Indiana Jones Actor Makes Surprising Revelation About Steven Spielberg

Ke Huy Quan, known as Short Round in Indiana Jones, still receives a Christmas gift every year from Steven Spielberg.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Almost forty years after the release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Ke Huy Quan still receives a Christmas present from Steven Spielberg every year. The actor, who is best known for playing Short Round in the action-adventure film, made the revelation in an interview with The Guardian. “He gave me my first job and, so many years later he has not forgotten me,” the former child star told the outlet.

“Every time I needed help, he’s always there,” the 51-year-old added. Quan also explained how he landed the coveted role by accident. Living in the Chinatown area of Los Angeles, the soon-to-be child star didn’t even plan to audition for the Steven Spielberg movie. He only went to the open casting call to support his little brother. But the casting director suggested he should try out, too.

Steven Spielberg
Short Round in Indiana Jones

“I remember doing a really bad job because my English comprehension was very minimal at that time,” Quan said. But the next day, his mom got a call from Steven Spielberg’s office. So she dressed him in a three-piece suit and took him to meet the legendary director. After noticing how uncomfortable the child was, the filmmaker told him to come back the day and to wear something more comfortable.

Three weeks later, Quan was on a plane to Sri Lanka to start filming “It was one of the happiest times of my life,” he told The Guardian. Looking back on the role, the actor describes Short Round as a groundbreaking character. “Steven Spielberg was the first person to put an Asian face in a Hollywood blockbuster,” he said.

At the time, the role represented a huge step forward for Asian representation. “It was a rarity then. For many years after that, we were back to square one,” he explained. After Indiana Jones, Steven Spielberg gave Quan his next major role as Data in 1985’s The Goonies.

He also co-starred as Jasper Kwong in the 1990s sitcom Head of the Class over two seasons. But after constant rejection and being pigeonholed into stereotypical Asian roles, he stopped acting and went to college instead. Quan later received a film degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and found success as a stunt coordinator and assistant director.

Although he was happy behind the camera, much like Steven Spielberg, the 51-year-old couldn’t ignore that something was missing. And when he noticed that Asian actors were getting more opportunities, he decided to get back into acting. Since then, Quan has made an impressive comeback in the critically acclaimed Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The project, from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, was a huge success with critics and viewers. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie still holds a 95% critic and 89% audience score. It also crossed the $100 million mark at the box office. Additionally, Quan recently wrapped filming for the second season of Marvel’s Disney+ series Loki. Despite his newfound success and continued friendship with Steven Spielberg, Quan says he was insecure about his return to acting.

“For a long time and always felt like he wasn’t good enough,” the 51-year-old explained. Every time he lost a job to someone else he took it very personally. But he says he finally understands that everything needed to happen the way it did. “Just don’t give up,” Quan said of his newfound fame. Hopefully, there’s a part for him in a new Steven Spielberg project sometime in the future.