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Randall Park on That Ali Wong Sex Scene, Keanu Reeves and His Commercial for Chinese Liver Pills

Randall Park will never forget his first paid acting gig.

How could he?

“It was on the Asian channel in L.A.,” the “Fresh Off the Boat” star recalls. “It was channel 18 and it was in Chinese, and I didn’t understand a word of it. I to this day, I don’t even know what I was selling exactly, and I’m not Chinese, but I played the father of a kid, and I come home from work, and the kid has a lot of energy, and I’m just super tired. Then I take these Chinese liver pills and then cut to me being wide awake, happy, playing with my kid all with a Mandarin voiceover. And I still don’t understand what they were saying…But I did get a lot of calls from my friends’ parents saying, ‘I saw you, you’re a huge star.’ And I was like, yeah, I got paid $200.’”

Imagine what those friends’ parents are thinking now.

I sat down with Park for this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast.
Park became a household name with “Fresh Off the Boat” and has appeared in not one, but two superhero movies—“Ant Man and The Wasp” and “Aquaman.”

And now, he’s starring in the freshly-minted Netflix rom-com “Always be My Maybe.” He and Ali Wong co-star as childhood friends who reconnect after she returns to their San Francisco neighborhood to open a restaurant. The sparks fly as they navigate friendships and family.

Many assume the movie was fast tracked after the success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” but it turns out “Always Be My Maybe” was already in post-production when CRA was released. 
“I think it’s just this cumulative effect of people wanting to tell their stories and finding that there’s a lot of pushback. It’s a tough tough world,” Park said. “It’ tough to get these stories out there but we pushed back and eventually, little cracks start opening up and now that feels like the dam is breaking.”

Randall Park photographed exclusively for Variety’s “The Big Ticket” podcast.
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Written by Park, Wong and Michael Golamco and directed by “Fresh Off the Boat” creator Nahnatchka Khan, “Always Be My Maybe” also features Keanu Reeves playing a douchebag version of himself. They had four nights to shoot with Reeves while he was on a short break from filming the third “John Wick” movie, and Reeves was ready to ham it up. “For him to have that awareness and sense of humor and that understanding of what we were going for, we still can’t believe he said yes,” Park said.

“Fresh Off the Boat” was picked up for a sixth season last month. Park’s costar Constance Wu faced backlash after she tweeted she wasn’t happy that the ABC comedy had been renewed. She later explained that her frustration wasn’t about hating “FOTB,” but that the renewal meant she had to pass on a project she was excited about.

Park has no hard feelings about Wu’s tweets. In fact, he said the cast wasn’t expecting the sixth season. “I was prepared for it to not get picked up, and I was excited by these others things I could do, but if it did get picked up it’s like, that’s all I ever wanted,” he said. “All I ever wanted was a job and a regular job to work with great people.”

For more from Park, including details about his improvised — and hilarious! — sex scene with Wong, listen to the full episode of this week’s “The Big Ticket” here:

“The Big Ticket” can be found at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Coming up next week are “Broad City” stars and co-creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.

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