Everything Everywhere All At Once star Ke Huy Quan seems like he’s living his best life right now; during a recent press day for the new A24 film, he’s downright giddy just to be talking to the press. “It’s been a really exciting time for me,” he says. “Ever since the trailer came out, and now the movie getting to come out the response, the reception has just been incredible. I’m so overwhelmed with joy right now. I’m really happy.”
It’s a very human reaction that feels truly in line with the nature of the film, which is in a lot of ways about just what it means, to live a human life. Written and directed by the filmmaking team known as Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Everything Everywhere stars the legendary Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, whose humdrum life taking care of her family and struggling laundromat business gets completely upended when she learns about the existence of alternate universes — universes where alternate Evelyns have lived very, very different lives.
While Quan famously played two iconic roles in the 1980s as a kid — Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’s Short Round and The Goonies’s Data — but moved away from acting after struggling to find any good roles that wouldn’t typecast him due to his ethnicity. But as Evelyn’s husband Waymond, at least in one universe, Quan got to play a wild range of Waymonds, and also lean on his decades of experience working in martial arts and stunts for some breathtaking sequences, including the soon-to-be-iconic “fanny pack scene.”
In the below interview, transcribed and edited for clarity, Quan goes into detail about how intense the fanny pack fight was to shoot, due to the level of difficulty as well as the shooting schedule. He also details why he doesn’t think he could have played the role of Waymond before now, and if he had a favorite variant of the Waymonds he played.
I read the recent profile of you in Vulture before this interview, which was a lovely portrait that also answered my question about why you have a fight choreography credit on the first X-Men film.
Yeah, when I had to make the difficult decision to step away from acting because of a lack of opportunities, that’s what I did. I love movies so much, and I love the process of making movies. So I enrolled myself in film school, and after graduating from it, one day I got a call from this amazing action choreographer named Corey Yuen in Hong Kong. And he called me, and he says, “Hey Ke, do you wanna come up to Toronto with me and work on a little movie?” It was right after graduation, and I didn’t know what it was. So I flew there, and I walked on the set and it was X-Men.
Corey kind of took me under his wing — I was his assistant action choreographer because of my martial arts background, I studied Tae Kwon Do for many years, and so to be able to do that with him and to learn from him, to have him mentor me in how to put an action sequence together and how to shoot it and how to look at it from different angles of it — it was incredible. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.