On this episode we're gonna talk about an actor who got his big break playing a "plucky pizza delivery guy" turned badass survivalist in The Walking Dead for six long seasons. He then went on to play a wide range of characters in critically acclaimed movies such as Nope and Minari. The latter, which he was also an executive producer and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, which also made him the first Asian American to do so. If you haven't put the pieces together, we're talking about Steven Yeun.
Miguel: This is They Reminisce Over You. I'm Miguel.
Christina: And I'm Christina. We wanted to take a minute to make a small request of all our listeners. If you're listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Goodpods or Podchaser, leave us a five star rating. You can also leave a review as well on Apple, Goodpods and Podchaser. Ratings, and reviews will help us with discoverability. And we want to get this out to as many like-minded folks as we can.
Miguel: We wanna get on the first page of these podcast apps.
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Christina: Thank you again for your support. You ready to get into the show?
Miguel: Let's do it.
[theme song plays]
Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You. I am Miguel.
Christina: And I'm Christina. And today we're gonna talk about an actor who got his big break playing a “plucky pizza delivery guy.”
Miguel: A plucky pizza delivery guy?
Christina: Yes. Turned badass survivalist in The Walking Dead for six long seasons. He then went on to play a wide range of characters in critically acclaimed movies such as Nope and Minari. The latter, which he was also an executive producer and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Which also made him the first Asian American actor to do so, which is kind of crazy in the 2020s.
Miguel: It is.
Christina: He's also done voiceovers for animated series, and I was checking his IMDb and he has three more projects upcoming for 2024. So he is booked and busy. And if you haven't put the pieces together, we're talking about Steven Yeun.
[both mimics air horns]
Christina: And after watching many interviews, it's Yeun and not “Yoon,” which I and many others probably have been saying for a while. And I get it. As a person who has two vowels in my last name that people wanna pronounce and don't need to. I get it. So, I'm like, “yun” make sure to say “yun” and not “yoon.”
Miguel: Exactly. Yeah, I saw him talking to David, not David Letterman, but uh, Conan O'Brien about that.
Miguel: And he says that he has a cousin who has started mispronouncing it as well, so that's funny.
Christina: Well, I watched that interview with Conan first, where he's like, “I have something to tell you. You've been saying my name wrong this whole time.” So, when I was watching the old interviews with him and Conan, I like cringed every time I heard. Conan say “yoon.” I'm just thinking about him just sitting in there like, ugh, that's not how it said, and I'll, I'm just gonna be nice and not say anything.
Miguel: Right. Just suck it up.
Miguel: So, let's get into what you mentioned earlier. His first role that I knew him for, and probably you as well, playing Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead.
Christina: Yes. And the reason why I called him the “plucky pizza delivery guy,” because that seems to be how he's described whenever I read these little synopsis.
Christina: Plucky. He was plucky, his first words to Rick was, “Hey you, dumb ass.” When I was looking at his IMDb, just to look at what I've seen. I actually forgot that the first time I saw him in anything was Walking Dead. I think 'cause he's had such like a whirlwind of projects over the last few years—
Miguel: Yeah, after leaving The Walking Dead, he's been in a lot.
Christina: Yeah. So, before we get into that, let's go back to The Walking Dead. So, of us first met him as the plucky pizza delivery guy. So, when I kind of re-watched a few episodes of The Walking Dead, I didn't realize that he was actually starting from the very first episode. I thought he came later.
Miguel: No, that I did remember. I didn't remember that he was the second person after Morgan. I thought he was the first person that Rick talked to.
Miguel: But I forgot about Morgan and Duane.
Christina: Yeah. So, if there was no Morgan and no Glenn. There would be no Rick.
Christina: ‘Cause they both saved his ass.
Miguel: They did. In different ways.
Miguel: But Glenn was probably more of a help to Rick because he was in a real bad situation.
Miguel: So, hearing him on the walkie-talkie like, saved his ass big time.
Christina: Yes, 'cause he was just about to—oh no, no—I was about to say he was just about to kill himself, but that was before he climbed into the tank.
Christina: But then he probably would've thought about it again 'cause he was trapped in the tank.
Christina: Until he heard a voice say, “Hey you, dumb ass.” Did you get a chance to review any of this? Because the first season aired in what, like, 2010? So, it's been a minute.
Miguel: Yeah, I only watched the first two, well, a little bit of the first two when you were watching it, and I didn't watch anything else. I remember a lot of it.
Miguel: I did a quick synopsis read on Wikipedia just to kind of refresh my memory, to see what I was remembering from the comic versus the TV show. But I did remember that he was always like, used as bait.
Miguel: Which I had an issue with. Sometimes he did volunteer for it, but why did Glenn have to be the bait all the time?
Christina: Sometimes he didn't though. Okay. So, I watched a couple episodes from the first three seasons.
Christina: And the first two seasons they kind of treated him like a kid.
