Harrison Ford Wanted A Character Like Short Round In Star Wars, According To Ke Huy Quan

All aboard the Ke Huy Quan-aissance. It's been almost 40 years since Quan made his auspicious debut as a child actor (credited as Jonathan Ke Quan) in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Quan was 13 years old when the movie hit theaters, and he was living the dream of any '80s kid: playing Harrison Ford's sidekick in a Steven Spielberg film.

When we first meet Quan's character, Short Round, in "Temple of Doom," he's behind the wheel of a getaway cab, but his legs aren't even long enough to reach the pedals so he has to wear elevator shoes. Now, those legs are throwing kicks at mall security guards as the 50-year-old Quan wields a fanny pack like nunchucks in Daniels' new film, "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

In "Everything Everywhere All at Once," Quan plays Waymond Wang, husband to Michelle Yeoh's protagonist, Evelyn, who finds herself jumping from the IRS office across the multiverse in what's been described as "a tax-season 'It's a Wonderful Life.'" The role is a comeback one for Quan, whose only other acting credit in the last 20 years was "Finding 'Ohana" in 2021.

Over the years, Quan has worked behind the camera as an assistant director and a fight choreographer on Asian films, but seeing him back onscreen and all grown up in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" might vindicate the inner child of anyone who grew up living vicariously through his adventures in "The Goonies" and alongside Indiana Jones. While looking back on his career, Quan recently tweeted a photo of him and Ford on the set of "Temple of Doom," writing, "Me and Harrison Ford just chilling before he said he wished there was a character like me in Star Wars."

"Temple of Doom" came out the year after "Return of the Jedi," the final film in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. When Ford said he wished there was a character like Quan in "Star Wars," it's possible that he just meant a nice kid. But it's also possible that he meant an Asian character, something "Star Wars" did not really have until Kelly Marie Tran played Rose Tico in "The Last Jedi."

Quan and the continuum of Asian representation

In the Special Edition of "Return of the Jedi," Dalyn Chew, an actress of Asian descent, did get screen time as one of the dancers in Jabba the Hutt's palace. But she did not have any lines, and two years later, the first "Star Wars" prequel, "The Phantom Menace," faced criticism for ethnic stereotypes. Kelly Marie Tran also weathered the brunt of some online hate from disgruntled fans (and/or Russian trolls) after "The Last Jedi," but her character endures as part of a continuum of Asian representation in Hollywood, of which Quan and his pioneering work in "Temple of Doom" and "The Goonies" are also a part.

In an interview with GQ (via Indiewire), Quan recently discussed how the success of "Crazy Rich Asians" in 2018 gave him some "serious FOMO" and made him want to return to acting. His performance blazed a trail for other Asian actors, but some of those same actors he inspired would, in turn, inspire him. He explained:

"Over the years, I've met a lot of Asian talent now working in Hollywood. They always thank me and say, 'Man, it was so great to see you up there on the screen, because I was able to see myself. Thank you for paving the way for us to be here.' And, of course, it's really interesting because they've paved the way for my return. My return to acting is the direct result of the progress made by them."

He concluded by saying:

"It proves how important it is for not just Asian, but for all groups of people to be represented in entertainment, because like you said, until you see yourself, until you see it, visualize it, you still can't believe that it could also be you up there on the screen. So that's why I am so grateful for what has happened the last few years. It's happened gradually, but I'm very optimistic and very hopeful about where things are going."

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" is in theaters now, and you can stream "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" on Paramount+.