Warning: contains Walking Dead Season 7 spoilers.
Steven Yeun’s run as a central character in hit TV show The Walking Dead came to an end late last year when his character Glenn Rhee met his untimely demise at the hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
With viewers mourning the fan favourite’s brutal death, it’s comforting to know that Steven, 33, found it just as hard to adjust to a post-TV life.
“You get post-show blues, that’s a real thing,” the actor told Be during his recent visit to Australia. “It’s not the feeling of ‘Oh, I don’t get to be a part of it anymore’, its more that I don’t get to work with those people in that capacity anymore…and the loneliness that comes with knowing that you are now fully responsible for your decisions.
“That repetition in your life that was so comforting and warm is gone. Every single thing I decide has a repercussion. That was very stark. That was an adjustment. But everything else felt beautifully complete for me.”
That doesn’t mean Steven doesn’t have grieving fans approaching him daily – quite often weeping openly at seeing his still-intact face, which didn’t look so crash-hot once Negan and his baseball bat Lucille were finished with him!
“It’s weird to see people cry. People do cry. It’s the ultimate…I don’t even want to say flattery because I was just a part of it,” he says.
“But it’s f**king cool that people got to connect over something that I was a part of. That to me is really amazing. When you do find people that get emotional about it, that means that character went in deep.”
Luckily, the Korean-born star was able to keep busy, and went straight from his gig on the hit TV show to working on the Netflix film Okja, directed by Bong Joon-ho.
The movie follows the story of a young girl named Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) who will do anything to protect her best friend Okja, a giant pig-like creature who is taken by the evil Mirando Corporation led by director Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton).
Steven plays K, a member of an animal-rights activist group who try to stop Mirando’s evil plans.
“Transitioning from [The Walking Dead’s] beautiful eclectic ensemble to this beautiful eclectic ensemble was a nice transition. It wasn’t like I was jumping into a new show…it was a nice detox.”
The actor was hand-picked for the film by Director Bong, who Steven met two years prior to filming. “I probably annoyed him and talked his ear off,” Steven told Be with a laugh. “I professed my love for him professionally… and personally. Two years later he wrote me an email and said he’d written a part for me in this movie.”
The film sees Steven flexing his bilingual muscle. “It was cool to get my Korean out for the film. My Korean is decent – not perfect but good enough. It was fun to just butcher a language!”
Some more highlights of his involvement in Okja were meeting the film's producer Brad Pitt and attending the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere in May.
“I met [Brad] two times. Magical, both times. He’s f**king Brad Pitt! Brad Pitt is everything that you think he is but what makes him better is that he’s also really accessible,” Steven gushes to Be. “Then you’re like ‘I’m in’. He’s the s**t. I love Brad.”
As for the glittering Cannes event, even low-key Steve was blown away by the spectacle. “The most memorable part of the experience was walking down the carpet at the Palais,” he recalls of the Grand Lumiere Theatre where the event was held.
“I can be quite cynical. The Palais though, you step on that red carpet and it’s crazy and awesome. It was cool. Cool and awesome are the only two words I can use!”
Okja is streaming on Netflix from June 28.