In a new talk with Vulture, to promote Netflix's "Okja" and discuss what he wants to do next, Yeun discussed his most famous role, as TWD's pizza boy turned badass father-to-be. Glenn was a main character right from his voice piping through to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) at the end of the pilot, but despite that, Yeun pointed out that Glenn was rarely given solo time (he and Maggie were basically joined at the storyline hip), and Glenn didn't get his own magazine cover until after he was killed. (Unlike, say, Daryl Dixon.) If Glenn really was so many fans's "favorite character," why didn't he get more leading character promotion?
Vulture started this part of the conversation by noting there was "some pretty severe blowback to your character Glenn's death that has lingered." The reporter then asked, "Do you feel like it was too much?"
Yeun's answer revealed how much thought he'd given his character, and Glenn's public perception:
"I don't feel like it was too much. I'll be honest with you and put a full disclaimer here: I might not be objective, but I truly feel like people didn't know what to do with Glenn. They liked him, they had no problems with him, and people enjoyed him. But they didn't acknowledge the connection people had with the character until he was gone. I look at what happened and I think, That wasn't any more gory than what we've done before, per se. No one got their face ripped in half! People got their guts smashed out and their heads caved in. But this one felt gratuitous because one, it kept going, and two, I think they took away someone that I didn't realize I had made such a connection with until they took him away.
I loved being on that show. Internally, it was incredible. Externally, it was tough sometimes because I never felt like he got his fair due. I never felt like he got it from an outward perception. I don't say this as a knock on anything. He always had to be part of something else to legitimize himself. He was rarely alone. And when he was alone, it took several years to convince people to be on his own. I'm thankful to EW for that wonderful cover they ran at the end, but we've had many covers before then that he never got to do on his own. Not until the last year did they give him his own cover, and then give him the one as he died."
FYI, here's that cover:
And here's a bit more from Yeun to Vulture on Glenn:
"I didn't think of it as racism, where it's like, Oh, this is racist. I caught it in a way of 'Oh, this is how we're viewed all the time – as part of some glob, some amorphous, non-individualistic collective.' We're like a Borg, and so because of that, they're like, 'Well, we don't need to give the shine to that character. There's all these other characters who are so cool!' I'd always hear people go, 'I love Glenn, he's my favorite character.' But the merchandise would go one way. That really might be the market, so I'm not going to sit here and be like, 'Why didn't they make Glenn merchandise?' But there was a disparity...."
Read the full Q&A for a lot more from Yeun on TWD, "Okja," the roles he's turned down, the ones he'd prefer, and how he still struggles even after success as an Asian-American actor.
"The Walking Dead" Season 8 premieres October on AMC. The first big trailer should be coming later this month at San Diego Comic-Con.
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