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What Steven Yeun Has Been Up To Since The Walking Dead

Steven Yeun broke many a zombie fan's heart when he left AMC's "The Walking Dead" in 2016. The tragic and violent loss of his beloved character, former pizza delivery boy Glenn Rhee, has haunted the show's audience ever since — and the way he went out, via the baseball bat of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), often ranks high on lists which chronicle the show's saddest or most upsetting deaths.

After leaving "The Walking Dead" behind, Yeun has gotten on with his career and life, and in spectacular fashion. He's almost always busy, with a resume that includes everything from a recurring role on a well-known adult animated series to a part which put him in Oscar contention. Whether he's on the big screen or in the recording booth, his career has included everything from gentle family dramas to raucous comedic parodies: His acting choices are nothing if not eclectic, and it's also a lot to keep up with if you're not familiar with his oeuvre. 

With that said, here's what Yeun has been doing since retiring Glenn's baseball cap.

Steven Yeun has been involved with Monsters, Bong, and Blood

Steven Yeun launched his post-"Walking Dead" career with two incredibly different projects that both came out in 2017. First, the actor appeared in 2017's "Mayhem," a gory horror-comedy in which he co-stars with Samara Weaving ("Ready or Not"). In the movie, he portrays the wrongfully-fired Derek Cho, who soon finds himself fighting for his life when trapped in his quarantined office building. Someone has released a virus through the vents which encourages the infected to act out their wildest impulses, which means a whole lot of unhinged violence is afoot. Alongside his former co-worker, Melanie Cross (Weaving), Derek must fight his way to freedom.

Released that same year was "Okja," directed and written by future Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho. The drama-fantasy film — which is an allegory for factory farming — was released through Netflix. Yeun portrays K in "Okja," a part he was offered six months after bumping into Joon Ho during a "Walking Dead" press junket, according to an Entertainment Weekly interview. The movie tells the story of a young girl named Mija (An Seo Hyun), the guardian of a mysterious and gentle beast named Okja, who has been targeted by an American company which wishes to make money off of it. This would mark the first of many collaborations Yeun has undertaken with Netflix.

If you like Voltron, you've heard Steven Yeun's voice

While Steven Yeun began voicing Keith in "Voltron: Legendary Defender" the same year his "The Walking Dead" commitments ended, the Netflix-based reboot of the popular 1980s series would stretch on for several years, ultimately ending in 2018. Keith was the leader of the paladin group, which was tasked with defending the galaxy against evil alien forces led by the wicked King Zarkon. 

In Los Angeles Times interview, Yeun explained that his "complicated" and "hotheaded for a reason" character on the show, Keith, "thinks with his heart often, and sometimes his heart is very fiery, and I think that leads him to brash decisions."

Yeun also began work on Netflix and DreamWorks' Guillermo del Toro-created animated series franchise "Trollhunters" during this same time period. Yeun's character, Steve Palchuk, appears in "Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia," its spin-off, "3Below: Tales of Arcadia" the miniseries "Wizards" and in the 2021 movie "Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans."

Steven Yeun wasn't sorry to bother you

"Sorry To Bother You," Boots Riley's satire of corporate greed, was Steven Yeun's next film. He popped up as Squeeze in the 2018 release, which also brought actress Tessa Thompson to wider acclaim.  The film saw Squeeze attempt to build a union and stand strong against the telemarketing company RegalView, which has a jaw-dropping secret lying behind its power. The absurd (and not-so-absurd) reality of corporate gamesmanship then sets in. The film's wild combination of science fiction, drama and satire drew attention from the art house crowd, and the audience soon embraced the film and Yeun's character.

Talking about the character in an interview with Vox, Yeun said, "What was great about playing Squeeze was the place that he operated from. He was seasoned. He had seen things before. He understood the world in that way, where he's not too high, and he's not too low — he is really truly trying to just be a part of a greater machine that can help overturn these terrible human atrocities."

Steven Yeun reached even greater heights with Minari

"Minari" provided yet another breakthrough for Steven Yeun. The film is a quiet drama about the Yis, a Korean-American family trying to establish a small farm in 1980s Arkansas, and took critics by storm when it was released in 2020. Yeun portrays Jacob, the family's patriarch. Jacob, his wife Monica (Yeri Han), two children — David (Alan S. Kim) and Anne (Noel Kate Cho) – and Monica's foul-mouthed and loving mother Soon-ja (Oscar winner Yuh-Jung Youn) have to sacrifice much to find water and a crop which will grow on their land, but ultimately find triumph, solace and success on their patch of earth. Along the way, they have to battle marital problems, as well as worries about David's heart condition, and an exhausting day job that Jacob and Monica must undertake to keep the farm afloat ... to say nothing of increasing concerns about the health of Soon-ja.

Yeun was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 2021 Oscars, which he lost to Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Steven Yeun is also Bertie's boyfriend

Since 2019, Steven Yeun has played a major part of the hit animated series "Tuca & Bertie," about two anxious, single, anthropomorphic birds living in the big city. Specifically, Yeun voices Speckle, an architect robin, who is Bertie (Ali Wong)'s erstwhile boyfriend. He is notable for his kindness and protective nature toward Bertie, and his friendship toward the vivacious Tuca. The three of them often find themselves off on joint adventures together, with Speckle being almost as important to the narrative as the two birds in the title. Speckle has become very popular with members of the show's audience, as explained by Vulture, many of whom have taken to referring to Speckle as "Best Boy."

"Tuca & Bertie" started life on Netflix, but it was cancelled after one season. Cartoon Network revived it for its Adult Swim block of mature animated programs, and there it has thrived, earning a recent Season 3 renewal, ensuring that Yeun's Speckle will continue entertaining viewers.

You'll be able to catch Steven Yeun in Jordan Peele's new movie next year

While Steven Yeun has racked up a lot of wins in the past few years, he has more big projects ahead. The first one is the lead role in Jordan Peele's "Nope," which is scheduled for a July 22, 2022 release. As with Peele's prior two horror films, "Get Out" and "Us," little has been revealed about "Nope" in advance, other than a mysterious teaser poster. Other than Yeun, the film also stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. The supporting cast includes Barbie Ferreira, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott.

The other project on Yeun's plate is "Beef," also slated for a 2022 release, which is a comedy series that unites Yeun in the flesh with his "Tuca & Bertie" co-star Ali Wong. There is no word where the series will air, but the plot involves a couple who is consumed by a road rage incident, which poisons their actions towards one another and others in their orbit.

It's quite an interesting slate of upcoming projects, either of which might just make Yeun one of the most talked-about actors of 2022. We'll have to keep watching his star rise to see how high he'll climb.