Back in 1983, dozens (hundreds?) of young Asian boys from around North America lined up to audition for the role "Short Round" in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The part of Indy's scrappy sidekick eventually went to Jonathan Ke Quan, squashing dreams of stardom and Spielberg for a lot of hopeful kids.
One of those boys was filmmaker Nobu Adilman, who auditioned for the role of Short Round when he was 11 years old. Long story short: he didn't get the part. "I tanked.. hard," he says.
Fast-forward three decades. Now all grown up, Nobu recently launched Short Round Up, an epic search to find all the Asian guys who also auditioned to play Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Spielberg and Co. held open auditions in major cities across the U.S. and Canada. Nobu auditioned in Toronto, which had a huge turnout. Did you audition for Short Round back in 1983? Nobu wants to hear from you:
If any of the below relate to you email me at:
You auditioned for the role of “SHORT ROUND.”
You were a casting director of the auditions held across the U.S. and Canada to find Short Round. Or you know someone who did.
You know Steven Spielberg, people in his camp. You are Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, or one of the screenwriters of the film! Or you are Jonathan Ke Quan, the actor who portrayed Short Round in the movie. Let's talk!
You know where the audition tapes are archived. You know the sides aspiring actors read at the auditions. You know anything, anything!
You are a celebrity who felt the impact of this role on pop culture. I’ve got questions for you!
The project is a 15-minute short film, with the hopes of eventually turning it into a feature documentary.
I love it. This isn't just about the search for Short Round rejectees, though that sounds pretty interesting. I can't wait to hear all about that process. This is also about what the character of Short Round represented for a generation of young film fans: an Asian kid adventuring alongside the hero in a major Hollywood movie.
(We can also have a separate discussion about all the outrageously racist imagery in Temple of Doom, a movie that plagued our South Asian brothers and sisters with schoolyard stereotypes for years.)
For many of us, Short Round was a rare glimpse at seeing ourselves represented on the silver screen. Sure, Nobu and a lot of other boys didn't get the role, but for a moment, a lot of us lived vicariously through Jonathan Ke Quan, who went on to star in The Goonies and Head of the Class, and eventually became an action choreographer for Hong Kong and Hollywood productions.
Let's help Nobu make this film. If you were one of the many boys who auditioned for the role of Short Round, or if you know someone who did, get in touch with Nobu and help spread the word. For further information about the project, visit ShotRoundUp.com and follow updates on Twitter.