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Why Roger From Asteroid City Looks So Familiar

The cast list for "Asteroid City" is long and impressive. The film, which takes in a fictional American desert town during a 1955 Junior Stargazer convention, is shaping up to be the latest memorable addition to writer-director Wes Anderson's already long line of beloved ensemble comedies. Its stars include everyone from bona fide screen legends like Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum to popular performers like Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Hong Chau, Tilda Swinton, Steve Carell, and many, many more.

While he isn't quite as well-known as many of his co-stars, Stephen Park is also set to appear in "Asteroid City." The actor stars in the film as Roger Cho, one of the many adult residents of the film's eponymous American town. The film, notably, doesn't mark the first time that Wes Anderson has worked with Park, who has been appearing in popular and acclaimed movies and TV shows ever since the late 1980s.

Taking all of that into account, here are some of the films "Asteroid City" viewers may have seen Park in before.

Stephen Park made his screen debut in Do the Right Thing

It would be a massive understatement to say that Stephen Park got his acting career off on the right foot. The actor made his screen debut back in 1989 in writer-director Spike Lee's acclaimed drama, "Do the Right Thing." The film, which sees Lee bring his uniquely searing, brash perspective to important issues like systemic racism and multiculturalism, takes place in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. It follows its various characters as the tensions between them, most of which are fueled by their own bigotry, slowly but surely bubble and rise to the surface.

Park, for his part, stars in the film as Sonny, the Korean owner of a supermarket in the film's central Brooklyn neighborhood. Over the course of the film, Sonny has various memorable interactions with the film's other characters and he ultimately gets caught up in the same third-act rush of violence as everyone else. When Sonny is eventually forced to try and protect his family and their store from total destruction, Park briefly gets the chance to turn the film's spotlight on himself. In other words, despite the stacked nature of the film's cast, Park still manages to rise out of obscurity with his passionate performance as Sonny.

He brought it all in one legendary scene in Fargo

In 1996, Stephen Park hijacked one memorable scene in Joel and Ethan Coen's Oscar-winning crime dramedy, "Fargo." The actor appears in the film as Mike Yanagita, a former high school classmate of Frances McDormand's kindhearted, clear-eyed Minnesotan police officer, Marge Gundersen. Mike only appears on-screen once in the film when McDormand's pregnant Marge goes to have lunch with him at a hotel restaurant. Once there, Marge finds herself taken aback by Mike, who not only attempts to strike up a romance with her but also experiences a total emotional breakdown in front of her.

As a character, Mike has next-to-nothing to do with the primary plot of "Fargo," and the reason for his inclusion in the film isn't immediately apparent. Mike Yanagita has, consequently, been the subject of many discussions about the film in the decades since it was originally released. However, while the sheer oddness of Mike's non-role in "Fargo" is part of the reason why he's become such an enduring figure, the power of Park's performance as the character shouldn't be understated.

Despite showing up and disappearing in the film with the same swiftness, Park brings a level of emotional intensity that's, frankly, startling to watch. It's his performance as Mike, in fact, that elevates the character's sole appearance from pure cringe to something that's a little more fascinating and complex.

Park gave a scene-stealing performance in A Serious Man

13 years after he showed up and stole a scene in Joel and Ethan Coen's "Fargo," Stephen Park did the same thing again in the duo's acclaimed 2009 dark comedy, "A Serious Man." Written and directed by the Coens, the film follows Michael Stuhlbarg's Larry Gopnik, a Jewish Midwestern physics teacher, as he tries to find some kind of explanation for all of his recent, life-changing setbacks. Along the way, Larry agrees to take a meeting with one of his students, Clive Park (David Kang), who tries to bribe him into giving him a passing grade.

Stephen Park appears later in "A Serious Man" as Clive's unnamed father, who personally speaks with Larry in one of the film's most memorable scenes. During the moment in question, Park's character not only threatens to sue Larry for defamation if he tells anyone that his son tried to bribe him but then tells him that he'll sue him if he doesn't take the money and give his son the grade he desires. When Larry rightly calls out the contradictory nature of those two threats, Park's curt father memorably tells him to "accept the mystery."

The line has become a topic of debate among fans, many of whom believe that it may be the key to some of the film's unanswered questions. The scene itself, meanwhile, boasts the same sense of awkward comedy that the Coen Brothers have become known for. Much like he does in "Fargo," Park also manages to leave a lasting impression in a relatively short amount of screen time.

He played a gifted chef in The French Dispatch

"The French Dispatch" isn't just one of the most ornate and inventively structured films that Wes Anderson has ever made. It's also the first of the director's films that counts Stephen Park among its stars.

The "Fargo" and "Do the Right Thing" actor appears in the anthological film's second-to-last section, which follows Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright), a writer for the film's eponymous magazine, as he attends a private dinner hosted by the Commissaire (Mathieu Amalric) of a local police force. The dinner itself goes hilariously and disastrously off the rails when the Commisaire's son is kidnapped, but the memorable "French Dispatch" section doesn't conclude without circling back around to Stephen Park's Lt. Nescaffier, the legendary policeman chef that just so happens to be the reason why Wright's Roebuck agreed to attend the meal-gone-wrong in the first place.

In one melancholic black-and-white scene, Roebuck recounts the conversation he and Nescaffier had after the latter chose to willingly ingest poison in order to save his boss' kidnapped son. The conversation in question touches on the lingering displacement that is commonly felt by immigrants, and Park's quiet, dazed performance as the sick Nescaffier allows the character's heartbreaking private remarks to land with full force. Based solely on his work in this one "French Dispatch" scene, it's not hard to see why Anderson chose to reteam with Park for "Asteroid City."