Seeing beyond the burden of Asian representation: Randall Park in Blockbuster

Find out what Randall Park has to say about his role in the new Netflix series Blockbuster in our latest interview.

Leaning into nostalgia with Randall Park as the leading man in Blockbuster

Randall Park smiling as Timmy in episode 106 of Blockbuster. He is leaning against a counter with video shelves behind him. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Randall Park as Timmy in episode 106 of Blockbuster. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

There’s something about watching a movie in the comfort of your own home where you can wear and eat whatever you want, pause to go to the washroom, and chew as loudly as you need to (within reason for your movie-watching mates, of course). The latest show we’re adding to our Cold Tea Collective Watchlist is Netflix’s Blockbuster, starring Randall Park. 

With an acting career spanning over 20 years, Park is again a leading man. 

Cold Tea Collective’s Natasha Jung sits down virtually with Randall Park ahead of the series premiere to learn more about the show and his role. 

Watch the full interview or continue reading for highlights of the conversation. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and brevity. 

Watch the full interview with Randall Park about Blockbuster.

Timmy Yoon (Park) Is an analog dreamer living in a 5G world. And after learning he is operating the last Blockbuster Video in America, Timmy and his staff employees including his long-time crush, Eliza (Melissa Fumero) fight to stay relevant. The only way to succeed is to remind their community that they provide something big corporations can’t: human connection.

Yes, you read that right: one of the modern technology advancements that contributed to the disappearance of our neighbourhood video rental stores is premiering a series about on the last-standing Blockbuster in America. The irony is not lost on the streaming platform and in fact, they are leaning into the popularity of nostalgia marketing might be just what we need right now. 

Randall Park as Timmy Yoon in Blockbuster

Melissa Fumero as Eliza, Randall Park as Timmy pose while holding Blockbuster DVD's at the front counter of the store.
Melissa Fumero as Eliza, Randall Park as Timmy in Blockbuster. Photo by Ricardo Hubbs, courtesy of Netflix.

“He’s someone who loves Blockbuster because of the human connection it comes with,” describes Park of his character Timmy Yoon, store owner and operator of the last-standing Blockbuster in America. “He just loves a sense of comradery and family; for him, that’s the most important thing.” 

Playing the role of Timmy isn’t too far off from how the Korean American actor would describe himself. “We’re exactly alike in a lot of ways. I’m very much an analog guy. I really love holding things in my hand,” shares Park. 

Park hopes that audiences will connect with his character as well as others on the show. “I hope they see a bit of themselves in Timmy, not just because he’s Asian, but also because he’s Asian.”

See also: Op-Ed: We want more than just Asian-inherent roles

Asian representation in Blockbuster

According to the latest Census from May 2022, Asian-owned businesses in the United States make up nearly 8% of all U.S. businesses – that’s more than two-million Asian-owned businesses. 

“To be able to see another Asian person play the boss of a small business, it’s a working class story that we don’t get to see too often,” says Park, who has previously played another small business owner as Louis Huang in Fresh Off the Boat. “Hopefully that will resonate with Asian American audiences and on a human level, I hope [audiences] can identify with all these characters.”

See also: Making It: Vietnamese Canadian Chef Patrick Do on a journey through food and identity with Do Chay Restaurant

Randall Park as Timmy in episode 101 of Blockbuster. He has a concerned look on his face while holding the phone in between movie shelves. He is standing in front of the horror film section.
Randall Park as Timmy in episode 101 of Blockbuster. Photo by Ricardo Hubbs, courtesy of Netflix.

When asked about whether he feels pressure to represent the AAPI community in projects, the veteran actor chooses to remain focused on the job and having fun. 

“When I step back and think about my career and the choices I make, I’m very conscious of representing,” he says. “But when I take a step back…it’s more important to have fun and bring myself to the character, to not be burdened trying to represent everyone in a community, because that’s just not possible.”

As an actor, comedian, writer and director, Randall Park knows intimately the impact of this representation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing and Master’s degree in Asian American Studies from UCLA. 

“Ultimately, it serves the community too, because you want people [in these roles] giving it their all and having fun.” 

See also: From theatre to TV: An interview with Anirudh Pisharody of Never Have I Ever

Randall Park’s Blockbuster favourites

Randall Park smiling while holding a phone on the set of Blockbuster.
Randall Park as Timmy in episode 105 of Blockbuster. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

To get us ready for our Blockbuster marathon, we along with some of our readers asked the show’s star a few fun questions: 

Cold Tea Collective: What’s the latest you’ve ever returned a video at Blockbuster?

Randall Park: “I never returned anything late. I was always on time!”

Cold Tea Collective: What’s your guilty pleasure snack that you impulse buy in the lineup at Blockbuster? 

Randall Park: “Twix and Kit Kat because I love chocolate. I love that when you get a Twix, you actually get two candy bars. When you get a Kit Kat, you actually get four. It’s really about the value.” 

Cold Tea Collective: If you could curate the perfect Blockbuster movie marathon with Asian American leads, what would be your top three films? 

Randall Park: The Blockbuster star’s list includes Better Luck Tomorrow, Crazy Rich Asians and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once…you can’t have this without having had a Crazy Rich Asians, and you can’t have a Crazy Rich Asians without the lineage of movies like Better Luck Tomorrow. It’s all connected.” 

But the list doesn’t stop there. “If you asked me the same question tomorrow, I’d probably have different answers. There are so many great films in the Asian American canon.” 

See also: Getting to know Stephanie Hsu from Everything, Everywhere, All at Once 

What to expect from the show

Cast and crew of Blockbuster on the blue carpet at the season one premiere in Los Angeles.
Blockbuster Premiere at Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, California. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Park notes the diversity in the cast as an important point. “Whether it be age, general disposition of these characters, I think a lot of our community will see a bit of themselves in these characters,” says Park.

Also in the show are Madeleine Arthur (To All the Boys series), Tyler Alvarez (Never Have I Ever), J.B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home), Kamaia Fairburn (Transplant) and Olga Merediz (In the Heights). 

Aside from the nostalgic feels, if Blockbuster feels familiar, it’s because it’s created, written and executive produced by Vanessa Ramos (Superstore, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). 

“It will warm your heart. If you love it, please spread the word and share it if you love it! It’s a really fun show.”

Be sure to check out Blockbuster, starting November 3rd on Netflix. 

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