Christina: And like, Daryl was literally calling him “kid” all the time.
Christina: Because they were hatching this plan to go find Daryl's brother, Merle. And, he was a pizza delivery guy, so he knew the city.
Christina: So, he was like, we should zip over here, go over here, do that, and blah, blah, blah. And then Daryl was just like, “Hey kid. What did you do before this?” He's like, “pizza delivery guy.” So, that made him important though, because he was quick and he knew the city and he could kind of like, run in and out. But yeah, they definitely treated him like he was just like, oh, a precocious kid.
Christina: Even though he was an adult. And I mean, the character was pretty true to the comic, but I do think the TV show kind of, maybe played that up a little bit more than they needed to.
Miguel: Yeah, it was.
Christina: And like you were saying, they literally used him as bait in an episode in season two when they lowered him into this well.
Miguel: Yeah, I always had a problem with that episode—
Christina: To get a zombie out.
Miguel: Because even if you get the zombie out, right?
Miguel: He's been in that well for who knows how long, so, the water's already messed up anyway. So, what's the point of taking him out of the well, and you're still gonna—
Christina: And using your like, runner—
Christina: Basically like, without Glenn, like, he's the one who's running out and getting all these supplies —
Christina: And you're gonna use him as bait?
Miguel: That made no sense to me. Like, the water's still contaminated.
Miguel: So, what are you gonna do? At that point, just dig another well.
Christina: And also the way him and Maggie got together on the TV show. They were doing a run together and he's kind of all, the nervous guy around a pretty girl, right? And then she's just like, I'll have sex with you. And he's like, really? And then she says, “It's not like our options are vast these days.” I'm like, excuse me.
Christina: Like, you didn't have to to paint him like that though.
Christina: And then she turn—he turns into the love of her life afterwards where she just trying to avenge his death forever. But it was like, nah. He was like, your last option. And you told him that to his face.
Miguel: To his face.
Christina: Which was stupid. I do feel like that was unnecessary. And I think, you know, he's Asian. I'm sure that's these leftover tropes of how TV and film treats Asian men who are, usually not, they're not like, masculine characters, right?
Christina: Just like the one Black character in that season. his name was T-Dog. And I'm like, why does he have this dumbass…
Christina: Nickname. And everyone else just gets to be like Merle and Daryl, whatever. And like, you got T-Dog outta nowhere who's not in the comic book. So, yeah, it did feel a little like, ugh. Why, why did they have to make him like that?
Miguel: Yeah. But as time went on, he probably became like the most important member of the team because he was the one that got shit done most of the time.
Miguel: And was levelheaded about it. Unlike Rick and Daryl who are always hot and cold and you never know what you're gonna get from them. Glenn was pretty much levelheaded most of the time.
Christina: Right. And I, I'm wondering if like, he as an actor himself, kind of—because by the time season three rolled around, he wasn't like, the plucky kid anymore.
Christina: He was like, no, I get shit done. He's out here killing zombies and—
Christina: Getting outta sticky situations. ‘Cause I was watching an interview with him, I don't know which season this was, but there was a scene where he's just like, fighting off the zombies and after he kills them all, he just screams really loud. Ahhhh!
Miguel: Oh yeah. That was, I don't remember the season, but he was strapped to a chair.
Miguel: And he was in a room by himself.
Christina: And had to fight them while he was strapped to a chair.
Miguel: Yeah, I remember that.
Christina: Yeah. And uh, in the interview he said that last final scream was improv.
Christina: That wasn't written. And the director, I think was just like, yeah! So, I think by him adding little stuff like that transforms the character from being this like kid to like, no, he's out here doing stuff. He's just as “bad” as Rick and Daryl and not just the little guy who gets, supplies and gets hung out to dry, like actual bait.
Christina: Yeah. So, I think that, he as an actor brought a lot to the character itself too.
Miguel: But sadly, it came to an end in season six, first episode of season seven. Although in season six, they killed him off for three episodes and then brought him back.
Miguel: Which I had an issue with because it's like, okay, you're gonna kill him off. That's fine, because you know you need shocking deaths like that in TV shows and movies because it's unexpected.
Christina: And that’s also…
Miguel: It's like, oh shit, they killed Glenn. But then four episodes later you see him crawling from underneath this garbage dumpster, it’s like, what are you doing here? You created this fake cliff hanger…
Miguel: That didn't need to happen because you were gonna kill him off at the end of the season anyway.
Miguel: So, why do, aha, we tricked you? He's not dead yet, but we're gonna kill him later because people know that it's coming.
Miguel: If they've read the comic book.
Christina: Maybe they thought because they knew that there would be people who would know because of the comic book, but then they wanted to like, put a little twist, like you're not gonna see it coming though. Because some things they stayed true and a lot of things they just went off on their own.
