, there’s been so much positivity and so much kindness.”

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Quan, a child actor who first gained popularity in 1984 as Short Round in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” told Colbert earlier in the interview that he faced multiple dry periods during his career. After “Temple of Doom” and other films including “The Goonies,” Quan said he struggled to find work.


“When you work with with Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas you can’t go anywhere but downhill from there and that’s exactly what happened,” he joked Tuesday.

Even when he returned to the screen in recent years, jobs were few and hard to come by. After wrapping Daniels’ “Everything Everywhere All at Once” in March 2020, Quan said he “could not get a single job.”

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“Not one callback. Nobody wanted me,” he said.

Quan said he worried for his acting career.

“I was experiencing everything I experienced as a kid,” he added.

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Now with a Golden Globe win, an Oscar nomination and more accolades under his belt, Quan looks forward to more work, including a spot in Season 2 of Disney+’s “Loki.”

“Honestly, things are so different for me now than they were back then,” he said.

At the beginning of his interview, Quan told Colbert he missed the opportunity to meet and take a selfie with the late-night personality at an awards show in January. Sitting opposite Colbert on “The Late Show” just weeks after the event, Quan said “this is much better.”

“As they say,” he said, “‘Good things come to people who wait.’”