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Steven Yeun Admits He "Went a Little Ham" When First Taking Shrooms

The Invincible actor tells WSJ Magazine he felt he was making up for lost time.
  • Steven Yeun in Beef (Photo: Netflix)
    Steven Yeun in Beef (Photo: Netflix)

    Steven Yeun has a (brief) history with drugs. During a new interview with WSJ Magazine, the actor admitted that he “went a little ham” experimenting with weed, magic mushrooms, and at one point, LSD, after breaking into fame. Even after having kids, he still remains curious about the world of psychedelics. “It’s becoming standard to do DMT or lick a toad. I haven’t done that, but I’d like to,” Yeun said to WSJ.

    Like many, Yeun’s favorite part of marijuana was the calming effect it had on his brain, which helped him deal with his neurotic tendencies. “It’s the way I’ve been since I was 4, when I got dropped here and my brain into a hyperdrive of self-defense,” he explained. “I can obsess over something. I can be taken down by thoughts.”

    Yeun has found a way to utilize his anxieties to his benefit, which has translated into one of the most versatile acting resumes in Hollywood. From strikingly different films like Minari and Nope, as well as hit shows such as The Walking Dead and Invincible under his belt, it’s clear that he never does the same role twice. The reason behind his attraction to idiosyncratic characters is because he doesn’t like feeling “boxed in” by roles. During an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s podcast last year, Yeun revealed there was a voice in the back of his head telling him, “‘If you do it again, you’re a hack’ — and so I just don’t do it again.”

    “I love that feeling of, ‘Oh, I had no idea it was this until I got there,’ said Yeun. “I’d hate to do a project where I have a road map for where it’s supposed to go. That doesn’t sound like fun.”

    That being said, Yeun’s upcoming role in A24’s dark comedy Beef — which premieres April 6 on Netflix — is as unpredictable as it gets. He stars as Danny Cho, a failing contractor who spirals into an obsessive hatred after Amy (Ali Wong) flips him off in a crowded parking lot. The process of getting into the mindset of Danny was particularly challenging for him, explaining that Danny “has to be this self-destructive, burdened guy with a huge chip on his shoulder — and you have to root for him, and he has to be funny.”

    Along with Yeun and Wong, Beef has a strong cast of emerging Asian talent, including Ashley Park (Emily in Paris) and Justin H. Min (The Umbrella Academy). But during an interview with Vanity Fair, showrunner Lee Sung Jin revealed that the show highlights Asian culture and experiences in a very organic way. “Honestly, we try to always lead with character,” said Lee. “So if it bled through into the show, it’s just natural, because these characters happened to be Asian American. We were just kind of trying to chase what felt real.”

    “Culture is great, it’s beautiful, but it’s not the depth of who we are,” Yeun echoed to WSJ. Rather than explain or validate its existence to audiences, he hopes that Beef can find a way to resonate with everyone in some way. “Isn’t that the ultimate goal for any outsider group? To say, ‘Oh, you relate to me; we’re the same.’”

    Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.

    TOPICS: Steven Yeun, Netflix, Beef, A24