Here is a short video featuring Steven about his time on The Walking Dead.
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Steven Yeun plays an unjustly terminated lawyer fighting to get his job back while wading through a building full of virus-infected employees in “Mayhem.”
While Steven Yeun has made a name for himself fighting zombies, his career since leaving “The Walking Dead” has been thriving. Since leaving the TV show, Yeun has been eager to show his versatility: working in both television and film in the U.S. and South Korea and taking on unconventional roles. “I’m just trying to understand who I am,” Yeun told NBC News. “So while this is available to me, I’ll keep doing as many different things as I can.”
Yeun can next be seen in the upcoming film “Mayhem,” which is scheduled to open in select theaters and online on Nov. 10. The horror-action follows a corporate attorney (Yeun) who, after being unjustly terminated, fights to get his job back while wading through a quarantined building full of virus-infected employees. The production was a change of pace for Yeun after seven seasons of “The Walking Dead.”
“I wanted to experience what it was like to film a horror movie,” Yeun said. “Doing a TV show for seven years is wonderful, it brings you the beauty of structure that I love, but it was fun to just jump into something I had no idea how it was going to be.”
He said his character, Derek Cho, was the most “real” part of the film, responding like a real person would when newly fired and fighting through an office building. Yeun added that those kinds of real Asian-American characters probably wouldn’t have existed a few years ago.
“I’m glad that Derek Cho gets to exist,” he said. “In all of his ugliness, all of his beauty, all of his weakness, and all of his best moments — I wanted to render a full character who was equally good as he was sh*t.”
After “The Walking Dead,” Yeun appeared in 2017 Netflix film “Okja” as the bilingual K, who acts as the translator between a young Korean girl and a team of animal rights activists. He is currently in South Korea filming “Burning,” an adaptation of the Haruki Murakami short story “Barn Burning.” Directed by Lee Chang-dong, the movie centers around a mystery surrounding a missing woman and a man who claims to be an arsonist.
“I think inherently, I won’t want to do something that isn’t true to me,” Yeun said about his choice of roles. “If it seems like it’s a clichéd role that has me being the model minority or a weak character, then I might look at that and think, ‘is it even saying something that I want to say?’ If not, then I don’t feel like doing it, ‘cause I would not want to live as that character for a while.”
Yeun can also soon be heard as the lead in two animated films. In “Chew,” which does not yet have a release date, he is slated to voice Tony Chu, an investigator who gets psychic visions from the food — including human — he eats. In “The Star,” scheduled to be released Nov. 17, he is slated to voice “Bo the Donkey.”
While “Chew” with its flesh-eating protagonist might be within the realm of what Yeun has done in the past, “The Star,” which depicts the first Christmas from the point of view of animals, might strike some as unexpected.
Yeun said that he knew that there were going to be “broad strokes painted” on the film because of its Christian themes, adding that he enjoyed participating in the film because it encouraged kids to be themselves and do things other told them they couldn’t.
“For me, that’s the thing I want to say,” Yeun said. “With ‘Mayhem,’ there’s a thing I want to say. Every kind of film that I’ve been a part of, I’ve been lucky that it says what I kind of want to say — and that is lot of different things.”
Steven Yeun had several critical roles on the set of Okja, the new satire now streaming on Netflix: Not only did he play K, one of the radical environmentalists that kidnaps the movie’s titular super-pig, he also acted as a translator for much of the American cast when the production was in Korea, where Yeun was born and spent his early childhood.
“It was a very meta experience overall,” Yeun told Inverse in a recent conversation, looking back on the shoot with both fondness and maybe a bit of Inception-like wonder. Yeun, now 33, took the role in Okja because it was written for him by writer/director Bong Joon-ho, who is best-known in the United States for the 2013 dystopian flick Snowpiercer. The filmmaker is a legend in Korea, a Palme d’Or-winning auteur who makes genre movies packed with meaning — and a very deceptively dark ending.
