Steven Spielberg gave Ke Huy Quan his first movie role at 13 years old when he got cast as Short Round opposite Harrison Ford in 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Flash forward 38 years and Spielberg is still sending Quan a Christmas gift every holiday season. Quan, who is currently making the awards season press rounds in support of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” revealed the heartwarming tidbit in a new interview with The Guardian.
“He gave me my first job and, so many years later, he has not forgotten me,” Quan said. “Every time I needed help, he’s always there.”
Spielberg kept Quan’s child acting career burning bright by landing him his “Indiana Jones” follow-up role in 1985’s “The Goonies,” where Quan played the James Bond-loving Data. Spielberg executive produced the Richard Donner-directed adventure movie.
“On ‘Indiana Jones’ I was the only kid, so I got all of the love and attention,” Quan told The Guardian. “On ‘The Goonies,’ I was one of seven, so I was constantly fighting for attention. But it was something that was very familiar to me – my parents had nine kids. It was a lot of fun, especially those amazing sets. Going to work was like going to the playground.”
Quan added earlier in the interview, “Spielberg was the first person to put an Asian face in a Hollywood blockbuster. Short Round is funny, he’s courageous, he saves Indy’s ass. That was a rarity then. For many years after that, we were back to square one.”
Earlier this year, Quan went viral for reuniting with Harrison Ford for the first since their “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” days. The two actors took a photo together at D23, where Ford was on hand to promote the fifth “Indiana Jones” movie and Quan was promoting “Loki” Season 2.
“We were at the D23 event and I was told Harrison was gonna be there,” Quan told The New York Times last month about the reunion. “We’re in this green room with so many actors, producers, and directors, and the person who was assigned to assist me said, ‘Harrison Ford is right outside the green room. Would you want to go say hi?’
“As I get closer, he turns and points his finger at me, and he has that classic, famous, grumpy Harrison Ford look,” Quan continued. “I go, ‘Oh my gosh, he probably thinks I’m a fan and he’s gonna tell me to not come near him.’ But he looks and points at me and says, ‘Are you Short Round?’ Immediately, I was transported back to 1984, when I was a little kid, and I said, ‘Yes, Indy.’ And he said, ‘Come here,’ and gave me a big hug.”
Quan returned to the movies this year with his role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” for which he is a contender to earn an Oscar nomination for supporting actor. Spielberg is also in the Oscar race for his latest directorial effort, “The Fabelmans.”