Filming “Beef” took a bite out of stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong.
The stars of Netflix and A24’s road rage dramedy, created by “Tuca & Bertie” and “Dave” writer Lee Sung Jin, revealed during the 2023 SXSW world premiere that the stress of the series “took a toll” on their bodies.
“Steven and I both broke out in hives after the show,” Wong said (via Variety). “Mine was on my face. His was all over his body because he’s weak like that. It definitely took a toll on us, but we didn’t even realize until after the show ended. I mean, I won’t even talk about what happened to [Yeun’s] elbow.”
Wong continued, “I don’t think we knew that was going to happen. If we knew what we were going to put our bodies and minds through, maybe we wouldn’t have said yes, but we’re really glad we did.”
Co-star Yeun added, “Our bodies shut down.”
Yeun and Wong both previously voiced characters in Lee’s “Tuca & Bertie” animated series. The duo executive produced “Beef,” which follows the aftermath of a road rage incident between two strangers. Danny Cho (Yeun), a failing contractor with a chip on his shoulder, goes head-to-head with Amy Lau (Wong), a self-made entrepreneur with a picturesque life. The increasing stakes of their feud unravel their lives and relationships.
Creator Lee told Vanity Fair that Wong especially “did not hold back” as an actress, breaking out into hives after filming the season finale. “She had been holding so much of the toxicity of this character inside of her,” Lee said, citing “The Sopranos” as the main influence for the tone of the series.
IndieWire’s Ben Travers wrote in his review for the series that “even when ‘Beef’ goes too far, it’s held together by Wong, Yeun, and the understanding that this kind of rage doesn’t always make sense.”
“Wong and Yeun shine throughout, especially when called upon to express their characters’ boiling frustrations while pretending to be fine,” Travers penned. “‘Beef’ often feels like a black comedy, but it’s ultimately defined by long stretches of pure drama. Road rage can turn all of us into extreme versions of ourselves, and ‘Beef’ plays out the shocking indignation felt so acutely from the first carhorn to that final outstretched finger.”