Ke Huy Quan Landed His Everything Everywhere All At Once Role With An Assist From One Of The Goonies

In a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail, actor Jeff Cohen recalled the disheartening experience of growing up in Hollywood. Jeff Cohen might be best known for playing the role of Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen in Richard Donner's 1985 adventure film "The Goonies," a nostalgic mainstay for kids of a certain generation. In the interview, Cohen talks about how being typecast as a "funny fat kid" left his choice of roles limited, and that he was constantly competing for the same parts with only a few other notable actors. He ended up retiring from acting at a young age, and eventually went into entertainment law. Donner helped Cohen pay for law school. These days, he runs the Cohen Garner Law Group, and wrote the book "The Dealmaker's Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood." He specialized in helping actors and Hollywood players negotiate deals. 

Cohen, now 48, was able to ply his trade recently for his "Goonies" co-star Ke Huy Quan. As fans of Donner's films know, Quan played the plucky inventor Data when the actor was just 13. Quan had come to prominence the previous year with his appearance in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and continued to work throughout the 1980s and 1990s in various notable roles. Quan played regular roles on the American TV shows "Together We Stand" and "Head of the Class," and the Chinese series "The Big Eunuch and the Little Carpenter." In 1998, Quan retired from acting to attend college. 

In what has been a widely touted comeback story, Quan returned to the big screen in 2022 in Daniels' acclaimed film "Everything Everywhere All at Once." 

But although the "Goonies" co-stars hadn't worked together in a long time, Quan, as revealed in a roundtable with the Hollywood Reporter, negotiated his contract for his big comeback film with Cohen's legal expertise.

The Facebook joke

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" is, for those who are unfamiliar, a multiple-universe thriller wherein a laundromat owner (Michelle Yeoh) finds herself aware of, and able to traverse, multiple dimensions. She is enlisted to fight a supervillain, also her daughter, who aims to undo the multiverse with pervasive despair. In keeping with its multiverse setting, Quan plays multiple roles throughout "Everything," usually serving as Yeoh's husband or lover. In one iteration, he is a capable martial artist. In another, he is a dashing, lovelorn businessman straight out of "In the Mood for Love." 

Quan shared his Hollywood Reporter roundtable with performers from other notable 2022 feature films, including Colin Farrell of "The Banshees of Inisherin," Austin Butler from "Elvis," Jeremy Pope from "The Inspection," Brendan Fraser from "The Whale," and Adam Sandler from "Hustle." Quan talks about how an errant Facebook post was what caught the eye of the Daniels, and led them to give the actor a phone call. It seems that Quan had kind of been awaiting an opportunity. He said:

"Daniels saw somebody do a joke on Facebook — a picture of [politician] Andrew Yang with the caption, 'Short Round is all grown up and he's running for president.' Which triggered them to go, 'Oh, I wonder what Ke is doing.' They started doing the calculation, 'Oh, he's about the same age as this character.' It was at the same time that I called up an agent friend of mine. I didn't have an agent for decades, so I was practically begging him to represent me, and he said yes. Two weeks later, I got a call about this script, and an audition."

The timing, it seems, was perfect.

The 25-year audition

Quan reveals he hadn't auditioned for a role in 25 years, and was as nervous as ever. He loved the script for "Everything," however, and longed desperately for it to mark his comeback. When he got a callback, Quan was elated. He had an agent, he had a role — now all he needed was a lawyer to negotiate a contract for him. Quan, as it turns out, knew a guy. He was quick to mention Cohen by name, as well as other coaches who helped him get into his various roles. As he tells it:

"Jeff Cohen, who was in 'The Goonies' with me — he was Chunk — is all grown now and he's an entertainment lawyer. When the producer of our movie was trying to make my deal, he said he never imagined that he'd have to talk to Chunk and Data for his movie. Anyway, then I did the whole thing, too — hired an acting coach, a dialogue coach, a voice coach — because I'm playing three different versions of the same character. I also hired a body-movement coach, and he'd pick different animals for me to practice as."

When Sandler asked Quan if he got a good deal thanks to Cohen, Quan plainly stated: "Jeff is an outstanding lawyer."

There is certainly a sweetness to their connection. Two actors who worked together as kids reuniting in their late 40s to work together again. Like in "Everything Everywhere," human interconnectivity is key to the very functionality of the universe. Quan doesn't mention if he and Cohen were close friends now or merely respectful, professional colleagues, but the fact that they were able to work together decades after meeting as kids speaks to a long-term, poetic link. You love to hear it.