Oscars 2021: ‘Minari’ stars react to historic nominations

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Yuh-Jung Youn has all the time appreciated watching the Oscars. From her native South Korea, she’d tune into the telecast to play a kind of “fortune teller,” predicting which performers would take residence Academy Awards.

“If I used to be proper,” she mentioned, “I used to be very pleased with myself. And often, I used to be proper.”

She thought of herself a part of the viewers, by no means imagining herself onstage regardless of her acclaim as an actress in Asia. The glamorous Hollywood ceremony was one other “aspect of the world’s story,” she mentioned. “It was not my story in any respect.”

So when she heard Monday that she and “Minari” costar Steven Yeun had develop into the primary Korean performers to ever obtain Oscar nominations — she within the supporting actress class, he as a lead actor — she struggled to metabolize the information.

“It’s very unusual to me. I don’t know the right way to describe it with my lack of English, however I’m attempting to talk from my coronary heart. That is greater than sufficient. I really feel like I’m already a winner,” mentioned Youn, 73. She was settling again into her residence in Korea when the nominations had been introduced about 10 p.m. domestically, having simply returned from a job in Vancouver, Canada, a few hours earlier than. As a result of she had but to be vaccinated for COVID-19, she was underneath a compulsory 14-day quarantine, celebrating with a glass of Champagne and puffing on a vape pen.

“I’m manner over 70, so I can do no matter I need in my home,” she mentioned with fun.

Yuh-Jung Youn in "Minari."

Yuh-Jung Youn, seen right here in “Minari,” on Monday grew to become one of many first Korean performers to earn an Oscar nomination.


“Minari,” which earned six nominations, together with for greatest image, follows a household of Korean American immigrants trying to begin their very own farm in Nineteen Eighties Arkansas. Youn performs the household’s grandmother, who agrees to maneuver right into a bare-bones trailer to assist increase the grandchildren whereas her son-in-law (Yeun) toils away on his new plot of land.

Yeun, 37, was born in Seoul however moved to Canada together with his household when he was 5. Like his costar — whom he mentioned he spoke with from Los Angeles on Monday — he too grew up feeling that the Oscars had been inaccessible to him. However he additionally had combined emotions about headlines singling him out as the primary Asian American nominee in his class.

“From my perspective, I’m simply doing me,” mentioned the actor, who was celebrating by consuming a chia seed pancake his spouse had cooked for him. “I’m very lucky that I’ve been capable of do work that feels pulled from my place. I carry with me so many issues — together with being Korean and Asian American. I’m glad and comfortable that I may be contributing to a bigger, deeper understanding of who we’re to one another. However I’m actually simply attempting to play my half in addition to I can.”

Since “Minari” debuted on the Sundance Movie Pageant in January 2020, each he and Youn have generated robust vital reward for his or her work. Youn, who has been known as “the Meryl Streep of Korea” by quite a few American publications, acknowledged that she’s discovered the nice and cozy reception “sort of nerve-racking.”

“I attempted to not take heed to that, as a result of I didn’t suppose it might occur to me,” she mentioned. “I do know being known as the Korean Meryl Streep is a praise, however for me, by some means it was not snug. She’s a worldwide well-known woman. I’m simply Yuh-Jung Youn from Korea. Everyone is completely different. I wish to be myself, all the time. I felt sorry for me and her to be in contrast collectively.”

Actor Steven Yeun.

Steven Yeun, 37, is the primary Asian American lead actor to be nominated for an Oscar.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Occasions)

Youn has labored for many years in Korea, however “Minari” was the primary film she made within the U.S. In Vancouver, she simply wrapped her third North American venture — an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko” for Apple TV+. Whereas she mentioned she has loved the expertise of doing worldwide press, she isn’t sure whether or not or not she needs to proceed appearing exterior her nation.

“I’m a really home individual, and I used to be very content material with my job and my profession,” she mentioned. “I wish to be talking in my very own tongue. It’s very snug. But when there’s an opportunity for somebody who can’t communicate English effectively, like me, I like a problem. Perhaps I can strive, although I remorse it proper after, as a result of it’s tiring and an excessive amount of for me.”

If she has the “energy and power,” she mentioned, she want to journey to L.A. for the Oscars, deeming it a “lifetime expertise.”

Yeun, in the meantime, was nonetheless centered on digesting the optimistic information after a head-spinning yr crammed with a lot tumult.

“I’m nonetheless processing what that is. That’s actually the place I’m at: What is that this? Particularly with the backdrop of this final yr,” mentioned Yeun, who starred on the zombie sequence “The Strolling Lifeless” for six years.

“I’m nonetheless determining what’s occurred to us and the place we’re at. [The year] has torn a veil off for all of us — eliminated a layer. In some methods, I’m grateful for that. However I acknowledge how scary that’s. A number of establishments acquired seen for what they had been — the brokenness for what they had been. I’m glad for it, as a result of I believe we will rebuild.

“However I acknowledge lots of people are scared, as a result of the protection we thought was there’s additionally revealed to not be what we thought it was. It’s a brilliant f—ed up yr. So these are cool issues — this nomination — I’m thrilled and I’m so blessed that I get to expertise this. However I’m attempting to carry each issues directly, and it’s troublesome.”

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