Steven Yeun is an American actor with South Korean roots. He is most popularly known for his role as Glenn Rhee in the acclaimed TV series, The Walking Dead, which debuted in 2010 and is now its final season. While doing the show, he also took on a number of other projects, including some voice acting.
In 2020, Steven Yeun starred in the critically acclaimed film, Minari. For this, he received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Many Asian Americans have been recognized at the Oscars, but Yeun was the first to receive this prestigious nomination. The role also gave him the first Asian American nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role from the Screen Actors Guild.
Steven Yeun was born on December 21st, 1983 in Seoul South Korea to parents Jun and Je Yeun. When Yeun was 5 years old, his architect father moved the entire family to Canada. They eventually officially immigrated and lived in Regina Saskatchewan. The Walking Dead star’s official name at birth was Yeun Sang-yeop. But after his parents met a doctor named Steven, they began calling him by the same name, and it just stuck.
After a few years, the family moved to Michigan, where Yeun attended Troy High School. He graduated in 2001. Yeun then proceeded to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Kalamazoo College. As things turned out, his original plan of attending medical school did not come to fruition. While at university, he became friends with comedian Jordan Klepper’s sister. She introduced him to comedy and took him to see her brother’s improv show. This started Yeun’s interest in acting.
Despite their initial disappointment, Yeun’s parents were supportive of his decision to go into acting. Soon after graduating from university, he became part of Stir Friday Night!, which was a sketch comedy ensemble based in Chicago made up of Asian Americans. He also became part of The Second City, also in Chicago before finally making the move to LA in 2009.
Some of his early work included the short film The Kari Files where he played a character named Chip, and My Name Is Jerry, where he played Chaz. During his early years, he also landed roles in some famous TV series like The Big Bang Theory and Law & Order: LA.
Glenn on The Walking Dead
It wasn’t long after moving to the City of Angels that he was cast in what would eventually become one of the most successful TV drama series of its time. It even became the cable TV series with the highest rating ever. For 4 seasons, the show also received the highest viewership in the 18-49 year age group.
Steven Yeun played the role of Glenn Rhee in The Walking Dead. Glenn is a main character in the show and one of the outbreak survivors that audiences are rooting for. He played the part of the primary supply runner for the survivors in Atlanta. He also saved Rick Grimes from the deluge of walkers and helped bring him back to his family. His character eventually meets and marries Maggie Greene, with whom he has a child.
Many fans of the show agree that Glenn Rhee is one of their favorite characters. The main reason is because he always tries to do the right thing. Despite the madness that goes on perpetually around him, he is able to maintain his sanity. He was always honest and helpful, despite being just like a regular guy like most of the viewers.
Steven Yeun’s Work after The Walking Dead
His Walking Dead character died in the premiere episode of Season 7, much to the chagrin of worldwide fans. After this, Steven Yeun continued to work on several successful projects not only in television, but also in film, music videos, and video games.
One of his most successful post-Walking Dead acting work was for Burning (2018), where he garnered a lot of awards for his role as Ben. This South Korean mystery drama was directed by Lee Chang-dong and was launched at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. His performance in a supporting role for this film was recognized by major award-giving bodies. This included the National Society of Film Critics Awards, the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, and the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.
Some of his recent movie roles were as Derek Cho in Mayhem (2017), K in Okja (2017), Squeeze in Sorry to Bother You (2018), and Richard in The Humans (2021). Steven Yeun has also given a lot of exemplary performances in voice acting. Not many might realize but he is also an amazing voice actor. He is the voice behind iconic characters in a number of TV series like Wan in The Legend of Korra, Steve Palchuk in Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, Keith in Voltron: Legendary Defender, Little Cato in Final Space, and Speckle in Tuca & Bertie.
Steven Yeun’s Upcoming Projects
Steven Yeun is currently busy working on a new TV series called Beef, which is now in post-production. The TV animated series Invincible is also still ongoing, where he voices main characters Mark Grayson and Invincible.
Yeun’s latest movie, Nope, has just been completed. It is scheduled for release on July 22nd in the United States. The film is about strange goings-on in a California ranch, which the owners suspect to be some kind of otherworldly force. In this R-rated sci-fi horror film directed by Jordan Peele, Yeun plays the role of Ricky “Jupe” Park and co-stars with Michael Wincott and Brandon Perea.
Yeun has also recently signed on to star opposite Robert Pattinson in Bong Joon-ho’s upcoming film based on the Edward Ashton novel Mickey7.
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