“Beef” stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong as two people involved in a road rage accident that spirals out of control and begins to consume their every waking moment. And despite the fact that Yeun and Wong don’t really have beef with each other, the hatred began to consume them outside of the show as well – except in real life, it came in hives.
In a Q&A following the world premiere of “Beef” at South by Southwest, the cast was asked how they managed to break down after displaying such explosive anger on set.
“Our bodies shut down,” Yeun said.
“Steven and I both broke out in hives after the show. Mine was on my face. He had his whole body because he’s so weak,” Wong said to laughter from the crowd. “It certainly took its toll on us, but we only realized it after the show was over. I mean, I’m not even talking about what happened to your elbow.”
He continued: “I don’t think they knew it was going to happen. Had we known what we were about to put our bodies and minds through, we might not have said yes, but we’re really glad we did.
Series creator Lee Sung Jin knows a thing or two about this kind of hate. On stage, he revealed that “Beef” was inspired by the road rage he experienced himself.
“It was with a white SUV. A BMW, not a Mercedes,” he said, as Wong’s character drives a white Mercedes in the show. “It called me, cursed at me and drove away. And for some reason that day I was like, “I’m following you.” It didn’t end the way the show did—that’s why I’m here, I can talk to you today—but it definitely made me think about how we live in such subjective realities where we project onto people we don’t know. .”
“Beef” is not the first collaboration between Jin, Wong and Yeun. Jin was the writer of “Tuca and Bertie”, in which Wong and Yeun voiced the main characters. Jin said Yeun was one of the first people to hear the “Beef” idea: “We talked for about three hours. Conversations with Steven usually start like, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about this show,’ and then after three hours we’re like, ” Why is God the way he is?”
“What attracted me was that we got to play with something that we’re not asked to do on the surface, which is our shadow self,” Yeun said. “This whole show is every character’s shadow, and we all have that. So taking advantage of it – and getting paid for it – is great. And hopefully also make you feel seen, because this shit is very common.”
Her previous connections with Jin and Wong made the role easier for Yeun. “It keeps you safe and helps you be more honest. You’re not left to your own vulnerability,” she said. “When you get to express all this friendship in the safety of the set, you go home like, ‘I’m definitely not exploring that anywhere else.’ So it wasn’t too bad. It just keeps the tension going, which was really painful.”