Ke Huy Quan is living a dream.
On Sunday night, the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and this week he’s on the cover of Variety.
Talking about his big win, Quan says, “I’m still processing it. I didn’t have much sleep last night — I think it was only an hour. When I woke up, I took a minute or two wondering whether this was a dream. But I’ve been doing that a lot lately, because so many things have happened this past year and it feels surreal.
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The actor admits, though, “I’m so worried that this is only a one-time thing.”
He also talks about the support he received from his wife, who told him over the years, “your time will come,” which he mentioned in his acceptance speech.
“At times, I was frustrated with her,” Quan says, tearing up. “I told her, ‘You keep saying that, and it’s never going to happen.’ I didn’t believe it. Twenty years isn’t a short time.”
Quan also got support after his big win from Steven Spielberg, who directed him in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” as a kid.
“You are now an Oscar-winning actor,” the director told him, putting his hands on his shoulders.
Fans were also delighted to see Quan’s reunion with his “Indiana Jones” co-star Harrison Ford when the actor presented “Everything Everywhere” with the Best Picture award.
“When he opened that envelope and read the title, it made our win for Best Picture even more special. And when I ran up onstage, I pointed at him and he pointed back at me and I gave him a hug,” Quan says of the heartwarming moment. “I just couldn’t help myself. I just want to shower this man with all my love. I gave Harrison Ford a big kiss on the cheek.”
After starring in a number of films as a kid and young adult, Quan stopped being able to land roles, and he admits he wrongly blamed himself for a long time.
“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 recalls. “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.”
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Sharing the advice he got from Cate Blanchett, Quan says, “I told her that I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I feel I have a responsibility to do something good, and that I don’t want to disappoint all the people that have supported me. And she said, ‘Just go with your heart and be irresponsible: Don’t worry about what other people think. Choose something that you believe in, choose something that you love, and things will work out.’”
Quan also opens up about his personal story, and how far he’s come since his family fled Vietnam in the ’70s.
“I was just a normal kid in Vietnam in 1978, and all of a sudden my parents decided to flee the country. I didn’t understand what was happening. All I knew was I was separated from my mom, from my little brother and a couple of my sisters. It was in the middle of the night when my dad, five of my siblings and I escaped in a boat. We got to Hong Kong, and I was in a refugee camp surrounded by guards and police officers for an entire year until we were granted political asylum. Then I got on a plane and landed for the first time in Los Angeles. This was in 1979,” he says.
“I didn’t have the maturity to process the sacrifices that my parents made so that we could have a better future. And as fate would have it, four years later, I landed a job on ‘Indiana Jones,’ which changed my life,” Quan continues. “I always wanted to thank my parents for what they did, but I grew up in a family where we just don’t share that kind of emotion with each other. And then last night I did that publicly. I wanted the world to know how much my parents meant to me. Also, our movie, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ is about this immigrant family. That’s why the story resonated with me so much.”