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Steven Yeun recalls having to do a ‘s****y accent’ for an early audition

Steven Yeun could make history as the first Asian-American nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his new film Minari, and he’s opening up about some of his struggles along the way.

The 37-year-old South Korean-American actor, who moved to America when he was just five years old.

The Walking Dead star appeared on a new Variety podcast to discuss the film, where he opened up about an uncomfortable audition experience he had.

History: Steven Yeun could make history as the first Asian-American nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his new film Minari, and he’s opening up about some of his struggles along the way

Experience: The Walking Dead star appeared on a new Variety podcast to discuss the film, where he opened up about an uncomfortable audition experience he had

Experience: The Walking Dead star appeared on a new Variety podcast to discuss the film, where he opened up about an uncomfortable audition experience he had

Yeun was raised in Troy, Michigan after his family immigrated from South Korea, and he ultimately moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy at the famed Second City improv theater.

He revealed that the first audition he had in Chicago was for a show called Awesome 80s Prom, ‘which was an immersive improvised show, where you have this John Hughes spectrum of characters like Ferris Bueller.’

‘I auditioned with Ferris Bueller’s opening monologue. And they said, “that was good. Can you do that all again in an Asian accent?” And I’ll be honest with you. I knew that I didn’t want to do that,’ he said.

Audition: He revealed that the first audition he had in Chicago was for a show called Awesome 80s Prom, 'which was an immersive improvised show, where you have this John Hughes spectrum of characters like Ferris Bueller'

Audition: He revealed that the first audition he had in Chicago was for a show called Awesome 80s Prom, ‘which was an immersive improvised show, where you have this John Hughes spectrum of characters like Ferris Bueller’

‘The system had no clue that’s not what I wanted. We were just in a different time. And so I remember I did a s****y accent and phoned it, and they still wanted me anyway because that’s how far and few between Asian actors were,’ he added.

‘So they call, and they said, “We’d like to hire you.” And I said, “No.” And they got really mad. And I was like, “Oh, that’s not a good first step in this business. I pissed somebody off,”‘ he added.

Yeun also recalled he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue acting or not in college, but he recalls following another Korean actor, John Cho, quite closely.

Acting: Yeun also recalled he wasn't sure if he wanted to pursue acting or not in college, but he recalls following another Korean actor, John Cho, quite closely

Acting: Yeun also recalled he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue acting or not in college, but he recalls following another Korean actor, John Cho, quite closely

‘I’d seen John Cho start popping off, and it was really cool to watch him. He hadn’t gotten the shine that he deserved at the time, and it took a little bit for him over time,’ Yeun said.

‘I watched him, and I was like, “Wow!” Here’s a Korean American actor that I’ve never seen before, and he’s on the screen, and it’s pretty incredible. He was the first one not to be objectified or fetishized,’ Yeun added.

‘He was a new version of what an Asian man is seen as. He was something new and fresh and gave me a roadmap to emulate. I thought it was possible for me,’ he said.

 

Korean American: 'I watched him, and I was like, “Wow!” Here’s a Korean American actor that I’ve never seen before, and he’s on the screen, and it’s pretty incredible. He was the first one not to be objectified or fetishized,' Yeun added

Korean American: ‘I watched him, and I was like, “Wow!” Here’s a Korean American actor that I’ve never seen before, and he’s on the screen, and it’s pretty incredible. He was the first one not to be objectified or fetishized,’ Yeun added

Yeun also opened up about his experience on Minari, revealing how he reacted to writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s script.

‘I was given a script in October of 2018. I read it, and I was so blown away by the honesty, the truthfulness of the point of view,’ he began.

‘I can only speak from the Asian American immigrant perspective, but usually, when I read scripts, they’re oftentimes caught in the grasp of a gaze from either side, whether it’s the American majority-white gaze of needing to explain itself and its culture to two people,’ Yeun added.

Minari will be released in theaters on February 12 through A24 Films.  

New film: Yeun also opened up about his experience on Minari, revealing how he reacted to writer-director Lee Isaac Chung's script

New film: Yeun also opened up about his experience on Minari, revealing how he reacted to writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s script


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