Ke Huy Quan wins the Oscar in an inspirational Hollywood comeback

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ke Huy Quan had mostly gone from Hollywood for over two decades, discouraged by the lack of on-camera work for Asian Americans. He returned in a big way, winning supporting actor Oscar to cap an inspirational comeback story.

Quan accepted the trophy for his role in on Sunday night “Everything everywhere at once” He became only the second Asian winner ever in the Supporting Actor category, appearing opposite Haing S. Ngor in 1984’s The Killing Fields.

When his name was announced, Quan rose and hugged co-stars Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, who were honored after him as supporting actresses. He put his hands over his mouth.

“My mother is 84 years old and watches at home,” Quan said. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!”

An emotional Quan repeatedly kissed his statue and sniffled into the microphone on stage after receiving a standing ovation. Presenter Ariana DeBose was in tears.

“My journey began on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said. “They say stories like this only come out in the cinema. I can’t believe this is happening to me. This is the American Dream.”

Quan rode a huge wave of momentum into the Oscars after winning every major award except BAFTA. Meanwhile, Quan made himself popular acceptance speeches as much as he did in his winning performance. He used his position to encourage other struggling actors that one day they too will find success.

Along the way to the awards ceremony, the hugely likeable Quan compiled a photo album to last a lifetime as he posed for selfies with everyone from Tom Cruise to directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. Apparently every celebrity was happy to smile or pull funny faces next to Quan.

The Vietnam-born actor, whose family immigrated to California in the late 1970s, first attracted attention as a teenager in the hugely popular 1980s films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies. He then went on to land roles in the TV show Head of the Class and the film Encino Man (with Oscar nominee Brendan Fraser ) in the early 1990s before work dried up.

Quan found few opportunities in front of the camera and turned elsewhere. He earned a film degree from the University of Southern California and worked behind the scenes as a stunt coordinator and assistant director.

“I owe everything to the love of my life, my wife Echo,” he said, “who for 20 years has been telling me month after month, year after year that one day, someday, my time will come.” Dreams are something to believe in. I almost gave up mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

Inspired by the success of the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, Quan returned to acting and landed an audition for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which earned him an award leading 11 Oscar nominations. His former “Goonies” co-star Jeff Cohen is serving as his attorney, who drafted the contract for his Oscar-winning role.

“Thanks to my ‘Goonies’ brother for life, Jeff Cohen,” Quan said.

Now people stop him to talk about a movie he made growing up, “Everything Everywhere at Once.”

As Waymond Wang, Quan appears in three different incarnations in the critically acclaimed film. He won a Golden Globe and became the first Asian to win a single category at the SAG Awards.

Quan, 51, is busy juggling new roles, including starring in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Loki on Disney+.

Quan won the Oscar ahead of fellow nominees Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan from The Banshees of Inisherin, Brian Tyree Henry from Causeway and Judd Hirsch from The Fabelmans.


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