Steven Yeun

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Steven Yeun
Steven Yeun 2016.jpg
Yeun at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
Yeun Sang-yeop

(1983-12-21) December 21, 1983 (age 36)
Education
OccupationActor
Years active2005–present
Spouse(s)
Joana Pak
(m. 2016)
Children2
Korean name
Hangul
Revised RomanizationYeon Sang-yeop
McCune–ReischauerYôn Sangyǒp

Steven Yeun (/jʌn/; Korean: 연상엽; born Yeun Sang-yeop; December 21, 1983) is a South Korean-American actor. He is best known for his roles as Glenn Rhee in the television series The Walking Dead (2010–2016) and Ben in the film Burning (2018). The latter earned him critical acclaim and several accolades, including the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has been nominated for two Saturn Awards.

Yeun has also appeared in the films I Origins (2014), Okja (2017), Mayhem (2017), Sorry to Bother You (2018), and Minari (2020) and voiced main characters in television series such as Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016–2018), Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters (2017–2018), Final Space (2018–present), 3Below: Tales of Arcadia (2018–2019), Tuca & Bertie (2019), and Wizards: Tales of Arcadia (2020).

Early life[edit]

Yeun was born in Seoul, South Korea, to Je and Jun Yeun.[1] His father was an architect in South Korea[2] before moving his family in 1988 to Regina, Saskatchewan, and later to Troy, Michigan.[3][4] Yeun was raised in a Christian household and graduated from Troy High School in 2001.[5][6][7][8] Yeun's parents began calling him "Steven" after meeting a doctor by that name.[9] His parents owned beauty-supply stores in Detroit.[1]

Yeun received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience[1] from Kalamazoo College in 2005.[6] At Kalamazoo, he met Jordan Klepper through Klepper's sister and later followed him to Chicago to join The Second City.[1]

Career[edit]

Yeun's interest in acting and improv came during his freshman year at Kalamazoo, when he watched the college's improv group, Monkapult. He auditioned for Monkapult, but was initially rejected before successfully joining the group during his sophomore year.[6] Yeun revealed to his parents that he planned to pursue an improv career in Chicago instead of enrolling in law school or medical school. His parents, while unhappy with the decision, were supportive, according to Yeun, and gave him two years to pursue acting.[6]

Yeun moved to Chicago in 2005, living in the city's Lincoln Square with his brother.[5] Shortly after graduation, he joined Stir Friday Night, a sketch comedy group composed of Asian-American members.[6] Other alumni of the group include Danny Pudi from Community. He joined The Second City in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in October 2009.[6]

The Walking Dead[edit]

Yeun at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con

Yeun's biggest role to date was Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead, an AMC television horror drama based on the comic book series of the same name. The series began in 2010 with Glenn as one of the original main characters who fights to survive in a violent apocalyptic world infested with flesh-eating walkers as well as other humans, some of whom are more dangerous than the walkers. The drama is the highest rated series in cable television history, with its third through sixth season garnering the most 18 to 49-year-old viewers of any cable or broadcast television series.[10][11][12] The series has received mostly positive reviews from professional television critics.[13][14] Yeun left the show in 2016 after his character Glenn was killed off in the season 7 premiere.

Films[edit]

In March 2016, Yeun was cast in Joe Lynch's action horror film Mayhem.[15] The film was released in theaters on November 10, 2017.[16] In April 2016, Yeun was cast in Bong Joon-ho's action-adventure film Okja.[17] The film competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[18][19] It was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017.[20] Yeun also provided the voice of Bo in 2017's The Star.

Yeun then co-starred in Boots Riley's dark comedy Sorry to Bother You alongside Lakeith Stanfield, Armie Hammer, and Tessa Thompson,[21] which was released in theaters on July 6, 2018.[22] The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018.[23] The film won The 2019 National Board of Review's Top Ten Independent Films award.[24] It also won Best Screenplay and Best First Feature at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards.[25]

In late 2018, Yeun played as a mysterious character Ben in the South Korean mystery drama film Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong. The film was first unveiled at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[26] His performance in the film was acclaimed. Yeun won Best Supporting Actor at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2018, Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 2018, and 2018 National Society of Film Critics Awards.

In 2020, Yeun starred in and served as an executive producer for Lee Isaac Chung's A24 immigrant drama Minari, which also includes Will Patton and Scott Haze among the cast.[27] The film had its world premiere and won two top awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020.[28] He next will co-star alongside Jayne Houdyshell, Richard Jenkins and Amy Schumer, in Stephen Karam's award winning one-act play adaptation The Humans.[29]

Other television work[edit]

Yeun has also voice acted in both animated series and films. Some of these roles include Avatar Wan in season 2 of The Legend of Korra, Steve Palchuk in Trollhunters and 3Below, Keith in Voltron: Legendary Defender, Nathan Park/Wingspan in Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Little Cato in Final Space, and Speckle in Tuca & Bertie.

It was later revealed that Yeun's role as Steve Palchuk would continue into Wizards, the third series of the Tales of Arcadia trilogy.[30][31] The first season of 3Below was released on Netflix on December 21, 2018, and the second and final season was released on July 12, 2019.