Miguel: I get that, but my problem with it though is you went four episodes without even mentioning Glenn. They completely went off in a different direction, and then like episode seven or eight, he comes crawling from underneath this, this dumpster.
Christina: Well, you know, the TV show fell off for me for many seasons. I think even just rewatching it after, season three or four, I was like, eh, I don't need to see anymore of this.
Christina: I wish I could only watch the parts with the characters I like, because there was a lot of, I mean, this isn't a Walking Dead podcast, but even though it was highly rated the last few seasons, it fell off for me. I would actually recommend the, the comic book over the TV show. But hey, the TV show brought us Glenn.
Miguel: It did.
Christina: It brought us Stephen Yeun. So, I guess we have that.
Miguel: Yeah, and like I said, at the end of that season, it ended on a cliffhanger.
Miguel: We know people get killed, but we didn't know which one they were gonna kill off. And in the first episode of, or yeah, first episode of season seven, that's when we find out his character had been killed. And then he moves on to other things.
Miguel: And that's when we started seeing him in other movies and random TV shows as well. The first thing I remember seeing him in was, Sorry to Bother You. He played a “Mr. Steal Your Girl” type character named Squeeze. He was working in the call center with Tessa Thompson and LaKeith Stanfields' character. Actually, Tessa Thompson didn't work there. She was LaKeith's girlfriend, but that's the girl that he stole in the movie. And it was fun to see him playing that type of character because we didn't see that on The Walking Dead.
Miguel: He was this charismatic, let's rally the troops and start a union guy, who, like I said, was “Mr. Steal Your Girl” too. So, we didn't get to see that much on The Walking Dead. So, it was good to see him in that type of role as well. I don't remember much about the movie because it was so damn weird. I just remember how weird it was. So, I really wanna re-watch it
Miguel: Just to see it again, because the first two-thirds of the movie were semi-normal and then it just went left at the end, so I need to watch it again.
Christina: I remember him being in the movie.
Christina: But I just don't remember much.
Miguel: Yeah, I just remember how weird it got.
Miguel: And just sitting in the theater like, what are we watching right now?
Christina: Yeah, I meant to review it, but just didn't get around to it.
Miguel: Also, he did a movie, you didn't watch it or you didn't finish watching it, but I watched it, called Mayhem.
Christina: Oh, no, I finished it.
Miguel: Oh, you did?
Christina: I just didn't enjoy it.
Christina: And not, because of him.
Miguel: I actually liked it.
Christina: I just found it, just very formulaic. And there are times where I like movies that are like, B-movies or very formulaic, but I think for me, the acting of pretty much everyone else other than him was too stiff for me. Like, he just felt more natural in the role—
Christina: Where everyone else felt like they memorized the lines.
Miguel: Yeah, that didn't bother me as much. So, if you haven't seen Mayhem, not gonna give it away because it's a fairly recent movie. And I don't have a problem with spoiling something like Menace II Society, which we talked about the last episode 'cause it's 30 years old.
Miguel: But in Mayhem, he plays a lawyer this law firm who involved themselves in some kind of shady business as we find out.
Christina: Uh huh.
Miguel: Throughout the movie, and he's also the narrator of the film and he's describing a covid like virus that's going around the world and giving people what's called “red eye.” And basically instead of killing you, like potentially covid could, it just attacks your neural pathways and makes you lose all inhibition. So, whatever it is keeping you from committing crimes and just doing dumb shit is gone because of this virus.
Miguel: And it hits his workplace and they're quarantined together for like 12 hours and all hell breaks loose and that's all I'm gonna give you. A bunch of things happen. Hilarity, ensues. It’s very bloody, it's very gory.
Miguel: Because it's basically like, uh, what's the movie? The Purge.
Miguel: Because when you're under the influence of the virus, legally, you can't be held responsible for what happens, so, people just get crazy.
Christina: Yeah, I mean, I guess if you liked The Purge and movies like that, then this would be one.
Miguel: Yeah, it, it has a little more humor than The Purge, though.
Christina: Yeah, it’s kinda like dark, dark humor weaved into it.
Miguel: Yeah. So, it's a lot of violence, but there's some humor involved as well.
Christina: Yeah. I don't know. It was too much for me. But, I think for me it just highlighted that when you're a good actor, you can make do with a little.
Christina: You can do a lot with a little?
Miguel: Yes. You do more with less.
Christina: Yeah. And I think when you compare him to the other actors, you can see why we know him more than the other people in the movie.
Miguel: Yeah, it's um, uh, who's the lead actress? Samara Weaving. And I only know her because she looks like six other white actresses who all look like this.
Christina: Yeah! Because you know what, in the thumbnail, I thought she was somebody else.
Christina: And then when I started watching the movie, the person I thought she was, I can't remember her name…
Miguel: It could be any of them because there's literally like six of them that look like this.
Christina: Yeah. And it's not a, all white people look alike. No. Like these women literally look alike.
