“Walking Dead” Alum Steven Yeun Talks Stereotypes, Basketball and Faith

The 35-year-old is starring in the Korean thriller, "Burning."

Steven Yeun
Steven Yeun attends "Burning" Photocall during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals. (Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

For the first time in his career, Steven Yeun is playing a villain. In Burning, Yeun is a cultivated libertine named Ben who drives a Porsche and listens to jazz and has a secret love of setting old greenhouses ablaze, writes GQ. The film, directed by Lee Chang-dong, is in Korean and loosely based on a short story by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It got a standing ovation at Cannes and has been dazzling audiences throughout the festival circuit.

In a new profile of the 35-year-old actor known for his work on The Walking Dead, GQ writes that Yeun is “present and thoughtful.” They discussed basketball (Yeun still remembers when his beloved Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers to win their first NBA title in 14 years and he and his friends lit a couch on fire when he was in college), fame, faith and steroetypes.

“(Burning) turns that lens and holds a mirror up to what toxic masculinity does. You watch the lead of this movie, Jong-su, take it upon himself to try to control his life, but he keeps getting shit on because he keeps complying to these masculine tropes of what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to be,” Yeun said, according to GQ. “And in some ways, Ben is the most unlocked in that way. He can be a feminist while being masculine; he can be sexy, while being potentially dangerous. There’s a weirdness to him that you don’t understand because he’s almost too free.”

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