Isn’t it a trip when someone is devastatingly good-looking, a talented dramatic actor, and also funny? It may seem as though Steven Yeun was designed in a laboratory by AMC to sell more AMC, but he got his start in the Chicago improv scene, in Second City’s touring company alongside Vanessa Bayer. In a profile in Variety, Yeun explains why he left the improv scene to pursue Hollywood. “‘I didn’t see a pathway through Second City to get to SNL, probably because there was nobody in front of me to lead the way,’” Yeun says. “‘I was also thinking, who could I even play in popular culture that wasn’t an accented foreigner?’”
What changed his thinking and made him optimistic, in retrospect, was SNL casting the unstoppable talent that is Bowen Yang. “‘What’s been nice about recontextualizing that moment is to see what Bowen Yang is doing now on SNL. He’s not playing a stereotype. He’s owning the multitudes of what Asian Americans can be or how Asian people are seen. I think that’s the thing that I wasn’t aware of, or maybe brave enough, to contend with at the time.’” Yeun goes on in the profile to discuss channelling James Dean to play the role of patriarch Jacob in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, which involves a lot of ponderous introspection. “‘And cigarettes.’” If this profile doesn’t lead to a Steven Yeun SNL hosting gig, we riot at dawn.