Miguel: Yes, they really do. They were created in the same lab.
Christina: Right. They need to talk to their parents.
Miguel: Exactly. Uh, we also watched Minari.
Miguel: That came out in 2021, I believe.
Miguel: 2020. And that's the movie that he got the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, which is another completely different role—
Miguel: than stuff we've seen him in previously. He's playing a father. A Korean father from California, well from Korea who moved to California, and he had a dream of becoming a produce farmer. So, he moves his family to Arkansas of all places. And someone who has family in Arkansas, I know that was a shitty deal for an Asian family to be moving to Arkansas in the 1980s.
Miguel: But had a dream of becoming this produce farmer. So he moved his family there.
Christina: And specifically Korean produce too.
Miguel: Yes. So, he moves his family to Arkansas. They try to get this farm going and basically it's a story about family.
Christina: Yeah. I think what I loved about this movie is it shows that you can have a story about non-white people, and even in this case, like half the movie is in Korean. But it doesn't have to be like, “a Korean story.” Like, it is, but if you have family, if you've grown up trying to make something of your life, take care of your family, issues with finances, these themes can relate to everybody.
Christina: And if you are from these specific groups, then it's also nice to have a more specific representation of your experience. And this kind of had something for both of us. Like, you know what it's like, growing up in Arkansas. I mean, you didn't grow up in Arkansas, but you visited a lot.
Miguel: Yeah, I was there every summer basically.
Christina: So, you have, the experience of like, the, or at least understand this rural life. And then I have the experience of growing up in an immigrant family and like, the cultural differences when you're the child. So, it's nice to have that extra layer if you are part of these groups. But just like when we watch things that don't directly relate to us, we can still pick out the things that we can relate to or just enjoy it, whether we personally relate to it or not.
Christina: And it just sucks that this movie was categorized as a foreign film.
Miguel: Yeah. Which didn't make any sense because, it starred well—
Christina: Mostly American actors.
Miguel: He, he moved to America when he was four.
Miguel: The story was written by the person who it's about. So, like, the story was the little kid. He wrote the story. He's from America. And it was financed by an American company. So, why is it a foreign film?
Christina: And not only that, even the story itself is based in America too.
Miguel: Yeah. It's not like they're basing it in Korea, they're in Arkansas.
Christina: Yes, so it just goes to show how silly, I don't know, racism is?
Miguel: Yeah. You can just call it what it is. Because there's no reason for that to be listed as a foreign film.
Christina: Yeah, like yes, they spoke Korean, but that is also an American experience.
Miguel: Yeah and they spoke English in the movie as well.
Christina: Yes. That little kid, he's adorable. “Why can't you be a normal Grandma?” With his cowboy boots.
Miguel: Yeah. Cowboy boots and short shorts. I used to dress like that, not gonna lie. I have pictures of me in short shorts and a tank top. And cowboy boots as well.
Christina: See? So, everyone can get something from this. But yeah, like I said, I mean, at the end of the day, the movie's about family.
Miguel: Yeah, and basically that's all it is.
Christina: Yeah. And it just so happens that it's a Korean family.
Christina: Yeah. But I, I really liked the movie. It's one of those movies that's like, has a lot of different emotions. Like, it was kind of sad, but there was like some heartwarming stuff and then some bad stuff happened, but some good stuff came out of it and…
Miguel: Right. And—
Christina: And it was funny in silly little ways.
Miguel: Yeah, so and he was able to express all of those different emotions of trying to keep this family together and like, pursue his really big dream as well.
Christina: Despite many setbacks.
Miguel: Like, being set back left and right. Some of them were self-inflicted. Others were just bad luck.
Miguel: But the way he portrayed that character was, was really good. And I was actually surprised, ‘cause like I said, we hadn't seen him in anything like that before.
Miguel: Because I remember watching it like, ain't he a little too young to be playing this kind of character? But after I think about it, it's like, no, he was probably in his early thirties with a young child.
Miguel: And he was trying to get his life together.
Miguel: I think because it was set in the ’80s and the way he was dressing made it seem like he was a lot older than he really was.
Miguel: But yeah, I like the movie. It was really good.
Christina: Yeah. It's definitely worth a rewatch.
Christina: And if you haven't watched it, then it's definitely worth a watch too. There's a reason why it was nominated, even though it was a “foreign film.”
Miguel: Right. Something that our listeners are gonna have to help us out with, because I tried to watch this movie. And I made it through like nine minutes and I just couldn't do it. It's called The Humans.
Christina: I made it to about 20 minutes.
Miguel: Okay. I, uh, I really tried. And it's gotten good reviews and people like it, but I just could not get through it. It was a lot and nothing at the same time.
Christina: See, I—
Miguel: So, I fought through and when I watched it, he hadn't even come on screen yet.
