In Netflix’s Beef, creator and showrunner Lee Sung Jin tees up a potentially mundane grievance — impatient honking and flick off in a parking lot — which escalates into road rage, then puts two strangers onto a dark, codependent mission for revenge bordering on farce. It’s also incredibly, darkly funny. Joseph Lee plays George, Amy’s husband, the son of a legendary furniture craftsman a la Isamu Noguchi or Charles and Ray Eames. Here is everything you can update about him.
#1. Who is Joseph Lee?
Source: Radio Times
Joseph Lee is a Korean-American actor & fine artist based in Los Angeles. He made his film debut starring in Searching, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. He also starred as Geum Sung Moo in KBS's production of The Miracle We Met. Offscreen, Joseph's works on canvas can be viewed in exhibitions throughout the world. He has collaborated with brands such as NIKE, Sony Music, & Simon & Schuster.
George is an artist himself and creates brightly-colored, poop-like sculptures (which were made by the Beef props team and production designer Grace Yun said were inspired by yoga). His privileged upbringing prevents him from understanding his wife’s ambition and blinds him to her simmering anger. Young Mazino plays Paul, Danny’s guileless younger brother and roommate who gets roped into his drama and can’t seem to escape. The show takes viewers through parts of Los Angeles usually unexplored on screen without being too on the nose or pandering. It deftly portrays nuances of the Asian American experience that exist far from cliches without apologizing or explaining, and speaks universally to our modern, disjointed times.
#2. Joseph Lee as George in Netflix’s Beef
Joseph Lee compares the experience of watching “Beef,” his new Netflix series coproduced by A24, to finding a lost dollar.
“It felt like a nice surprise to get back to, like finding a dollar in your couch,” says the actor, who stars in the dark comedy with Steven Yeun and Ali Wong. “I mean whatever preconceived notions that I had going in, it just blew that apart. I was so blown away.”
The show, which premiered last month at SXSW to strong reviews, stars Yeun and Wong as strangers whose worlds become increasingly entangled after a road rage incident. Set in Southern California, the show explores their simmering discontent alongside family and class dynamics. Lee stars as George, the son of a famous artist and well-heeled husband to Wong’s character.
“George is a loving father, husband and artist — and in that specific order,” Lee says. “He’s really trying to come to terms with the placement of that order while living under his father’s legacy and themes of generational trauma. Ultimately, I think he’s just trying to establish his own boundaries amidst all of that,” he adds. “For myself personally, there is a parallel because as a young man I always struggled with trying to define my own masculinity — as many young men do — and I think that comes with a lot of compensating and projecting to fulfill whatever that definition is. And I think you lose a little bit of your innocence along the way.”
During his audition callback for the role, Lee notes that he immediately felt at home onset with series creator Lee Sung Jin and Wong, his main scene partner. “There’s this natural awkwardness going into any audition process, and as soon as I walked into that room and I saw [Jin], I saw Ali — all of that just dissipated,” he says.
And for his scenes with Yeun, Lee notes that the two actors already had a friend dynamic in place ahead of filming. “Steven and I go back; I’m friends with his brother,” Lee says. “One of our first scenes that we had together, before the take even started, we just looked at each other and started cracking up. It was just one of those weird moments of like, ‘How did we end up here?’”
Lee, who moved to Los Angeles after studying theater in college, turned to creativity as an only child growing up in Indiana. “My parents were working, so I was a bit of a latchkey kid,” Lee says. “My entire life was glued to a television growing up. And so that’s where my imagination kind of flourished.” He began acting in high school, after pivoting from sports to drama club. “As soon as I got up on that stage, it was the greatest feeling I ever had,” he adds.
#3. Where is Joseph Lee now?
Source: Netflix Life
While waiting for his acting career to take off in L.A., Lee began painting in his downtime, and cultivated an audience for his work on Instagram. Now, he finds himself balancing his career as an actor with his work as a fine artist. His next exhibition is a solo show in collaboration with Diesel in Tokyo, opening in September.
“It’s become this really great balance in my life. I treat the acting side as something that’s so collaborative, and there’s a sense of real humility in that, where the minute you step on a set, you realize how small of a piece of the puzzle that you are, and trying to create this whole thing together,” Lee says. “The art side is the complete opposite of that. It allows me to do what I want to do by myself, on my own time, without anybody telling me what to do. I think at this point in my life, I need those two sides to really be in balance for me to feel whole.”
The common element in both pursuits is the element of not knowing what he’s going to create next. He’s gearing up to start work on the Tokyo exhibition, and doesn’t yet know what’s going to ultimately take shape on the canvas. “I hope I can treat my acting career in that fashion as well,” he says. “Where I can leave it open and really be able to dive in and surprise myself on my next challenge.
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