Interview: Steven Yeun of ‘The Walking Dead’ Talks Season 3

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CHICAGO – One of the most popular cable series of the last three years will begin its third season on Sunday, October 14th. “The Walking Dead” emerges again on the AMC Network (9pm ET/8pm Central), as the “zombie apocalypse” within the show’s universe continues. Steven Yeun will be back as Glenn Rhee, part of a survivor group who are trying to hold their own against the “walkers” (zombies).

Steven Yeun has roots in the Midwest, after coming from South Korea with his parents and settling in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College in 2005, he pursued an improvisation comedy career in Chicago, eventually landing with “The Second City” troupe before moving to Los Angeles in 2009. He got the role of Glenn in 2010, the first season of the series.

Steven Yeun
Steven Yeun of ‘The Walking Dead’ at C2E2 in Chicago, April, 2012
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Steven Yeun was in Chicago in April at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) and talked with about “The Walking Dead.” First, a specific question about the upcoming season. What is going to happen with Carl now that Shane, the force of evil, is gone from the show? Will Carl step up and fill that role of the aggressor?

Steven Yeun We don’t know what’s going to happen [in April], because they’re writing it now. I think people are at a crossroads still in the series, it’s going to be a realization as to where you will fall in line. You see Rick changing, Glenn changing, everybody is changing. Yes, it’s going to be interesting to see what Carl does. What would you say to the fans of the original comic book version of ‘The Walking Dead’ who are disappointed that the TV series is not following some of the elements of the graphic novel?

Yeun I would say ‘don’t you like having more entertainment rather than less entertainment.’ [laughs] I know what they’re talking about, because I was a fan of the comic as well, but it’s great because you don’t really know what’s going to happen on the show, and you get to both watch the show and read the books independent of each other. When you were researching the character of Glenn Rhee, and you went back to the comic book, did you find elements about that character in the book that you’ve injected into your characterization on the show?

Yeun: Yes, with Glenn I first wanted to play the innocence at first, his initial naivete. He’s not completely naive, but he is figuring it out. That’s something that’s apparent in the comic, and that is fun to play in the series. As actors, do you get an opportunity to feedback to the production team regarding the direction of your particular characters, or is the plotting pretty precise?

Yeun: The key is consensus. We want to share the same ideas about the characters. Rather that being ‘I don’t want to do this’ and the producers or director acquiescing, it’s about how we get there together. What is great is that they trust the actors to get a grasp onto the character, and we trust them to create accordingly. It’s a very together process.

Steven Yuen
Steven Yuen as Glenn in ‘The Walking Dead’
Photo credit: AMC What has been the most surreal part of ‘The Walking Dead’-mania for you? Did that take you by surprise?

Yeun: Yeah man, it’s been insane. It’s so awesome to have people watch and enjoy something that we’ve put a lot of hard work into, and then it’s insane to actually be recognized on the street for it. I’m very grateful. I did have a moment at the doctor’s office, in a gown, and I was recognized. That was interesting. [laughs] As an Asian-American actor, do you have a role model for a career that you particularly like, or somebody who broke through that you are interested in?

Yeun: I respect all of them. Where Asian actors are now, there are still ways to go, but every single person before now have slowly broken down the barriers bit by bit, and it’s still on all of us to continue that legacy. It’s not just one person. In that realm, what do you think your dream part will be?

Yeun: My dream part would be to do a role where I’d be completely unrecognizable, to pull something off like that would be awesome.

The Season 3 Premiere of “The Walking Dead” is Sunday, October 12th, on the AMC Network at 9pm ET/8pm Central. See local cable or satellite listings for channel locations. Featuring Steven Yeun, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs and Laurie Holden. Created by Frank Darabont. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2012 Patrick McDonald,

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