Miguel: He had just spoken. And you can hear him from off screen.
Miguel: And I'm like, I can't do this for two hours. So, I had to tap out.
Christina: So, yeah, I think I made it till about at least 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. And he's, he's shown up and he's part of everything now, but it is definitely one of those…it's like about nothing and a lot at the same time, but it moves slow. I don't necessarily mind that, but I have a bit of a bias. I forgot that Amy Schumer is in this movie and I just—
Miguel: See, I didn't even know she was in it.
Christina: I can't with her. So, you didn't even notice her then, cause she was definitely in the first nine minutes.
Miguel: No, I did not even notice because they, like I said, it was really slow and nothing was happening. And I saw, what's her name, Beanie something? Jonah Hill's sister.
Christina: Yes. She's his wife or girlfriend.
Miguel: Yeah. And I read the synopsis, like they're having Thanksgiving dinner and I'm just watching it. Like, when is something going to happen? Like, anything? Like, literally nothing was going on. And I was like, you know, I have other things to do, so I'm not gonna watch this movie.
Christina: Well, actually the movie kind of reminds me of, one of his other ones that we just watched last night, Burning.
Christina: It’s not the same in terms of plot at all.
Miguel: But there's nothing and a lot happening at the same time with that movie.
Miguel: But the difference with the two is, I was drawn in immediately—
Miguel: To Burning, and this one I had no interest in.
Miguel: And you would think it would be the other way around because Burning is completely in Korean.
Christina: Yes. So Burning is, an actual foreign film because it was filmed in Korea and the writer, producer, director, whatever, is Korean too. So, this is actually a Korean film.
Christina: But, for this movie, I actually think it's best to go in blind.
Christina: I don't know about Humans. I might just leave it on in the background just to see what happens, but at the same time, I feel like it's one of those movies where you have to pay attention.
Miguel: I'll probably give it another shot.
Christina: Because it's so like, I'm jumping back and forth. So, in Humans, you could tell there's like issues going on within the family. You know, you make these little side remarks and then, someone will say something and then they'll flash to a hole in the wall or something.
Christina: Because basically him and, I forgot her name again. Jonah Hill’s sister.
Miguel: Oh, uh, Beanie Feldstein.
Christina: They move into a, a new house, in like, Chinatown, New York, and her family's just kind of like, oh, we don't like this neighborhood. We wish you would move into a nicer spot, blah, blah, blah. So, every time, her dad will say something, they'll show a crack in the ceiling or something.
Christina: Just to kind of, I guess, show the discomfort, of him not wanting them to live in this house. It's a lot of little things like that, which, I think that's why you have to pay attention. It's not something you can just kind of leave on in the background—
Christina: But at the same time, I'm like, oh, what's gonna happen?
Christina: With Burning the same thing too. Like, we were watching it and for the first hour we're just like, what, what do, like, what's the storyline?
Miguel: I was thinking about it this morning.
Christina: Uh huh.
Miguel: And I guess it's gonna invalidate everything that I'm about to say afterwards because I don't know if it was good or not. But at the same time, the fact that I'm still thinking about it means it must have been good. Because nothing happened at all in the movie. Yet I couldn't , I couldn’t get away from it.
Miguel: Things did happen.
Christina: Things happened. So, okay. I would recommend going into this movie completely blind, but also being patient.
Christina: Because like, literally the first hour—cause I remember I was asking you how much time is left? Because I, I don't know what I'm waiting for.
Miguel: Yeah, exactly. And he—
Miguel: And it took 20 minutes for him to even show up in the movie.
Miguel: But yet I was still drawn to it. It's like, what's gonna happen next?
Christina: But I think what makes the movie great and what we probably noticed, in Minari. Is that he's really good at subtleties.
Christina: So, again, without giving too much, when you watch his character, you're like, is he? And it's because of these little subtleties, you're like, is he this or is he that?
Miguel: Yeah. And I watched a video maybe an hour ago, and he said halfway through the movie, the director asked him, so how do you feel this character is? Is he this or is he that? And he was like, yeah, I know, but I'm not gonna tell you. So, the guy was like, okay. And he says that only I know the true answer to what actually happens in the movie, because that's how he played it.
Miguel: Now that we've seen the movie, I still don't know. Because of the way he played it. It could go either way.
Christina: Well, I won't tell you what I think because that'll give away the movie.
Christina: So, we could, we could talk about that offline.
Miguel: Exactly. But I recommend that our listeners watch this movie.
Christina: Yes. And have some patience. Like, I can see some people watching this and being like, oh, that was so slow. But I think it's worth it.
Miguel: Yeah. It is.
Christina: And I don't even know if slow is the right word, you're just not sure…
Miguel: What's going on.
Christina: What’s going on exactly. And there are some things where you're just like, Did we need to know about that?
Christina: But I think, like there's some things that are introduced that don't seem to be necessary to how it ended or what happened in the last quarter of the movie.
