If you’re lucky as an actor, you’re going to have that one moment. The one thing that puts you on the map. It could be a wonderfully dramatic role that shows the depths of your acting chops. It could be a fun comedic turn that fans latch onto. Or, it could be a classically brutal death. Something that drops the collective jaws of viewers. For Steven Yeun, it is most definitely the latter.
Here’s where Steven Yeun has been and where he’s going next, including the possibility that where he goes next could be back to The Walking Dead.
BEFORE STEVEN YEUN MET LUCILLE
Prior to Steven Yeun finding his most recognizable role as Glenn on AMC’s The Walking Dead, his beginning was brief, and for the most part, unremarkable. His first professional work came doing voice work on the video games Crysis and Warhead. His first acting gig came in the little-known and seen Jerry.
He slowly moved on to a few short projects titled The Kari Files, Carpe Millennium, and Blowout Sale. Then, the young actor was seen in the TV series The Big Bang Theory and Lemons the Show before Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead entered his life.
STEVEN YEUN AS THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE WALKING DEAD
Steven Yeun’s first appearance on The Walking Dead wasn’t on screen. Instead, his introduction came with his voice. He’ss on the radio attempting to save Rick from a horde of zombies. It’s in the series’ second episode that Steven Yeun as Glenn was seen for the first time on screen. Glenn immediately became a fan favorite.
The character of Glenn appears in both The Walking Dead comic book series and the TV series. The difference from the comic to the series is that comic book Glenn is simply known as Glenn. This version of the character is never given a last name. In the series, Steven Yeun’s Glenn has a last name: Rhee. In both versions, Glenn is a pizza delivery boy. He is well known for his fast and resourceful thinking, making him the go-to guy when it comes to getting supplies for the group.
Steven Yeun’s Glenn meets Maggie, the future love of his life and mother to his child, during the series’ second season. This is also the season that he and Maggie hook up. The scene is played for laughs as Glenn accidentally grabs a box of condoms while out on a supply run with Maggie. She then seduces him, putting an exclamation point on their growing relationship.
Over the remainder of Steven Yeun’s time on The Walking Dead, he was a constant source of light in the darkness that was the zombie apocalypse. His relationship with Lauren Cohen’s Maggie was also the source of hope, especially when she ended up pregnant with Glenn’s baby.
On more than one occasion, Glenn was caught in life or death situations and many times his fate looked more than sealed. Yet time after time, Glenn would somehow escape the danger. Then came Negan and with Negan came Negan’s best friend, Lucille.
Glenn’s death was a known fact to anyone who had read the comic book series. How Glenn’s fate was determined was also a known fact. So going in to the show, Steven Yeun knew his character would die. In the comics eventually Glenn was introduced to the working end of Lucille, Negan’s barb-wired wrapped bat. It was a brutal end, even by comic book standards. For a while there, it looked like Steven Yeun might actually survive Glenn’s comic book fate on the television show, though.
In the TV series, when Negan has his potential victims lined up, he plays a deadly game of eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Instead of choosing Glenn as he did in the comics, Negan picks Abraham and proceeds to beat his head to a pulp. This vicious death came at the end of season six. But before the closing moments of the episode, Negan picks out one more person and swings. Fans were left for an entire summer wondering just who Negan chose as his final victim.
When the series resumed, many fans believed the victim would be Glenn because of the comics. They were immediately shown their answer in the premiere. It was Glenn, and in one of the most graphic and controversial deaths in The Walking Dead series, Negan proceeds to bash in Glenn’s head. So came the end of Steven Yeun’s time on The Walking Dead.
The scene is so graphic that it shows, in an impressive trick of digital wizardry, Steven Yeun getting smashed and his eye being dislocating from his head. It also shows him saying his last words, with his smashed-in head and dislocated eye, telling Maggie, “Maggie, I’ll find you.” It was a heart-breaking end, not only for the character and Maggie but fans alike. In fact, many felt the scene was too graphic and it turned off some viewers. Steven Yeun’s death and departure precipitated a slow decline in The Walking Dead’s popularity.
Steven Yeun’s Glenn Rhee was ranked number 6 in a Rolling Stone list of the top 30 The Walking Dead characters. Of Rhee, Rolling Stone acknowledged that his death was a turning point for the series. They also stated that he was the heart and soul of the show.
Here is their comment concerning Steven Yeun’s portrayal of Glenn Rhee: “It says something about how beloved Glenn is that his death at the start of Season Seven has been the last straw for many The Walking Dead fans, several of whom have stopped watching the show because of it – even though what happened to the character on TV was taken directly from the comics. Prior to his murder, the ever-upbeat ex-delivery man had been in the series as long as Rick, and though he’d seemed to be dead multiple times before, our man Glenn somehow persevered each and every time … except the last time. His final fate appears to mark a turning point in the plot, signaling the end of the survivor’s can-do spirit and the dawn of despair. For many, Steven Yuen’s character was the heart and soul of the show.”
LIFE AFTER DEATH
For Steven Yeun, there was life after his brutal death by Lucille. There was actually life during his time on The Walking Dead. His popularity on the show brought him roles in projects such as Law & Order: LA, Filthy, The Legend of Korra, The Soup, and Drunk History. After his time on Dead ended, Yeun did what he could to shed his Glenn Rhee image.
Steven Yeun was seen in several critically acclaimed movies such as Okja and Burning. Yeun has also lent his voice to quite a few projects that include Trollhunters: Treasure of Arcadia, Stretch Armstrong & the Flex Fighters, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Tuca & Bertie, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Final Space, Wizards, and the upcoming Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans.
While his time in front of the camera has been limited the past couple years, Steven Yeun has been keeping himself busy with voice work.
STEVEN YEUN NOW
Now 36-years-old Steven Yeun has two children with his wife, Joan Pak. The couple married in 2016. He’s set to appear in the critically acclaimed movie Minari next. Here’s the first trailer for Minari…
Like many actors and actresses, Steven Yeun also has interests outside of acting. He is part owner, along with his younger brother, of The Bun Shop, a Korean-Mediterranean fusion restaurant located in Los Angeles, CA.
Steven Yeun has stated many times that he has moved on from the character Glenn Rhee after his brutal death at the hands of Negan. He said via Indiewire, “Sometimes people pitch to me, ‘Dude, wouldn’t it be so cool if you did a Glenn origin movie?’” he said. “And I’m like, ‘No, that’d be horrible.’ That was so long ago. I was another person. I don’t think I could go back there. That person was inherently trapped in whatever people thought he was. I fed into it and I believed in it, too — until I got out.”
There have been rumors that the upcoming new Walking Dead spinoff show Tales of the Walking Dead may resurrect Glenn and bring back Steven Yuen. Given his popularity, don’t be surprised if it happens, even if Yuen says he’s done with the character.