December 21, 1983
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Yeon Sang-yeop|
Steven Yeun (//; Korean: 연상엽; born Yeun Sang-yeop; December 21, 1983) is a South Korean-born American actor and producer.
Yeun initially rose to prominence for his roles as Glenn Rhee in the television series The Walking Dead (2010–2016) and Ben in the film Burning (2018). The latter earned him critical acclaim and several accolades. He also starred in and executive produced Minari (2020), earning him critical acclaim and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming the first Asian American actor to receive this honor. He also became the first Asian-American actor to be nominated at the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
Yeun has also appeared in the films I Origins (2014), Okja (2017), Mayhem (2017), and Sorry to Bother You (2018), and he voiced main characters in television series such as Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016–2018), Tales of Arcadia (2016–2021), Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters (2017–2018), Final Space (2018–2021), Tuca & Bertie (2019–present), and Invincible (2021–present).
Yeun was born in Seoul on December 21, 1983 to Je and Jun Yeun. His father was an architect in South Korea before moving his family in 1988 to Canada, where they lived in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has a younger brother named Brian who was born in Canada. The family later moved to the U.S. and settled in Taylor, Michigan, and then Troy, Michigan, where Yeun lived until he graduated from Troy High School in 2001. Growing up, Yeun's family spoke Korean at home. In Regina, he attended Ruth M. Buck Elementary School.
Yeun was raised in a Christian household. His parents, who owned beauty-supply stores in Detroit, began calling him "Steven" after meeting a doctor by that name. He received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience from Kalamazoo College in 2005. At Kalamazoo, he befriended the sister of comedian Jordan Klepper and she took him to see Klepper's improv show, which inspired him to take his first acting class and later follow Klepper to Chicago, where they joined The Second City.
Yeun revealed to his parents that he planned to pursue an improv career in Chicago instead of enrolling in law school or medical school. His parents were unhappy with the decision, but supported him nonetheless and gave him two years to pursue acting. He moved to Chicago in 2005, living in the city's Lincoln Square with his brother. Shortly after graduation, he joined Stir Friday Night, a sketch comedy ensemble of Asian-American performers. Other alumni of the group include Danny Pudi from Community. He joined The Second City in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in October 2009.
Yeun's biggest role to date is the starring role of Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead, an AMC television horror drama based on the comic book series of the same name. The series began in 2010, and it involves a group of characters who fight to survive in a violent apocalyptic world infested with flesh-eating zombies. The Walking Dead became the highest-rated series in cable television history, and seasons three through six of the show garnered the most 18 to 49-year-old viewers of any cable or broadcast television series. The series has received mostly positive reviews from professional television critics. Per Variety, Yeun was "a major part" of the show's success; his character developed "from a plucky young member of the show's central group to a bona fide action hero and sex symbol". Yeun left the show in 2016 after the season 7 premiere.
In March 2016, Yeun was cast in Joe Lynch's action horror film Mayhem. The film was released in theaters on November 10, 2017. In April 2016, Yeun was cast in Bong Joon-ho's action-adventure film Okja. The film competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017. Yeun also provided the voice of Bo in 2017's The Star.
Yeun then co-starred in Boots Riley's dark comedy Sorry to Bother You alongside Lakeith Stanfield, Armie Hammer, and Tessa Thompson, which was released in theaters on July 6, 2018. The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. The film won The 2019 National Board of Review's Top Ten Independent Films award. It also won Best Screenplay and Best First Feature at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards.
In late 2018, Yeun played Ben in the South Korean mystery drama film Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong. The film was first unveiled at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. His performance in the film was acclaimed. Yeun won Best Supporting Actor at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2018, Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 2018, and 2018 National Society of Film Critics Awards.
In 2020, Yeun starred in and served as an executive producer for Lee Isaac Chung's A24 immigrant drama Minari, which also includes Youn Yuh-jung, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Will Patton and Scott Haze among the cast. The film is about a Korean immigrant family becoming farmers in Arkansas; Yeun included his own immigrant experience in his acting. The film had its world premiere and won two top awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Yeun received an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for Minari. In 2021, he was included in the Time 100, Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world for his appearance in Minari. He next will co-star alongside Jayne Houdyshell, Richard Jenkins and Amy Schumer, in Stephen Karam's award-winning one-act play adaptation The Humans.
Yeun does voice acting in both animated television series and films. Some of these roles include Avatar Wan in the second season of The Legend of Korra, Steve Palchuk in Trollhunters and 3Below, Keith in Voltron: Legendary Defender, Nathan Park/Wingspan in Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Little Cato in Final Space, and Speckle in Tuca & Bertie.
It was later revealed that Yeun's role as Steve Palchuk would continue into Wizards, the third series of the Tales of Arcadia trilogy. The first season of 3Below was released on Netflix on December 21, 2018, and the second and final season was released on July 12, 2019.
In late 2018, Yeun landed a main role in an episode of Jordan Peele's revival of The Twilight Zone. He currently voices Mark Grayson in the animated superhero series Invincible, adapting Robert Kirkman's comic book series, which released on Amazon Prime in March 2021.