Miguel: Yeah, but—
Christina: But at the same time, it just feels like that's the whole point.
Christina: Like, we're just building all these characters and their lives. Then it unfolds—
Christina: Near the end.
Miguel: The longer the movie goes on, the more questions you have, and those questions never get answered.
Christina: I feel like the main question is answered.
Miguel: I don’t.
Christina: All right. We might have to do another episode where we—
Miguel: Just a review of the movie.
Christina: And we will say “spoilers ahead.”
Miguel: Yeah. You know what, that's not a bad idea.
Christina: ‘Cause now I’m thinking, now we're, just rambling because we're trying not to say, what happens. So just watch the movie and look out for maybe a B-Side or something where we actually discuss it. And don't worry about giving away the movie because in theory you would have watched it.
Miguel: Exactly. So, let's move on to what I think is the most recent movie, or not what I think. I know it's the most recent movie. Nope.
Miguel: Which just came out last year.
Christina: Which is funny, you said Nope. And I said yes. The movie, Nope.
Miguel: Yeah, where he played a former child star who is running a theme park now based off of one of his child roles. What does he call it? Jupiter's Claim is the name of his theme park. And he plays Jupe.
Christina: And not like cologne.
Miguel: No. J-u-p-e, short for Jupiter.
Christina: This actually is another role where he acts with those subtleties.
Christina: Um, is very important because the way he processes his trauma is to make a big theme park out of it basically.
Christina: So, when they were talking about, oh, that crazy thing that happened when he was a kid on that show, and instead of talking about it, he's like, “oh, there's this great SNL sketch.”
Christina: And he's just like, oh, this is great, yada, yada, yada. But you can kind of see like, in his eyes that he's trying to hide the pain.
Miguel: It’s obvious that he's still dealing with it, but rather than actually dealing with it—
Christina: He's capitalizing off of it.
Miguel: Yeah, he’s capitalizing off of it. He makes light of it. He makes jokes about it, but it really fucked him up.
Miguel: Because you see it in the flashbacks.
Christina: You see it in the flashbacks to confirm what you can already see in his eyes.
Christina: He didn't have a lot of screen time in the movie. But it was important, I think.
Miguel: Yeah. And you could kind of say that he was the villain in this movie.
Christina: Ehh….. I mean, if the movie had to have a villain other than the monster in the sky.
Miguel: The real villain? Yeah.
Christina: I mean, he ended up exploiting the same thing that—
Miguel: Okay. Not a villain. He's an anti-hero. How about that?
Christina: That's a better word. ‘Cause he ended up doing, exploiting the same thing that happened to him.
Miguel: Right. So, that's another good movie, and it's another one that leaves a lot of things unanswered.
Christina: Yeah I, even on our second watch, I'm like, I'm still confused.
Miguel: Yeah. And that's what's gonna happen with a Jordan Peele movie. You're gonna end up with more questions than answers.
Christina: See he, he tricked us with Get Out where that one was pretty easy to figure out.
Christina: And then it got progressively more nuanced. And Nope, I'm like, there's a couple things I don't quite get.
Miguel: All right, so ,let's talk about the most recent thing that we saw him in.
Miguel: Yes, a Netflix show called Beef.
Christina: I loved Beef so much.
Miguel: Beef is amazing and I loved everything about it.
Miguel: He plays Danny Cho. A handy—
Christina: At Cho Service.
Miguel: “At Cho Service,” one of the Cho bros. Uh, he's a handyman, but he's suffering from crippling depression.
Miguel: And he gets into, it was over a year, a year long beef with Ali Wong's character, over a parking space.
Christina: Yes. ‘Cause she laid on the horn.
Miguel: Yeah. And gave him the finger.
Christina:And that was, that was it.
Miguel: And that led to a year long beef.
Christina: And he ends up having this year long beef with someone who is also dealing with crippling depression.
Miguel: Yeah. So, they're two sides to the same coin.
Christina: But they don't know it.
Miguel: And they cannot stand each other and things happen. A lot of things happen.
Christina: A lot of things happen. Like, it progressed into places I was not expecting.
Miguel: Yeah. And at the same time, this one does deal with a lot of family issues as well. Of family relationships between him and his brother, his relationship with his cousin, his relationship with his parents, trying to make them proud. So, there's a lot going on on his side as well as her, trying to be the most successful businesswoman ever while impressing her mother-in-law and trying to support her husband with his art.
Christina: And his dreams.
Miguel: And trying to like, lead her daughter into a specific type of lifestyle as well. So, there's a lot going on on both sides in this show.
Christina: Yeah. I really liked this show, and this kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about Asian representation and stuff. You know, you have a majority Asian cast, but they're just people doing things.
Christina: I think what I like about the portrayals of the characters here is, you can highlight a person's ethnicity and their experiences because of that without being like, this is an Asian story.
