Young Mazino is Beef’s breakout crypto bro
Call Sheet: The Korean-American star of Netflix/A24’s new stress-ball dramedy series relives childhood bust-ups and late nights bingeing action films.
Young Mazino remembers the first time he started beef like it was yesterday. Naturally, it all kicked off over a girl.
“In my junior year of high school, I made out with someone at a party who was apparently the love of someone else’s life,” the actor says, Zooming in from his home in Santa Monica. “I mean, they weren’t even together, but he took it like they were Romeo and Juliet. Up until college, I got in multiple fistfights with this guy – the second time, he brought a friend!”
Mazino eventually put an end to the regular bust-ups with a simple text.
“It was suburban beef, you know? We had nothing better to do than chase girls,” he says, laughing at the memory. Now, though, the 31-year-old actor is rolling with bigger punches – kind of. Starring alongside The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun and Always Be My Maybe’s Ali Wong, Mazino is about to hit screens in the Netflix-via-A24 series Beef, a stress-inducing dramedy that escalates a road rage incident to the eye-popping extreme. Acts of revenge include but are not limited to: vandalism, catfishing family members and pretending to be a handyman in order to piss all over the enemy’s bathroom floor.
But compared to the tiff in which Yeun and Wong become embroiled, Mazino’s role is relatively chill. He plays the aforementioned catfish victim, Paul, Yeun’s naive younger brother who spends most of his time trading crypto and playing games.
“He’s definitely just an extension of myself,” says Mazino. “I would be much closer to Paul had I just used crypto, games and anime as my escape. But I think Beef is the beginning of him trying to step away from that cage he’s put himself in.”
How did Young Mazino escape an insular life behind a computer screen and end up on your telly? A fancy acting school in New York helped. But really, he has his dad’s video collection to thank.
The film that made me want to get into acting is…
I would sneak down at 1am when my family was asleep and find any of the VHS tapes I wasn’t allowed to watch. I watched Braveheart and The Patriot, like, 500 times. I was also unconsciously learning how to act because I would reenact the scenes and use the long stick from the blinds as my musket. I watched True Lies a whole bunch of times, with Jamie Lee Curtis, who was astounding, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. My introduction to film was pure, good old action movies.
My plan B was…
I never really had a plan B. At one point, it just became: “I’m going to pursue the things I care about, regardless of where that leaves me.” For some reason, the only place I felt I could be myself was on a stage. I just knew that the corporate nine-to-five was something I’d like to stay away from until it became something I had to do.
The project that taught me the most about acting was…
Probably my rehearsal project at the end of my first year at [drama school] Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York. We put on a full-length [version of the Pulitzer-winning play] That Championship Season by Jason Miller and I was assigned to play the coach. He’s this waspy, racist, white basketball coach from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I went to the dean and was like: “Please give me a different role.” But he was like: “No, I want you to do this.” That was the greatest lesson because I found my own truth within this terrible person. I was saying things I would never say to anybody. But when I found humanity [in the character] that taught me to never judge anyone.
My ritual for getting into character is…
I start stretching and just try to loosen up, releasing any tension. And apparently I mumble a lot, so I also have to do my voice warm-ups. Then I’ll sit in front of the mirror, look at myself and just be like: “You can do this!”
The last TV show I binged was…
The Last of Us. And Barry with Bill Hader. It’s about this dysfunctional former Marine who gets groomed into becoming an assassin. He follows his mark into an acting class and ends up wanting to become an actor, then reinvents himself while dealing with the collateral of his past. And The Last of Us! I love Pedro Pascal, but episode three – which guest stars Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett [from The White Lotus] – is a powerful performance. That was one of the most human episodes I’ve seen on TV in a long time.
My dream role is…
They talked about making a live-action Akira. That is one of the animated films that changed the landscape of animation, especially in the West. I could play either Tetsuo or Kaneda, it doesn’t matter. But I know how hard it is to make a successful live-action anime. Many people have been trying to do it, but people need to understand that anime is not just a foreign Asian cartoon. These are master storytellers who have created rich, layered worlds full of life and drama. It’s not just material to pull some inspiration from.