Yeun married photographer Joana Pak on December 3, 2016. They reside in Los Angeles and have two children together.
Yeun is an investor in The Bun Shop, his younger brother Brian's Korean-Mediterranean fusion restaurant in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. He is a longtime fan of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings, and endorsed Andrew Yang for president in the 2020 U.S. election.
|2009||The Kari Files||Chip||Greg Grabianski||Short film|
|My Name Is Jerry||Chaz||Morgan Mead|
|2010||Carpe Millennium||Kevin||Eric McCoy||Short film|
|Blowout Sale||Customer||Timothy Kendall|
|2014||I Origins||Kenny||Mike Cahill|
|2015||Like a French Film||Steve||Shin Yeon-shick|
|Mayhem||Derek Cho||Joe Lynch|
|The Star||Bo (voice)||Timothy Reckart|
|2018||Sorry to Bother You||Squeeze||Boots Riley|
|2019||Naysayer||Ian||David M. Helman||Short Film|
|2020||Minari||Jacob Yi||Lee Isaac Chung||Also executive producer|
|2021||Space Jam: A New Legacy||Warner Bros. Executive||Malcolm D. Lee||Cameo|
|Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans||Steve Palchuk (voice)||Johane Matte
Francisco Ruiz Velasco
|The Humans||Richard||Stephen Karam|
|2010||The Big Bang Theory||Sebastian||Episode: "The Staircase Implementation"|
|2010–2016||The Walking Dead||Glenn Rhee||66 episodes|
|2011||Law & Order: LA||Ken Hasui||Episode: "Hayden Tract"|
|Warehouse 13||Gibson Rice||Episode: "Don't Hate the Player"|
|2012||NTSF:SD:SUV::||Ricky Meeker||Episode: "16 Hop Street"|
|Harder Than it Looks||Steven||Episode: "Lockdown"|
|2013||The Legend of Korra||Avatar Wan||Voice; 3 episodes|
|Filthy Preppy Teen$||Martin||Pilot|
|2014||Drunk History||Daniel Inouye||Episode: "Hawaii"|
|American Dad!||Charles||Voice; Episode: "Blagsnarst, a Love Story"|
|Comedy Bang! Bang!||Himself||Episode: "Steven Yeun Wears Rolled Up Black Jeans & No Socks"|
|2016–2018||Voltron: Legendary Defender||Keith||Voice; 64 episodes|
|Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia||Steve Palchuk||Voice; 28 episodes|
|2017–2018||Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters||Nathan Park / Wingspan||Voice; 24 episodes|
|2017||Bajillion Dollar Propertie$||Eric||Episode: "Disaster Drills"|
|Robot Chicken||Glenn Rhee
Episode: "The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking"
|2018–2021||Final Space||Little Cato
|Voice; 36 episodes|
|2018||3Below: Tales of Arcadia||Steve Palchuk||Voice; 19 episodes|
|2019||Weird City||Barsley||Episode: "Chonathan & Mulia & Barsley & Phephanie"|
|The Twilight Zone||A. Traveler||Episode: "A Traveler"|||
|I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson||Jacob||Episode: "Has This Ever Happened To You?"|||
|2019–present||Tuca & Bertie||Speckle||Voice; 15 episodes|
|2020||Wizards: Tales of Arcadia||Steve Palchuk||Voice; 10 episodes|
|2021–present||Invincible||Mark Grayson / Invincible||Voice; 8 episodes|
|2016||"Fire"||Park Jin-young (feat. Conan O'Brien & Jimin Park)|
|2007||Crysis||North Korean soldier 2||Voice|
|2017||DreamWorks Voltron VR Chronicles||Keith||Voice|
|2011||Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actor on Television||The Walking Dead||Nominated|||
|2012||Saturn Awards||Best Television Ensemble||Won|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Cast – Television Series||Won|||
|2017||BTVA People's Choice Voice Acting Award||Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series||Voltron: Legendary Defender||Won|||
|BTVA Television Voice Acting Award||Nominated|
|Brooklyn Horror Film Festival||Best Actor||Mayhem||Won|||
|2018||Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Burning||Nominated|||
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Supporting Actor||Runner-up|
|Buil Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|Grand Bell Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|Greater Western New York Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|IndieWire Critics Poll||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|Seattle Film Critics Society||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|||
|Toronto Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|2019||Austin Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|Chlotrudis Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|International Cinephile Society||Best Supporting Actor||Runner-up|||
|International Online Cinema Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|National Society of Film Critics||Best Supporting Actor||Won|||
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Santa Barbara International Film Festival||Virtuoso Award||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|||
|2021||Academy Awards||Best Actor||Minari||Nominated|||
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Chicago Indie Critics Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Columbus Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|Denver Film Festival||Excellence in Acting Award||Won|||
|DiscussingFilm Critics Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Greater Western New York Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Houston Film Critics Society||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best Male Lead||Nominated|||
|Indiana Film Journalists Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|New Mexico Film Critics||Best Actor||Nominated|
|North Carolina Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|North Texas Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Actor||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Actor||Nominated|
|San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Seattle Film Critics Society||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Nominated|