Christina: But then to make it relatable to everybody else, you don't have to also whitewash it where they're just Asian faces in white spaces.
Christina: So, the characters are very Asian, but they're also very American. And while you're cognizant of that, it's not driving the story though.
Christina: And you get to see like different representations of Asians. You don't just see like the stereotypical nerd or—
Christina: And even though she has this like strive to be successful, it's not like this model minority story.
Christina: It's just like, a lot of us wanna be successful. But at the same time, you know, you do still see some specific Asian experiences like bringing his family from Korea so that they could be proud of him and stuff. But again, even those themes are relatable to a lot of, different people. And I feel like, you don't know what you're missing, until you see it sometimes. Like, it would've been nice to see stuff like this when I was growing up.
Christina: And I don't know if it would've changed me or anything, but as someone who was dealing with, you know, cultural issues within my own family. I thought I was just a weirdo and my family, like, we were just weirdos. Like, how do you have a cultural disconnection within the same family? And then I'd come to find out that this is quite normal.
Christina: When you're like, first or second generation, from the immigrant families. And not only that, it was always like, you're not Asian enough, you're not, whatever. And so being able to see just like Asians living their lives, even if they were doing some crazy stuff.
Miguel: Yeah. Like, they tackled all of those themes on top of the foolishness.
Miguel: And there's some high quality foolishness.
Christina: Oh, high quality foolishness.
Miguel: Like, this is my kind of carrying on with this show.
Christina: So kind of like when we were talking about Menace II Society, it wasn't necessarily a positive story, but like, for you, you're like, hey, like, I've grown up around these people. This is something I'm familiar with. Right? Even though the characters in Beef weren't necessarily, good or positive, it’s just like, you know what? We're allowed be angry. We're allowed to be depressed. We're allowed to fail. We're allowed to not be perfect.
Miguel: Yeah. And his character was like, kind of wrapped up in all of that. And also we get to see like, things I didn't know about him before but he was able to show in this movie. Like, I didn't know he played guitar.
Christina: And sings.
Miguel: I didn't know he sang. But he was able to do that in this show and it was pretty entertaining to see it. And I've had that damn Incubus song stuck in my head ever since he sang it.
Miguel: So, we got to see the full package in Beef.
Christina: Definitely. And back to those subtleties, he was doing it here too with the lying.
Christina: And even just like, his depression, makes him a compulsive eater. So like, the scenes where he is like, shoving those chicken burgers, he's like, just housing those sandwiches. But you could see like, the pain at the same time where I just like, ugh. Like, I could feel this. And all he's doing is just like, shoving burgers into his mouth. It's just the, those little subtleties and you could see it in his facial expressions and stuff is like, really important.
Miguel: And that brings us to all of the different types of characters that he played, because as I mentioned, all of them are different from each other. Like, he was the heroic or the plucky pizza delivery guy, as you said.
Christina: Turned heroic survivalist.
Miguel: Yeah. Uh, he was the “Mr. Steal Your Girl“ union leader. He was the family man. He's the depressed big brother, the sleazy theme park owner, the mystery man in Burning. So, there's a lot that he's able to bring to the table. And I, like I said, just now, throwing the singing and guitar playing into the mix. It's like, who is this guy? He's very talented and hopefully we get to see more of it.
Christina: Well, judging by his IMDb, we will.
Miguel: Yeah. Yeah. He, he's working. He's definitely working. And I like the fact that he's been able to avoid the, the accent guy type of roles—
Miguel: Where…he does roles where he does have an accent, but It's not like—
Christina: It’s supposed to be.
Miguel: Yeah, it's not the butt of a joke.
Miguel: And it's not like, being a stereotype of the—
Christina: There’s not a gong following him everywhere.
Miguel: Yeah. There's none of that happening. Like, the accent is legit.
Christina: You know what? I think in a way he might have been able to avoid that because he got that Walking Dead role.
Miguel: Yeah. Just right off the bat.
Christina: I mean, he did, yeah, he did, some other little things before that, but for the most part, that was like, his first major role, and he got that five months after moving to LA.
Christina: And I saw him talking about it in an interview and having him paired up with a white woman, which is a big deal for like, Asian male characters.
Christina: It’s those weird stereotypes. But having him as sort of like, a leading man with a white woman helped him break out that stereotype of the like, emasculated Asian man with the gong following around him.
Christina: So, maybe being able to be like, such an important character, opened him up to other roles where he doesn't have to take anything.
Christina: Like, I'm not gonna knock those people who take those roles because a job is a job, right?
Miguel: Yeah, you need to pay the mortgage.
Christina: You need to pay the mortgage. And it's not your fault if there just aren't better roles.
