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Robert Downey Jr. Dubbed ‘Villain Of The Oscars’ After Snubbing Ke Huy Quan

Iron Man was no hero Sunday night. 

Robert Downey Jr. is getting backlash on social media for appearing to disrespect Ke Huy Quan at the 96th Academy Awards.

This year, the prestigious ceremony decided to revive an old tradition by inviting five past acting winnersto present the awards in their respective categories to this year’s winners. Since Quan won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category last year for his turn in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” he presented the award for the category Sunday night.

In a clip from the ceremony, Quan looked very excited when he announced Downey as this year’s winner. But as Downey walked onstage to receive his award, the “Oppenheimer” star failed to acknowledge Quan’s presence in any capacity. Quan approached Downey with the trophy, Downey took it without making eye contact with him and then proceeded to shake hands with other people onstage. What makes Downey’s behavior appear especially callous is that Quan can be seen making attempts to get Downey’s attention, but is ignored.

Viewers on social media were immediately annoyed by the snub, and some expressed their disappointment on X, formerly Twitter, Sunday night. Some even compared it to Taylor Swift’s seemingly rude behavior towards Celine Dion at the Grammy awards last month.

Although Downey was later photographed hugging Quan when he spoke to the press after winning the award, Downey’s behavior was a stark contrast from Quan when the “Indiana Jones” alum won the award in 2023.

Robert Downey Jr., winner of the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for “Oppenheimer,” and presenter Ke Huy Quan hug in the press room during the 96th Academy Awards Sunday.
Robert Downey Jr., winner of the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for “Oppenheimer,” and presenter Ke Huy Quan hug in the press room during the 96th Academy Awards Sunday. Arturo Holmes via Getty Images

Quan immediately embraced both Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur, who presented him with the award, when he walked onstage. 

Considering Downey’s long and turbulent Hollywood career — which includes issues with substance abuse that hindered it for years — many of Downey’s fans also stuck up for the actor on social media, saying he appeared “flustered” and “overwhelmed.”

Downey and Quan chat and shake hands in the Oscars’ press room after Downey’s win.
Downey and Quan chat and shake hands in the Oscars’ press room after Downey’s win. Handout via Getty Images

And although Downey finally received an Oscar after being nominated two other times for his roles in 2009’s “Tropic Thunder” and 1993’s “Chaplin” — Quan has just as much of a compelling Hollywood redemption story as Downey.

After making a splash as a child actor in iconic movies like 1985’s “The Goonies,” his acting career floundered due to a lack of film roles for Asian actors, and he began working behind the scenes as a stunt coordinator and assistant director. 

It should be noted that a recent study by the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media — that surveyed API individuals who work in Hollywood — found that 80.9% of respondents said they have experienced microaggressions, 55.6% reported blatant racism and 72.5% said they’ve experienced tokenization. An Asian X user even noted that Emma Stone treated Quan’s “Everything Everywhere All At Once” co-star, Michelle Yeoh, the same way Downey did when she received her award Sunday for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

A month before winning his Oscar in 2023, Quan told Stephen Colbert that before “Everything Everywhere All At Once” was released, he “was auditioning left and right” to no avail.

“And what was interesting was I could not get a single job. Not one callback. Nobody wanted me,” Quan said.

He added that he’s “so grateful” that “EEAAO” revived his acting career. 

“I thought everybody had forgotten about me,” Quan said. “But since the movie came out, there’s been so much positivity and so much kindness.”

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