In late 2018, Yeun landed a main role in an episode of Jordan Peele's revival of The Twilight Zone.[32] He next will voice act in eight-episode animated series Invincible adapting Robert Kirkman's comic book series. The series will release on Amazon Prime in 2021.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Yeun is an investor of The Bun Shop, a Korean-Mediterranean fusion restaurant in Koreatown, Los Angeles, owned by his younger brother Brian Yeun and business partner James Seok.[34][35][36] Yeun married photographer Joana Pak on December 3, 2016.[37] They have two children together.[38][39] Having grown up in Michigan, Yeun is a longtime Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings fan.[40][41][42]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Director(s) Notes
2009 The Kari Files Chip Greg Grabianski Short film
My Name Is Jerry Chaz Morgan Mead
2010 Carpe Millennium Kevin Eric McCoy Short film
Blowout Sale Customer Timothy Kendall
2014 I Origins Kenny Mike Cahill
2015 Like a French Film Steve Shin Yeon-shick
2017 Okja K Bong Joon-ho
Mayhem Derek Cho Joe Lynch
The Star Bo (voice) Timothy Reckart
2018 Sorry to Bother You Squeeze Boots Riley
Burning Ben Lee Chang-dong
2020 Minari Jacob Yi Lee Isaac Chung Also executive producer
2021 The Humans Richard Stephen Karam Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 The Big Bang Theory Sebastian Episode: "The Staircase Implementation"
2010–2016 The Walking Dead Glenn Rhee 66 episodes
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Television Series (2012)
Saturn Award for Best Television Ensemble (2012)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television (2011)
2011 Law & Order: LA Ken Hasui Episode: "Hayden Tract"
Warehouse 13 Gibson Rice Episode: "Don't Hate the Player"
2012 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Ricky Meeker Episode: "16 Hop Street"
Harder Than it Looks Steven Episode: "Lockdown"
2013 The Legend of Korra Avatar Wan (voice) 3 episodes
Filthy Preppy Teen$ Martin Pilot
2014 Drunk History Daniel Inouye Episode: "Hawaii"
American Dad! Charles (voice) Episode: "Blagsnarst, a Love Story"
Comedy Bang! Bang! Himself Episode: "Steven Yeun Wears Rolled Up Black Jeans & No Socks"
2016–2018 Voltron: Legendary Defender Keith (voice) 64 episodes
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Steve Palchuk (voice) 28 episodes
2017–2018 Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters Nathan Park / Wingspan (voice) 24 episodes
2017–2019 The Warrior of the Quest Alan Mitzti, Charles Pilarged (voice) 49 episodes
2017 Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ Eric Episode: "Disaster Drills"
Robot Chicken Glenn Rhee / Glenn and Maggie's baby (voices) Episode: "The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking"
2018–present Final Space Little Cato (voice), additional voices 22 episodes
2018–2019 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Steve Palchuk (voice) 19 episodes
2019 Weird City Barsley Episode: "Chonathan & Mulia & Barsley & Phephanie"
The Twilight Zone A. Traveler Episode: "A Traveler"[43]
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson Jacob Episode: "Has This Ever Happened To You?"[44]
Ride with Norman Reedus Himself Episode: "Bay Area with Steven Yeun"
2019–present Tuca & Bertie Speckle (voice) 10 episodes
2020 Wizards: Tales of Arcadia Steve Palchuk (voice) 10 episodes

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist
2016 "Fire" Park Jin-young (feat. Conan O'Brien & Jimin Park)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Crysis North Korean soldier 2 Voice
2008 Crysis Warhead Voice
2017 DreamWorks Voltron VR Chronicles Keith Voice

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2011 Saturn Award[45] Best Supporting Actor on Television The Walking Dead Nominated
2012 Saturn Award[46] Best Television Ensemble (shared with cast) Won
Satellite Awards[47] Best Cast – Television Series (shared with cast) Won
2017 BTVA People's Choice Voice Acting Award[48] Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series (shared with cast) Voltron: Legendary Defender Won
BTVA Television Voice Acting Award Nominated
Brooklyn Horror Film Festival[49] Best Actor Mayhem Won
2018 Buil Film Awards[50] Best Supporting Actor Burning Nominated
Grand Bell Awards[51] Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards[52] Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[53] Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association[54] Best Supporting Actor Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association[55] Best Supporting Actor Won
Seattle Film Critics Society[56] Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle[57] Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Runner-up
IndieWire Critics Poll[58] Best Supporting Actor Won
Greater Western New York Film Critics Association[59] Won
Florida Film Critics Circle[60] Best Supporting Actor Won
2019 Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award Won
National Society of Film Critics[61] Best Supporting Actor Won
International Cinephile Society[62] Best Supporting Actor Runner-up
International Online Cinema Awards[63] Won
Chlotrudis Awards[64] Nominated
Baeksang Arts Awards[65] Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Chunsa Film Art Awards[66] Best Supporting Actor Won
Saturn Awards[67] Best Supporting Actor Nominated

References[edit]

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External links[edit]