Ken Jeong’s journey to Hollywood has been anything but conventional.
The 45-year-old recently revealed he auditioned for the part of Mr. Chow in The Hangover because he needed a distraction as his wife, Tran, battled cancer.
“Tran encouraged me to do it,” he said of his decision to go for the hilarious role — his biggest to date — in the 2009 blockbuster. “She thought I was suffering from caregiver burnout.”
At the time, Ken wasn’t only assisting Tran, but he was also raising their twins, who were only a year old at the time.
Since he was caring for two young children and a wife facing the fight of her life, he wasn’t able to deal with his pent-up frustrations at home. Instead, he channeled his anger — from seeing his wife’s health decline — into his character.
Ken, Tran and their daughters Zooey and Alexa in 2013.
And that’s how Mr. Chow, with all his maniacal greatness, came to be the unforgettably furious and funny character viewers came to know and love.
These days, life is a little different for the actor, Tran and their children.
Ken has found tremendous success in Hollywood — his work in the first ‘Hangover’ movie helped him secure an MTV Movie Award, he was cast in the beloved TV show ‘Community,’ and he can be seen in theaters now in ‘The Duff.’
Ken first became involved with various organizations, including Stand Up To Cancer, after he gave an emotional speech about Tran’s fight during his acceptance speech at the MTV Movie Awards in 2010.
Most importantly of all, his wife has been cancer-free for six years.
“She’s just a pillar of strength,” Ken told the ‘Associated Press.’ “She’s my biggest inspiration because she handled it with such grace and strength and class. Even if I wasn’t married to her, I’d be in awe of her.”
To help others who have fought — or are currently fighting — this debilitating disease, Ken has worked with PBS and filmmakers to bring the documentary ‘Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies’ to life.
For more information, visit CancerFilms.org.
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