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Short Round's portrayer reflects on 'Temple of Doom' adventure

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Sept. 23, 2012 at 6:52 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Jonathan Ke Quan, the Saigon-born actor who played the adorable, pint-sized sidekick Short Round to Harrison Ford's titular archaeologist in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," says the 1984 action picture was every bit as much fun to make as it is to watch.

"It was my first movie, so I'd never been on a movie set before and we went to these beautiful, exotic locations," the 41-year-old former child star told United Press International in a recent phone interview.

"It was very different making movies back then versus making movies today. We shot a lot of the movie in London and they built these amazing sets. It wasn't blue screen," he noted. "Everything was built. Everything was fantastical, so for a kid to be a part of that was amazing. It was like a playground. The only thing I didn't like as a kid was I was required to do a minimum of 3 hours of schoolwork everyday and there was a tutor on set. But every day I was so looking forward to going on the set and seeing how they make the movie. So, it was just fantastic. It was like play time. It was fun all the way."

The newly restored 1982 picture "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as well as the 1984 prequel "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and sequels "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" [1989] and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" [2008] were all released on Blu-ray for the first time last week. In addition to the blockbusters,

the "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures" set also includes 7 hours of documentaries, featurettes, and interviews with cast members and filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Among the highlights on the Blu-ray collection is the new two-part documentary called "On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark." Part 1 is "From Jungle to Desert" and Part 2 is "From Adventure to Legend."

Asked if it seems odd to be talking about "Temple of Doom" nearly three decades after he made it, Kuan told UPI: "It is. It's very surreal. It seems like everywhere I go, people always talk about 'Indiana Jones' and I realized over the years it has made a huge impact on their childhoods. ... I feel very fortunate to be a part of this."

Kuan, who also appeared in the 1985 Spielberg-produced family flick "The Goonies" and as a teen in the TV sitcom "Head of the Class," confessed he didn't realize at the time he was making "Temple of Doom" how famous Ford, Spielberg and Lucas were.

"I didn't know it was a sequel to 'Raiders.' And at that time I hadn't seen 'Star Wars' or 'E.T.' or 'Jaws,' so I didn't know how big they were until way after the movie," Kuan recalled.

"Back then, I was so innocent and naive," he added. "We made the movie in 1983 and I had just gotten to the [United] States not long before, so I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of movies. I didn't know how famous Steven, George and Harrison were at the time. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. All I knew was we were going to make this amazing movie, go on this very fun adventure with the warmest family you can imagine. I didn't know it was going to be this huge movie the following year."

The actor went on to graduate from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Now married and an accomplished martial artist, he has worked as a stunt choreographer for the films "X-Men" and "The One."

So, was it a conscious decision to move away from acting once he became a young adult?

"I always loved acting, but when you get older and you're going through adolescence, the roles are limited," he explained. "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. Even when I was making 'Indiana Jones,' I was looking at how he would come up with these amazing shots and how he would choreograph the blocking and all that. So I knew from early on I would go to film school and try to work behind the camera."

Questioned about whether he was asked to reprise his role of Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," Kuan confirmed there was some talk about it, "But it didn't work out."

"One day I got a call that Steven would like me to come in and do a cameo, so I don't know what the cameo was or what I was supposed to do, but there was talk of a cameo."

Although he said he hasn't seen "Temple of Doom" in its entirety for years, catching only clips of it on TV now and then, he said he is looking forward to seeing it in its new high-definition incarnation.

"I can't wait to see it on Blu-ray," he said. "I heard it looks amazing."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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