Ke Huy Quan on Everything Everywhere All at Once and Coming Back to Acting

Everything Everywhere All at Once - 03 (Large)
Credit: A24

Everything Everywhere All At Once is out in theaters, and at the time of this writing, it has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and fans. The film follows Michelle Yeoh, a mother and wife who discovers she has the power to reach into other universes and grab skills from her other selves. Playing her husband is Ke Huy Quan, known for playing Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data in Goonies. We had the chance to chat with the actor about his latest film.

Ke Huy Quan Full Video Interview

Nerd Reactor: How did that come about with the Daniels. Did they reach out to you? What was the idea behind it? And where were you when this happened?

Ke Huy Quan: For the last six years now, this is how long it took to get this movie made. They were writing the script. And I was basically working behind the camera. And it was not until 2018 that a little movie called Crazy Rich Asians came out. And that really got me thinking about returning to acting again. I got myself an agent. And two weeks later, this project came along.

And I remember reading it for the very first time, I was so emotional. I mean, I was laughing really hard. But I was very emotional because this was the script that I wanted to read many, many, many, many years ago. It just didn’t exist before. And some of the roles that were being offered at that time were so small and so stereotypical, that it wasn’t fun to act again. So for me, to read this and find out that it features a Chinese American family was incredible. I loved it so much, and I really wanted to be a part of it. I called my agent and said, “Please, let’s do everything we can to land this role.”

I’m grateful to the Daniels for giving me this amazing opportunity to play not just one character, but three characters. I feel like I made three movies in one. To star with Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the amazing James Hong was all a dream come true. It’s beyond my imagination. To have this movie as my comeback movie, oh my God, I am so overwhelmed with emotions right now. And I’m still planning to see how all of this came to be.

Everything Everywhere All at Once - 04 (Large)
Credit: A24

When you’re reading the script, did you ever have reservations, like, “What is going on? This is crazy. This is all over the place! It’s wacky!” Or from the moment you started reading, “It’s the best thing I’ve read so far.”

Ke Huy Quan: Honestly, first of all, I was warned. And I was asked to watch the first movie before reading the scripts. I watched Swiss Army Man. I cried; I laughed. I was totally immersed in a story about a corpse that farts throughout the entire movie. And I said if they can get me to like this movie with that outrageous concept, they can do anything. Then I sat down, and I read the script, and I got it. I understood it. It was funny. It was extremely original and highly inventive. It’s a big science fiction action dramedy, but yet at the core of it, what’s really special is that it’s about this family with relatable issues.

With intergenerational trauma for the husband and wife, they’ve been disconnected after many years of marriage and have grown apart. That family, that core value about love and family and connection, that’s what really drew me to this story. And it’s highly entertaining. So when I read it, it was just one of the best scripts that I’ve ever read. That was my first impression. And this was right before I had to go in and audition for the Daniels. You can imagine how nervous I
was.

You had the fight with the fanny pack and you really pummel people. What was that like, just going in there on the set and just being a badass?

Ke Huy Quan: Well, first of all, when you do a movie with martial arts with Michelle Yeoh, who is the frickin queen of martial arts movies, you really need to step up your game and be as good as she is. So for me, I trained with our stunt team for many weeks. It was a lot of fun. I also have a martial arts background, I was also doing stunts and action choreography with Hong Kong director Corey Yuen for many years, so I was quite familiar with the process. Yeah, but the only big difference is when we do those movies in Hong Kong or on X Men, we have the luxury of time. And that is something that we didn’t have on this.

The fanny pack sequence we shot over a day and a half, including all the drama and the dialogue leading up to it. So it was really tight. Credit to our DP Larkin [Seiple] and the Daniels for knowing exactly what they want, and the amazing stunt team that had prepared me and trained me. When it was time to do it, we had like over 70 shots to cover in one single day. And every shot, every piece of the action, we can only do it in two or three takes. It was a lot. There was a lot of pressure that came with it. Honestly, we just have the most amazing crew, and it was a lot of fun. I’m so proud of how everything turned out.

The interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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