Ken Jeong Says ‘The Hangover’ Is the Weirdest Love Letter to His Wife
These days Ken Jeong might go by Dr. Ken, but a whole generation of people adore the actor as Korean gangster Chow in the movie The Hangover.
What isn't as well known is that Jeong's wife Tran was in the middle of a grueling chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer when he was offered the role.
Ken Jeong's Wife Tran Had Breast Cancer
Tran, a physician who practiced family medicine herself, noticed that she had a hard lump in her breast in 2007 as she was breastfeeding her kids — then-one-year-old twin daughters.
Ken Jeong with his wife Tran (Source: Instagram)
She had it looked at, but the unthinkable diagnosis only came a year later, in 2008.
During an interview with ABC News' Amy Robach, who is a breast cancer survivor herself, Tran recalled how strong her husband was in those trying times.
"I really needed that," Tran confessed. "But you know, I knew he was stressed out too."
Tran also shared how conflicted Jeong was when the opportunity to play Chow came around.
"And when the opportunity of The Hangover came up, he really worried about [it]," she recalled. "He said, ‘I don’t know if I should do this.'"
It's no surprise that the actor took up the role and played it to the best of his ability and even made it into a therapeutic experience for both him and his spouse.
Ken Jeong Improvised On-set for His Wife
The actor candidly revealed how he would improvise his lines in the movie and replace his non-English lines with Vietnamese phrases — inside jokes for his partner.
"I’m Korean and I was speaking Vietnamese in the movie," he shared. "I say ‘kai chee’ and all these things to get my henchmen to get out."
Only later did he reveal that "kai chee" was actually Vietnamese for "chicken die."
That wasn't the only instance either. He had sprinkled inside jokes for his spouse throughout the length of the movie without even telling anyone on set. Everything just so he could make Tran laugh in a difficult time.
In his words:
It’s like the weirdest love letter to your wife in a very filthy movie.
And, it worked!
"It would just make me laugh," Tran added.
Tran Was Cancer-free by the End of 'The Hangover'
The movie was also a sort of milestone for the couple because Tran was declared cancer-free following the filming of The Hangover.
The actor, who quit a career in medicine to become an entertainer, celebrated the milestone when he received an award at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.
"I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife Tran," he said at the awards ceremony whilst fighting back tears.
"The reason why I did this is that she taught me that life is short, and don’t be afraid to take chances," he added. "And I want to tell you that Tran is cancer free for two years."
As the interview at ABC drew to a close, Tran recalled that she suffered the ordeal for a whole year before she was cancer-free.
Then again, the moment that her doctor broke the news to her that the treatment would take a year was what she considered one of the best things she'd heard since she was diagnosed.