Today, Steven Yeun is known as an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated star for his work in acclaimed projects like A24’s family drama Minari and Netflix’s black comedy Beef, both of which earned him recent nods in film and TV’s respective lead acting categories. But it was his turn on AMC’s The Walking Dead that catapulted the actor to international fame.
Yeun’s Glenn Rhee, “the plucky loner” (as THR described him) of The Walking Dead, is introduced in the show’s pilot as a voice on a radio, telling Andrew Lincoln’s Rick to make a run for it while a horde of zombies devour his horse. The show premiered on Halloween in 2010 and ran for 11 seasons, racking up 16 Emmy nominations and two wins. Former pizza delivery guy Glenn became a fan favorite, known for his resourcefulness and determination and fueled by his romance with fellow apocalypse survivor Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), whom he meets in season two. Glenn and Maggie get married and have a child together — though their baby is born after Glenn’s shocking murder.
“The Walking Dead kicked off its seventh season with a pair of incredibly violent deaths,” said THR in a recap of the episode in which bad guy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed Glenn and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) with a barbed-wire-wrapped bat. Their deaths upset fans and the rest of the cast: After a live talk-back event for the show at the Hollywood Bowl, THR reported, “Through tears, Cohan noted that Glenn’s final words — ‘I will find you’ — were meant to illustrate that Maggie and Glenn are ‘star-crossed lovers.’ “
With Beef, Yeun returned to his comedy roots (he got his start at The Second City in Chicago) to play a man obsessed with revenge after a road rage incident. But he still gets recognized in public as a zombie killer. “For me, it was Glenn [from Walking Dead] for a long time. It’d be like, ‘I stopped watching when you died,’ which I don’t believe. Like, I finished all the seasons,” Yeun told THR in June. “But now they’re like, ‘Are you the guy in Beef?’ And that’s fun.”
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.