Beef Star Young Mazino Doesn’t Do Anything Halfway


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When Beef roared onto Netflix in April, audiences found themselves simultaneously stressed and exhilarated by the road rage–fueled drama that unfolds between its protagonists, Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) and Amy Lau (Ali Wong). They also discovered a new object of affection—or lust, rather—in Paul Cho, Danny’s lost but lovable (and incredibly jacked) younger brother, played by Young Mazino. The fact that Paul turns out to be more than just a one-dimensional himbo is a testament to Mazino’s sympathetic performance, which led him to his first Emmy nomination. Prior to landing the breakout role, the 31-year-old, raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, hit the pavement (literally) as an extra in series like Blue Bloods and Blindspot. In those days, Mazino never imagined he’d be where he is now. “I remember laying down, trying to be dead in the snow, with the elite actors talking over my body, and thinking to myself, I’m going to make it,” he recalls. He quickly adds, “I’m just kidding. I wasn’t thinking that at all.”

This interview was conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

When you were growing up, did you always want to be an actor?

That was always prevalent in my life. My father, he’s a computer engineer. He’s also very Christian and has a strong belief in God, so there’s a weird theology, mixed in with education, that was impressed upon me. But I was always in my own world. That was a point of contention for a lot of years because I just would not do what was asked of me by anyone.

When was the first time you were cast in something?

I played King Herod in a Bethlehem play in my elementary school, which was the first moment where I got to play an antagonist. Growing up, I was supposed to be this good, well-natured kid, and getting to leave that box was very liberating. That’s when the acting bug bit me.

When you got to be the villain.

Yeah. King Herod was trying to kill baby Jesus, and I never felt more thrilled in my life. But I still pray, so there’s a bit of a weird duality within.

There seem to be some similarities between you and Paul Cho. Did you relate to him at all?

Paul is a character I share a lot with. He’s essentially an extension of myself. If there was an alternate timeline where, when faced with an existential crisis, I chose to shrink away from that—that would be Paul. Perhaps I just made different choices as I was growing up.

Mazino as Paul Cho on the set of Beef.


Did you watch much TV as a kid?

It was very limited. I wasn’t allowed to watch anything that was deemed inappropriate or immoral, which was a lot. But I found a way. I would wait for my parents to leave the house, and I would watch all the things I wasn’t allowed to watch. I would raid my dad’s VCR cabinets, and I loved to watch True Lies with Jamie Lee Curtis. That one particular scene when she’s dancing, that was great.

You dropped out of school in order to pursue a career in acting. How did your parents handle that?

My parents were really adamant that I finish college, and I was adamant that I was going to leave. It was a very tense dinner when I announced my departure. I was going to New York with no plan, no money, no anything. I just had to get away. I was disillusioned with what they say is the right way to live, which is: get your degree, get your nine-to-five, get your benefits, get married, have kids, buy a house. I understand that is a dream to many, but at the time I wanted something else. I wanted something more. I wanted to pursue something I actually cared about.

Acting is obviously a tough business to break into. What kept you going?

It was a delusion of grandeur that stayed with me because I was so naive about how difficult pursuing acting would be. But at a certain point, I had too big of a chip on my shoulder to go back home empty-handed.

What’s your zodiac sign?

I was born August 27th. I’m a Virgo, but I think I’m on the cusp.

Do you think you align with the idea of a Virgo man?

Virgo men are cool, but they can also get tunnel vision on something, which I see in myself. I can care about things obsessively. It’s why I’m careful about what I fixate on and I’m very selective about who I let into my space, because if you are part of my circle, I will give you everything that I have.

Prada blazer, tank, trousers, and shoes; Rebecca Turbow belt; his own necklace.

Where was your first kiss?

My first kiss with someone I loved was in New York. We were walking after a nice dinner. I was wearing a baseball cap, and I turned to kiss her. I headbutted her with the tip of my hat, and that was awkward. Then I took my hat off and we kissed, so that was really nice.

What sort of advice did you get from Steven Yeun on set?

I probably annoyed the hell out of Steven by asking him a thousand things about everything—relationships, work, the business. But one thing that Steven imparted to me was that the truth of the moment always comes after the moment. When we’re in something, we’re kind of reacting to it as best we can. It’s always in hindsight, in the introspection, that we uncover all the insight and the wisdom that the universe is trying to impart to us.

Hair by Edward Lampley at CLM for Mr. Smith; skin by Susie Sobol at PM Artists for Sobol Inc; manicure by Honey at Exposure NY for NAVYA Nail Lacquer; Set Design by Spencer Vrooman.

Produced by AP Studio, Inc.; Executive Producer: Alexis Piqueras; Producer: Anneliese Kristedja; Production Managers: Anna Blundell, David Duque-Estrada; Production Coordinator: Ellen Kozarits; Photo Assistants: Matt Yoscary, Josua Jimenez; Retouching: Matty So; Fashion Assistants: Tori López, Tyler VanVranken, India Reed, Tori Leung; Production Assistants: Linette Estrella, Ariana Kristedja, Alan Bell, Nico Marti, Ryan Qiu; Hair Assistants: Marvin Tarver, Anna Soares; Makeup Assistants: Tanya Marques, Riccardo Delgado; Manicure Assistant: Shani Newsome; Tailor: Lindsay Wright; Set Design Assistants: Will Cragoe, Christina O’Neil, Joseph Ahern.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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