March 21, 2023
Press Releases

Ali Wong, Steven Yeun and Showrunner Lee Sung Jin Talk Complexities of Dark Comedy Series Beef in Emmy Magazine

Based on a personal road-rage experience, Emmy-nominated producer Lee Sung Jin's genre-defying passion project, Beef, premieres Thursday, April 6, on Netflix. Along with stars Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, Lee talks with emmy magazine about the method and the madness behind bringing this story to life. The award-winning official publication of the Television Academy is on newsstands March 23.

Sonny (as Lee Sung Jin is known) remembers with great detail the day the premise for Beef was hatched. Stopped at a red light, the showrunner checked his phone for directions. Unaware the light had changed, he was surprised to see a driver pull up next to him, yell obscenities and speed off. Without hesitation, Sonny punched the gas. "I had no plan, other than to follow the guy home. Not my proudest moment, but I wanted him to feel a bit of fear."

A car chase ensued through freeway traffic, ending when the pursued driver pulled over to call the police. Sonny's response, "I lowered the window, flashed him the 'I'm looking at you' hand gesture—which I'd never done in my entire life—and zoomed off." Returning home, he scribbled down three words—road rage show—and took the idea to production company A24.

Seven pitches later, he had seven offers, and ultimately landed at Netflix. Wong plays Amy Lau, driver of a polished Mercedes with a seemingly perfect life; Yeun is Danny Cho, a depressed, low-rent handyman driving a battered pickup. When a near collision ignites a car chase between the two, their worlds collide, triggering a cycle of escalating retribution.

In "To Hatch a BEEF," emmy talks to the cast and creator about the dark comedy that evolves into a domestic drama filled with thrills and social satire. Along the way Sonny explores universal themes including marriage, family, infidelity, success, religion and loneliness.

Wong, an Emmy nominee who began her career as a standup comic, signed on immediately. "Honestly, whatever it was that Sonny pitched, I would have said yes," she says. "This was an opportunity to express a lot of the feelings and sentiments and internal thoughts that I have not found a way to talk about onstage in my standup act."

Yeun also comes from a comedic background, having toured with Second City. "In comedy, you have to explore things that are deeply shameful to get to some semblance of truth," he says. "If your mind is trained to do that, maybe it's not so difficult to bare your soul when acting in a dramatic role."

"I'm not a very method-y actor, but playing this role really had an effect on me," Wong says. "It was intense, unlike anything I had ever done before." In fact, both actors broke out in a rash after wrapping the season; but Yeun says it was all worth it: "People will laugh at the characters because all of us share the same pain. Sometimes BEEF is so cringe, sometimes it feels so pathetic and sad, and sometimes it feels so beautiful in its tragedy. My hope is that the audience connects to the story's universality."

Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:

  • Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight returns to television with several projects, including Great Expectations (FX) and Rogue Heroes (MGM+). In "A Knight's Tale," emmy talks with Knight about his writing process and the personal connections that come with it.
  • In "Times of Endearment," Andie MacDowell and Chyler Leigh talk with emmy about starring in the new Hallmark original scripted series The Way Home. The acting duo play mother and daughter in this multi-generational drama with a time-travel twist.
  • Emmy-nominated actor J. Smith-Cameron sits down with emmy in "Mother Figure Superior" to talk about her method for portraying Waystar Royco interim CEO Gerri Kellman on HBO's Succession. Season four of the popular series premieres Sunday, March 26.

About emmy
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. With wide-ranging, inclusive subjects representative of the Television Academy membership and the medium as a whole, emmy showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make it happen, from the stars of top shows and artisans behind the cameras, to programming trends and technological advances. Honored with dozens of awards for editorial excellence, emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.

Download the press release here

For issue/coverage contacts:

Stephanie Goodell

breakwhitelight for the Television Academy

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