You never know what in life could be the final straw for someone. What can go wrong between two individuals in the heat of the moment is delightfully explored in the new Netflix comedy Beef, which debuts on April 6.
Beef, which Lee Sung Jin based on his own experience with road rage, follows the fallout from a confrontation between two strangers: Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), a struggling contractor who believes that everyone is against him, and Amy Lau (Ali Wong), a successful businesswoman with what appears to be the ideal life. Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, David Choe, and Patti Yasutake complete the impressive cast.
Yeun said that despite the outrageous nature of his character, he was able to relate to and make Danny, who is all about settling disputes, seem real. He attributed the inspiration for his performance to Jin’s writing.
“I think that acting to some degree is the art of bringing a little bit of yourself to these roles,” Yeun said. “But I think that Sonny really excavated this character and he wrote something so true that it felt like who isn’t this person? Who aren’t these people? So it felt very relatable. Every character felt relatable to me. Sometimes I feel like Amy, sometimes I feel like Danny, sometimes I feel like George. There are so many many characters that everyone can identify with.”
“I feel the same way,” Wong added. “I think that it was Sonny’s goal for every audience member to walk away with a different favorite character and to not have it be a landslide to me or to Danny but you know, maybe people are rooting for Team George or Team Naomi. It’s a really colorful cast of extremely beautiful, complicated and flawed characters.”
Wong talked about her involvement in the East Coast vs. West Coast beefs between 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. in the 1990s when she was a teenager.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, but I grew up mostly at the height of Biggie vs 2Pac,” Wong said.
According to Yeun, for a quarrel in hip-hop to be considered a true battle, it must be a match between equals.
“After making this show, the thing that I really see about beef, especially in the Hip Hop world, is that it’s not real beef or a battle unless the rappers are equals. They have to be evenly matched,” Yeun argued. “Sometimes, I think they secretly probably really love each other and really respect each other. That’s why they beef. You know what I’m saying?”
The actor who plays George in the show, Joseph Lee, has talked about how he recognized aspects of himself in the role and how it influenced how he approached each scene.
“George obviously comes from a completely different background and family circumstances as myself,” Lee explained. “But, Sonny, really provided enough seeds in there from a human standpoint for me to really connect with George.”
Yeun and Wong were interested in the series, which attracted young Mazino, who portrays Paul, to the screenplay. He initially believed he wouldn’t get a call back.
“I mean it’s A24, Netflix, Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, the series was definitely stacked. I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m getting this.’ Then I sent the tape. I don’t need to hear anything else. Let’s make this happen. I was excited to find out that I would be a part of the cast,” Mazino said.
“The writing in the audition process was very, very solid. It definitely stood out for sure,” Lee added.
Lee didn’t think twice to declare a classic song as his all-time favorite diss track when it came to rap beefs.
“To me, I think Nas’ ‘Ether’ is just one of the greatest songs of all time, even if it’s a diss track. It’s just it’s pure magic,” Lee said. “But I would have to go with Nas as my favorite track about beef.”
As an alternative response to the feud debate, Mazino honored the great MF DOOM, one of his favorite rappers.
“I would say MF DOOM and mortality. I wish mortality went away because I think MF DOOM was GOAT,” he said. “God bless his soul.”
Netflix is now streaming beef!