“I never dreamed that I’d be coming to Hollywood,” says Yeri Han from a hotel room. As the star of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning film Minari, Hollywood is precisely where Han now finds herself. When we speak, it’s four days before the Oscars, where the film was nominated for the coveted Best Picture award, among many others. “I’m not sure if I’m ready for the awards show,” she says, shrinking into her dressing gown. “It’s almost surreal, what’s happening around me these days.”
Minari is the kind of film that somehow manages to be as heart wrenching as it is heartwarming. Loosely based on director Lee Isaac Chung’s upbringing on a farm in Arkansas, it follows a Korean family as they uproot their lives for rural California, adjusting to a new world that feels both vast and isolating. Starring opposite Steven Yeun’s Jacob, Han plays his wife, Monica, with quiet dignity. The move to America was Jacob’s idea, you see, and Monica is yet to be convinced, watching on as the myth of the American dream crumbles before them.
“At first, I hoped that people might feel warm [after watching the film], especially during the pandemic. I want everyone to feel loved, to feel the warmth that human beings share, ” she says of what she hopes people will take away from the film. “Now more time has passed, I feel like people could open up their own album of memories from their lives, just like the album we’ve shared through Minari.”
From Minari momentos to a plant called Madonna, here, Yeri Han shares her own personal memory album, in the form of her five most treasured items.
“These are my babies and they’ve been with me for six years now. I gave them names like Michael Jackson and Madonna. I felt like if I gave them special names, they would grow big and healthy. I have a small plant that’s been with me for about six months. I want it to grow really big, so that I can name him Michael Jordan.”
THE ROTTEN TOMATOES CERTIFIED FRESH TROPHY
“I received this trophy in April. I had been quietly expecting it, because our Rotten Tomatoes reviews had been really good, so I thought we might be able to receive something. But most importantly, the trophy is so cute! Trophies tend to be very statuesque and serious, whereas this one is a tomato, so that’s exciting to me. One day, I might put my other trophies in a box, but Rotten Tomatoes? I’ll keep it out.”
THE VINTAGE TEA SET COLLECTION
“I love vintage items. Instead of getting new things, I like the warmth I get from items that have been used by people. When my friends visit me, I display them all and have my friends choose their favourite ones to have their tea with. To me, it’s fun to match my friend’s tea sets with their favourite teas. When I get bored of them, I refresh the collection by exchanging with friends. I actually love drinking coffee out of them the most. When I was younger, I never thought I would like coffee. Now, I think I’m old enough to understand the bitterness of life, so I love coffee now.”
THE SHELF OF SPECIAL THINGS
“I love this space in my home. I got the teacup from Hong Kong. I got the fan in the back as a present when I was once shooting on location. There’s a little toad container that you put ink in. These items are my favourites. They’re always there and I love them. I won’t be adding anything else to the space. It’s perfect just the way it is.”
THE MINARI PHOTO BOOK
“This photo book was given to me here, in the United States. The picture on the front is where [fellow cast member] Youn Yuh-jung and I stayed while filming. Inside, there are behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot, like when we had a special dinner for a birthday party. I’m so grateful, because this reminds me of the special memories we built together. Every day, after we were done shooting, we would make and have dinner together – those are the most special memories to me. In Korea, we say people who eat together are family members, so the most memorable moments are when we would have dinner, share the day and comfort each other.”