Okja, which premiered at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme in May, is no exception. In the movie, which was co-written with Jon Ronson, a mega-corporation called Mirando — which is about as loved as Monsanto — uses GMOs to create a race of gigantic, meaty pigs and in an attempt to win back public goodwill gives ten of them to young people across the globe, to raise in natural habitats for a decade. One of them, a happy swine named Okja, becomes a beloved companion for a young girl named Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), who in turn becomes determined to save the pig when it’s taken back by Mirando and its goofy CEO (Tilda Swinton). K is a member of the PETA-like group that travels to Korea to liberate Okja and infiltrate Mirando, and their adventure leads to a comedy of errors, cultural misunderstandings, corporate espionage, and emotionally devastating moments.
Yeun spoke to Inverse about returning to Korea to make the film, working with Bong Joon-ho, and another fan-favorite graphic novel adaptation that hangs in the balance.
Steven gave an amazing interview for Variety and they also released a new photoshoot. You can read it below and check our gallery.
2017 > SESSION 05 – VARIETY
Steven Yeun has excellent taste. I can tell you this because the morning he came in for his photo shoot, he was wearing an indigo-dyed car coat that I had long coveted from Blue Blue Japan. He also told me what molding paste I should use for my hair, and gave me a recommendation for a Korean restaurant with some of the best galbi-jjim (braised ribs) in Los Angeles. But perhaps the best proof of Yeun’s taste came during this past TV pilot season, when he was offered a number of lead roles, from a CIA guy on the run to an ex-cop who lives in a postapocalyptic world to a “non-stereotypical genius.” He turned them all down.
“It was hard to say no to those things, because that meant precedents I couldn’t set,” Yeun told me over breakfast after a photo shoot at the New York offices. “But then I read more and asked, Does this speak to me, [to] who I am?” and I said, ‘No.’ So I didn’t do it.” He’s patient enough to wait for the right project — like his newest one, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, which stars Yeun as K, a radical animal-rights activist who serves as the bridge between his English-speaking group and Mija, the Korean protagonist. Over the course of a few hours, Yeun talked to Vulture about how Bong Joon-ho wrote the Okja role for him, why he thought The Walking Dead’s Glenn didn’t get a fair shake, auditioning for a five-line part, and fighting low expectations.
STEVEN Yeun has swapped zombies for a cuddly super pig in his latest film role. The Walking Dead star plays an animal rights activist in Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s eclectic Netflix action adventure drama Okja.
Bong wrote the character K, a Korean-American animal lover with technical expertise, specifically with Steven in mind.
“When you’re signing on to a Bong film you know what you’re getting into, which is something deep and beautiful but at the same time poignant and fun,” he tells Weekend.
“For me it was just about getting to work with him period.”
The film follows a headstrong girl, Mija, who has spent 10 years raising her pet super pig, on loan from a multinational company, in the idyllic mountains of Korea.
But when the company takes back its property for the much-touted super pig competition, Mija risks everything to rescue Okja.
“Luckily we didn’t have just a tennis ball to work off of,” Steven says of the CGI-animated animal.
“We had a great, near-sized depiction of Okja puppeteered by a couple of people, which helped us really realise and see what we were working with.”
Viewers first meet K when he and a ragtag team of animal “liberators” arrive in Seoul to kidnap Okja. As the only Korean speaker in the group, it’s up to K to translate for Mija.
As a South Korean native who emigrated with his family to Canada and then the US, Steven says he could relate to K’s unique position.
“We wanted to make sure he was very Korean American; someone who bisects both cultures but doesn’t fully belong to either one,” he says. “If you’re a Korean American you have a very specific experience other people might not have and this is a really wonderful exploration into that.
“His duality is part of all of his decisions. He’s doing the right thing but he’ll use not great tactics to get that done. I always like to imagine he’s probably a guy who sneaks a burger here or there on occasion.”
While he’s not advocating that anyone stops eating bacon, Steven hopes the film reinforces the importance of knowing where your food comes from.
“The film spoke to me about our relationship with nature as a whole and how we interact with the natural world,” he says.
“Some people can’t tell the difference about where their steak comes from; they might as well believe steak grows on trees. That’s not a great place to be.”
Okja is available to stream on Netflix now.
Steven sat down with “LIVE with Kelly and Ryan” to talk about his upcoming movie, Okja, and also talked about how he got his legal name, his newborn son and Glenn’s death in The Walking Dead. You can watch the full interview below and find screencaptures on our gallery: