A crea­ture to melt hearts

Walk­ing Dead star Stephen Yeun tells

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He is some­one who is very uniquely in a spe­cific place. He’s some­one who is Asian who doesn’t iden­tify with be­ing Asian. He’s an Asian-Amer­i­can who serves as the group’s trans­la­tor, but the Korean peo­ple around him don’t un­der­stand him and the Amer­i­can peo­ple that he’s around don’t nec­es­sar­ily as­sume he’s one of them. I spoke with di­rec­tor Bong Joon-Ho about what makes a per­son such as this join a group like the one that he’s a part of. We went into a lot of de­tail about that, which was great. It’d be re­ally nice to as­sume that I’ve made any use of that, but I don’t know that I have. I think though that psy­chol­ogy lends it­self to an un­der­stand­ing of peo­ple. What’s re­ally great is the em­pa­thy that comes from play­ing some­one dif­fer­ent, or very sim­i­lar to your­self. emo­tions for some­thing that wasn’t life­like. Bong Joon-Ho also shared images of what Okja was go­ing to look like and the ‘‘stuffie’’ was di­men­sional sim­i­lar, so we kind of knew what we were deal­ing with.

What I wasn’t pre­pared for when I saw the fin­ished prod­uct though was how in­tri­cate the emo­tion was com­ing out of this an­i­mal. When you look at the eyes of that crea­ture, they kind of bring you in and all of a sud­den they take you back to ev­ery sin­gle an­i­mal that you’ve maybe bonded with in your life­time. Yeah, we did and it was def­i­nitely very help­ful to the fi­nal prod­uct to be quite hon­est. Daniel

(Hen­shall), Paul (Dano), Lilly (Collins), Devon (Bo­stick) and I, we all hung out quite a bit and I think that bled into the work. We wouldn’t re­hearse any­thing, we’d re­ally just go into it.

It was if we were the char­ac­ters liv­ing things for the first time. I guess I was re­ally lucky to be work­ing with re­ally giv­ing, classy, pro­fes­sional ac­tors. I think this showed what’s great about them. They didn’t put their hands on any­thing, they just let di­rec­tor Bong en­act his vi­sion. He’s ad­ven­tur­ous. I think he’s very thought­ful, de­tail-ori­ented. He’s al­ready fully ren­dered the idea that he wants in his brain and then he ex­e­cutes that to a T. A lot of di­rec­tors go into sit­u­a­tions and they feel it out, they see what passes the screen and flow with it. I’m not say­ing that he’s rigid or doesn’t go with the flow, but he has such a pure idea that you get a very unique thing at the end. I think that’s some­thing every­one is try­ing to reach for. They weren’t like any crazy stunts – al­though hang­ing out the truck while it was mov­ing was in­ter­est­ing. I think the stunt where I’m com­ing out of the Han River was es­pe­cially dis­gust­ing, al­though kind of fun at the same time. No. I had a close un­der­stand­ing of how the story was go­ing to go for some time. There wasn’t any sur­prises. It was re­ally or­ganic. Scott (M Gim­ple, one of the show’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers) was re­ally won­der­ful about lead­ing me through the process and hav­ing me be a part of it as well. It’s al­ways sad to leave fam­ily, but it was re­ally beau­ti­ful, won­der­ful and I think every­one felt a feel­ing of com­plete­ness. That was nice. Never say never. I had a re­ally won­der­ful time with ev­ery­body. If it all makes sense, then who knows? I think there’s a lot of lay­ers to this film. Re­ally you could take any­thing you want from it. You could take the cor­po­rate an­gle, our re­la­tion­ship with na­ture, talk about food, what it’s re­ally like to love some­one or some­thing, our bond with each other, or the nu­ance of what it is to be good or evil – even if there is such a dis­tinc­tion.

I mean peo­ple are just them and they just do what they want to do. Even my char­ac­ter and his friends, they do ques­tion­able things for their cause.

I feel that’s the beauty of this film – that it’s more a win­dow or a mir­ror to the au­di­ence and what­ever you take from it is what­ever you take from it.

Okja is screen­ing on Net­flix now.

Steven Yeun, right, plays K, part of the An­i­mal Lib­er­a­tion Front lead by Paul Dano’s Jay.

Net­flix’s gi­ant pig-like an­i­mal Okja evokes mem­o­ries of 1980s

‘‘crea­tures’’ in­clud­ing Grem­lins’ Gizmo and The Nev­erEnd­ing Story’s Falkor the Luck Dragon.

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