Nope: Steven Yeun's 10 Best Roles, According To IMDb

Steven Yeun most recently starred in Jordan Peele's new sci-fi horror film Nope, which has so far received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. Prior to now, Yeun has featured in a wealth of international films and television series that span a range of genres, but he is best known for playing Glenn Rhee in AMC's The Walking Dead.

The actor is also known for portraying a lawyer infected with a virus, a scientist researching the evolution of the eye, and a mysterious arsonist, among other interesting and complex characters. Here are his best roles ranked according to the films' ratings on IMDb.


10 The Humans (2021): 6.2

Richard Jenkins and Steven Yeun sitting on a couch in the upcoming movie The Humans

A24 drama The Humans is an adaption of the Tony Award-winning play of the same name by Stephen Karam, who also directs the feature. The events unfold over the course of one evening at a family Thanksgiving gathering where tensions are tested in a crumbling, thin-walled New York apartment. It is not a ghost story, but the characters are haunted by ill health, financial issues and relationship strains.

Related: Steven Yeun's 10 Best Movies According To Letterboxd

An amusing allusion is made to Yeun's status as The Walking Dead alumni when a character reveals that she "keeps seeing these ads for that zombie show on TV..." In this story, humans are the zombies deteriorating on screen. Its IMDb rating is likely lower on account of its love-it-or-hate-it reception; while it is praised for its authenticity, creepiness and cast performances, it is also condemned for being a slow burn.

9 My Name Is Jerry (2009): 6.3

steven yeun as chaz in my name is jerry

The independent comedy-drama, My Name is Jerry, is one of the lighter pictures in Yeun's back catalog. It follows Jerry (Doug Jones), a middle-aged door-to-door salesman as he navigates his way through a midlife crisis with the help of his new young friends and the power of punk music.

Yeun plays Chaz, a record store employee, musician and all-around party guy. Despite portraying a secondary character, the film has gone on to achieve cult status for featuring him before he skyrocketed to fame with The Walking Dead.

8 Mayhem (2017): 6.4

Samara Weaving and Steven Yeun in Mayhem

Mayhem is a different take on the infectious diseases subgenre that Yeun is accustomed to with The Walking Dead. He stars alongside Samara Weaving as a young lawyer, Derek Cho, who finds himself quarantined inside his office tower as a contagious virus runs rampant, prompting the infected to act on their darkest impulses.

Related: Shudder's Best Of 2021 Ranked From Worst To Best According To IMDb

Yeun is likable, comical and his and Weaving's personalities complement each other well. It is generally highly rated among IMDb users, though a few negative user reviews pull down its overall score, with IMDb voter Jeremy_Urquhart stating that "Yeun does a very good job however and deserved a much better script to work with."

7 Sorry To Bother You (2018): 6.9

Steven Yeun as Squeeze in Sorry To Bother You

Another film to feature Yeun in a supporting role is the surrealist comedy Sorry to Bother You, directed by Boots Riley. He depicts a union organizer named Squeeze in an alternate version of present-day Oakland in which a struggling artist played by LaKeith Stanfield discovers the key to professional success.

Praise and criticism for the film are two sides of the same coin, with fans and critics alike highlighting its bizarre nature as the reasoning behind their verdicts.

6 I Origins (2014): 7.3

i origins characters talking looking at a laptop

Mike Cahill's sci-fi romance drama I Origins sees Yeun star as Kenny alongside Michael Pitt in this small independent production with a big concept. In it, Kenny is a research partner to Ian Gray (Pitt), a Ph.D. student researching the evolution of the eye.

Despite only playing a supporting role, as IMDb reviewer siderite states, "it is important to understand all characters to get the film", and Yeun's character is as crucial to the plot as any other. The film is highly praised for the quality of the acting, as well as its intriguing concept, resulting in a very respectable IMDb rating.

5 Okja (2017): 7.3

K and Jay looking in the same direction in Okja

Director Bong Joon Ho wrote Yeun's part in the Korean satirical animal rights epic, Okja, specifically for him. In an interview with Vulture, he revealed that only a Korean-American could play the role, stating that "a Korean-American actor is very specific. I think if you got a native Korean who spoke English, the comedy wouldn't have worked. If you got a Korean-American who didn't have a better understanding of Korean, it wouldn't have worked."

He describes his character K, a member of the Animal Liberation Front, as someone who "wants to be liked really bad, and he'll do whatever it takes to get that," leaving him at the mercy of both sides of his community.

4 Minari (2020): 7.4

Alan Kim, Steven Yeun, Noel Kate Cho and Han Ye-ri in Minari

The A24 drama Minari is a semi-autobiographical retelling of writer and director Lee Isaac Chung's upbringing, commenting on immigration to the rural United States by South Korean families in the 1980s. Yeun takes the helm as Jacob Yi, a farmer who moves his family from California to Arkansas to grow Korean produce.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Minari Is A Must-Watch Movie

Cast performances are praised for their authenticity; the characters are relatable even if the viewer is unfamiliar with the history surrounding the circumstances portrayed on screen. Yeun's character is regarded as the embodiment of the American Dream, whose ambitions drive the plot by putting strain on his familial relationships.

3 Nope (2022): 7.4

Ricky Jupe looking up in Nope

In Jordan Peele's new UFO film in which an extraterrestrial creature lives in a cloud above a ranch, Yeun plays a child star turned Western theme park owner called Jupe. The character narrowly survived a traumatic childhood event, where his costars were mauled by a chimp on set, leaving him with an overinflated sense of purpose which would prove fatal over the course of the film.

Despite receiving mixed reviews, Nope is a multi-layered picture that demands dissection. Its otherworldly cinematography and story, coupled with relatable characters brought to life by a likable cast, has helped secure it a very respectable average rating on IMDb.

2 Burning (2018): 7.5

steven yeun with wine glasses burning

Fans experience a different side to Yeun in the Korean suspense thriller Burning, in which the protagonist played by Yoo Ah-in is reunited with a childhood friend. Yeun is the mysterious Ben, who confesses to burning down greenhouses in his spare time.

Ironically, the film has been regarded by IMDb reviewers as a "slow burner" that leaves "burning questions", but this is by no means a criticism, with user Bertaut stating that, "[Burning] is masterfully constructed upon a foundation of questions, only a very few of which are answered."

1 The Walking Dead (2010 - 2022): 8.2

It comes as no surprise that the long-running zombie apocalypse series, The Walking Dead, is the most highly rated production on IMDb to feature Steven Yeun. In it, he plays pizza delivery boy turned survivalist Glenn Rhee from seasons one through to seven.

Although there have now officially been more episodes without Yeun than with, his name remains synonymous with the series and his character continues to play a crucial role in the lives of those left behind.