It’s been 36 years since The Goonies hit theaters, and one of the young stars of the movie is ready to make a comeback. Ke Huy Quan, who played Data, was just 14 years old when the adventure flick came out, and while it was only the second movie he’d ever been in, it was also the second major hit. Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was his first acting role, and considering his talent at such a young age, it seemed like Quan had a bright future in the film industry ahead of him.
And he stayed in that industry for a while. Quan went on to appear in several movies, was a regular cast member on Head of the Class, and continued to act into the early ’00s. Since then, he’s been off the Hollywood grid…until now.
In 2021, Quan returned to acting after almost 20 years away. Read on to find out what he’s been up to and to see what the former ’80s child star looks like today.
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Ke Huy Quan took a break from acting starting in 2002.
In 2002, Quan (who is also known as Jonathan Ke Quan) acted in his final project before taking a break from the screen that would last for nearly two decades. He played the role of Sing Wong in the Hong Kong film, Second Time Around, a time travel thriller set in Las Vegas.
Quan explained to UPI in 2012 that he decided to walk away from acting at the time because he realized he was more interested in what happened behind the camera rather than in front of it. Part of that had to do with being inspired by the first director he ever worked with: Steven Spielberg.
“I always loved acting, but when you get older and you’re going through adolescence, the roles are limited,” he said. “That’s one reason, and another reason is that I always found being behind the camera more satisfying. As a kid, I always wanted to be like Spielberg and to make wonderful movies.”
He became a stunt choreographer.
Quan’s passion for all things film production led him to attend the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and then the University of Manchester. He also continued the Taekwondo training he began when he was preparing for his Indiana Jones role. In addition to being an actor, he also became a stunt choreographer, working on X-Men, The One, and a short called Enigma. He’s also dabbled in producing and editing.
And as for his personal life? Today, Quan is 50 years old, and while he did confirm to UPI that he is married, there’s not much else out there about his home life. He does occasionally share updates (and plenty of Goonies throwbacks) with his fans on Instagram.
Quan can often be found at conventions celebrating his childhood roles.
Quan seems to fully embrace the fame he found starring in two beloved ’80s classics. He frequently posts flashback photos on his Instagram profile, and it looks like he’s still close with Goonies co-stars Sean Astin and Corey Feldman.
And if you love Quan’s work, you’re in luck: He regularly appears at conventions and expos, meeting and signing autographs for admirers who grew up with his characters. And judging by the pictures he posts from these conventions, it looks like it’s a lot of fun for him to catch up with old friends, too.
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Quan just ended his acting hiatus with Finding ‘Ohana.
In 2021, Quan made his big comeback in the Netflix original Finding ‘Ohana, which can definitely be seen as an homage to Goonies. The family-friendly film is about siblings who connect with their Hawaiian roots when they set out to find some hidden treasure during their vacation—treasure map and all. Quan plays the supporting role of George Phan, and director Jude Weng shared with Indiewire that the part had been written just for him.
As she tells it, Weng was discussing her movie with a friend while getting ice cream in Los Angeles, and Quan just happened to be there and overhear her comparing it to Goonies. They started chatting, and eventually, a character tailor-made for him was added to the mix. She also explained that it was meaningful for the Asian Pacific Islander cast and crew to see someone in person who had been one of the few sources of onscreen representation in their youth. (Quan was born in Vietnam and is of Chinese descent.)
“You should have seen the faces on our local crew when Ke Quan showed up on set,” Weng told the site. “He was an absolute star. Crew members were walking up to him with tears in their eyes, telling him how much they meant to him growing up as an Asian Pacific Islander and seeing that representation. So it was just a really profound moment and reminding all of us how representation matters so much.”
And it seems that Quan may have gotten a taste for acting again from Finding ‘Ohana. Next up, he’ll appear in the sci-fi movie Everything Everywhere All at Once alongside Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh.
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