Film & TV

Steven Yeun is an Enigma in his Latest Film 'Burning'

Catch up with actor Steven Yeun on the heels of his latest film, based on a Murakami short story.
Reading time 2 minutes

Photography by Christopher Sherman

Styling by Corey Ng

Since Steven Yeun’s fan-favorite character, Glenn, was violently bludgeoned to a pulp on season 7 of The Walking Dead, Yeun has kept busy with voiceover work, not to mention his roles in hit films like Okja and Sorry to Bother You. This fall, he’s among the lead actors in director Chang-dong Lee’s new thriller Burning, based on Haruki Murakami’s 1993 short story “Barn Burning.”

Yeun plays Ben, a mysterious rich kid interested in spending time with former lovers Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) and Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo). Many socio-economic rungs above his companions, Ben also floats above the emotional commitment required for friendship. Privileged and aloof, it’s impossible to tell what he’s thinking at any given moment—especially when it comes to Hae-mi and Jong-su.

“We really approached our outside relationships in the same ways that our characters did,” says Yeun. “Ah-In and I did not meet until Ben and Jung-su met in that scene. We kept apart for a while.”

Everything from Ben’s smirks and empty chuckles to his posh-boy posture screams charming, but possibly pathological. This is a testament to the 34-year-old’s superior theatrical skills since, in person, Yeun is nothing like his on-screen character: He’s kind and introspective, projecting a meditative chill.

“I wish I had a playbook or a trajectory [for my career], but that's the thing I let go of,” he says of his nouvelle Zen outlook. “I don't necessarily think that fortunate bouts of luck will happen all the time, but the lesson I'm getting from it is that you can't control it. Whatever happens, happens.”

 

Casting: Ian Monroe

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