Christina: But I think that probably helped. And it just seems like—and we've talked about, maybe doing another episode about this—but it seems like there's this, there's been this era of like, Asian characters—
Christina: in the last, I don't know, few years or so, Asian based movies, TV shows and whatnot that allow for different representations. So, I don't know if maybe he just happened to come up during a time where like, there is more options and, and people want these stories that also have helped to keep him from ending up in these very stereotypical roles.
Miguel: Yeah, I think it's a combination of both. Right place, right time, and the climate is changing. It's still not where it should be but it's not where we were 10 years ago.
Christina: Or 20 years ago where all we had was All American Girl.
Miguel: Yeah. And that had been off the air for 25 years so.
Christina: And then it flopped because they tried to force it to being something it shouldn't have been. And then was like, oh look, nobody wants to see Asians.
Miguel: Yeah. So, it looks like the tide is turning.
Miguel: With that said, what has been your favorite role of his up to this point?
Christina: I wanna say Beef just because you get to see him in all his glory, I guess, ‘cause you see all the different sides of him as he's navigating this beef. But I also like him in Burning cause I like seeing him as sort of this fancy, rich, mystery man.
Christina: With his like crossed legs and his refined ways.
Christina: And his fancy car.
Miguel: Yeah. I would choose that one too, because it's different than a lot of things that we've seen him in. And like you said, it was good to see him with that type of attitude that he was carrying himself with.
Miguel: So, yeah, even though I said I don't know if the movie is good or not, obviously I think it's good because I keep going back to it and I still have so many questions about it, and I loved his performance in it. So, yeah, I'm contradicting everything I said earlier, about not knowing whether it's a good movie or not. It's a good movie.
Christina: It was critically acclaimed.
Miguel: It was.
Christina: And Rotten Tomatoes, the critics gave it about 90% and the audience gave it about 80%, which is pretty good when the critics and the audience generally agree. So.
Miguel: Exactly. And I've said I wasn't gonna ask you this anymore, but is there anything else you would like to say before we wrap this episode up? Oh, you actually have something this time?
Christina: I actually have something this time.
Christina: And you know this 'cause you can see me waving my finger.
Miguel: I do.
Christina: I actually have something this time.
Christina: I haven't watched all of them, but those videos with him and Conan going to Korea.
Miguel: Those are hilarious.
Christina: Hilarious. Oh yeah, we didn't mention, but when he decided he wanted to get into acting, he started out doing improv and comedy.
Miguel: Yeah, with Second City in Chicago.
Christina: Yeah. So, in interviews in general, but especially the stuff with Conan because he's just wacky, you get to see his improv roots. Because he's got like, this deadpan sort of humor, but he also has really good comedic timing.
Christina: Whereas Conan's just like, ah. And then he just comes in with like a dry response.
Miguel: He plays the straight man really well.
Miguel: And they do a K-pop music video.
Christina: Oh, I just watched that, which was hilarious. So, definitely I would recommend just interviews in general, but definitely the Conan stuff is just wacky.
Miguel: Yeah. And we'll link to those on the website.
Christina: Yeah, they, do a talk show in North Korea too.
Miguel: And South Korea at the same.
Christina: Just to give you a, a little taste. Or a little peek into what you're about to see if you watch those videos.
Miguel: On that note, we’re gonna wrap this up here. Thank you again for listening to They Reminisce Over You. You can check us out on social media at @troypodcast on Instagram and Twitter. We finally broke down and put together a Facebook page. If you are on Facebook, you can follow us there as well. facebook.com/troypodcast. So, we are officially on Facebook as well.
Christina: In 2023.
Miguel: In 2023, we're finally on Facebook. You can also check out the website troypodcast.com, so you can get the links that we mentioned that we're gonna post up.
Christina: Newly redesigned website.
Miguel: Newly redesigned website. So, go check that out. troypodcast.com. Sign up for our newsletter. It comes out once a month so you're not getting a bunch of spam in your inboxes. Get some good jokes, some good links, some good videos, good recommendations. troypodcast.com/newsletter, and it'll show up in your inbox.
Christina: You got it right this time.
Miguel: I did, I didn't butcher it like the past couple times. Also, if you wanna buy some merch, go to teethang.com. Get yourself t-shirt, hoodie mugs, kitty litter box. I don't know—
Christina: No, we don’t have that.
Miguel: We don't have kitty litter boxes. But you can get a lot of
Christina: Get some stuff.
Miguel: At teethang.com. That's T-E-E-T-H-A-N-G .com. Nuthin' But a Tee Thang. That's our merch store. We've got stuff for the podcast. We've got stuff that's not related to the podcast. So, go out and buy yourself something.
Christina: Fun stuff.
Miguel: Yeah. And that's all I have. So, we're gonna wrap it up, and thanks for listening. See you in two weeks. Or, we'll be in your ear holes again in two weeks because we're not gonna see you. But you'll hear us in two weeks.
Christina: Yeah. “Wrap it up, B.”
Miguel: All right. Bye.