Steven Yeun has Zombies to thank for his runaway career. For six seasons Yeun played fan favorite Glenn Rhee, a pizza delivery man who became a zombie killer, on the mega hit “The Walking Dead”

Correspondent Tracy Smith asked, “Did you have any idea what you were getting into when reading for this part?”

“No, I was just trying to work, you know what I mean? I was just trying to work,” he laughed

For Yeun, Glenn represented someone who had not been seen on television before: “An Asian-American character who was not explicitly race defined or talked about in this way”

Even so, Glenn had limits. “He’s always a good guy,” said Yeun. “He always has to do the right thing. And it almost felt like he had to be useful for this Asian-American character to exist”

“So when you left ‘The Walking Dead’ was it one good roll at a time?” Smith asked

“Yes, it’s not that there is anything wrong with these things. But it’s that we can only be these things. And I think this is the battle”

But choosing his last complicated role in a movie called “Minari” was relatively easy “I read the script and was blown away,” he said. “I had tears in my eyes. It was very liberating to see a life like this how mine can be put on one page “

“Oh yeah this thing keeps leaving me in many, many tears. I cried throughout the process,” he laughed

Yeun plays Jacob, a Korean immigrant who moves his family from California to an Arkansas farm to pursue his American dream

Writer and director Lee Isaac Chung based the film (which was shot over 25 days in Oklahoma) on the story of his own family: “Jacob, he’s an interesting man. When he got to America, he decided he wasn’t wants to be with other Korean Americans And he wants to get into the wild west of Arkansas in some way alone

“To me, this movie is primarily about a family who move to a brand new place and only have each other in a completely new situation they’ve never been in,” said Chung

Yeun also saw his family’s American dream in the film: “My father, he was an architect in Korea He was fine. And he went on a business trip to Minnesota and told me that he had seen the country and said,” I have to move here “And then my father had to start over”

The Yeuns left South Korea when Steven was four and ended up in Michigan with the hope that their son might one day go to medical school

“I really broke my parents down at a young age,” said Yeun. “I didn’t give them false hope that I would become a doctor, I guess it was just like taking a bio class and then showing off I will send you the note I get so you know this is not for me “

Yeun went to college to study psychology but when he joined an improvisation group, everything changed: “It just clicked for me and I said, ‘This is fascinating'”

After graduating, he got a coveted spot with the Second City improvisation group in Chicago. His parents supported his career choice to some point: “My parents and my worried uncles and aunts told my cousin Mikey to call me for me And then Mike calls and says, “Hey man, look, my parents told me to call you to tell you to stop But just do what you want, just do it!” “

“It wasn’t that scary when I’m being honest with you I just woke up one day and said,” I have to go, I told everyone I was moving so I couldn’t stand back “

And at the tender age of 26, Yeun essentially won the casting lottery – that part of “The Walking Dead” “

“How soon after you got to LA Were you able to find work?” asked Smith

“I botched a few auditions because I was so nervous. And then, six months after I got there – which is not very popular, I apologize “

“Yeah, you know, this is usually not the traditional trip,” laughed Yeun, “So I’m very grateful”

Now, his nontraditional journey has earned the 37-year-old a slew of Oscar predictions.If they’re right, he’d be the first Asian American to be nominated for best actor for Steven Yeun, the married father of two, the film itself is a gift

“To have understood my parents so thoroughly and profoundly that I don’t think anyone else has ever seen it this way – to play it in a movie – that’s crazy!” he said

And he got to see it with his parents at Sundance “After the movie was done I looked over at my dad and then he put his hand on my shoulder and then I put, you know, I replied, and then we sobbed simply “

“It’s a reconnection I think generations are missing each other right now. So it’s the connection that makes me emotional Because I don’t know if I had what I thought it was until now”

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World news – USA – “Minari” star Steve Yeun on portraying the American dream