‘Minari’ child star Alan S. Kim on eating contests with Steven Yeun and his fave pranks

Everyone's new favourite actor tells us about being a viral sensation

Whether you’ve seen Minari or not (and if not, what are you waiting for?), you’ll probably be aware of Alan S. Kim. The eight-year-old child actor has been a highlight of the film’s press run and 2021’s awards season, from his overwhelmed, tearful speech when he won a Critics Choice Award to his snazzy outfits. NME caught up with everyone’s new favourite young star – sporting a glittery silver cowboy hat, of course – to talk about his first movie role in Minari, eating contests with co-star Steven Yeun and his favourite pranks to play.

Minari has been one of the most talked-about films of the year. What’s being a part of it all been like for you?

Alan S. Kim: “I guess it’s really nice. I met a lot of new people and got to hang out with them.”

Do you remember what your first day on set was like?

“Yeah, I went to to the hotel. It was pretty big. I actually started watching TV because there was nothing for me to do [on set]. So I sat down on the bed and turned on the TV and looked for a channel I wanted to watch. There’s a channel called Cartoon Network and I watched that, and if I got really bored of that I’d watch something else – there’s this channel called Nickelodeon.”

Do you have a favourite cartoon?

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“On Cartoon Network, probably Teen Titans Go. And on Nickelodeon, maybe The Loud House.”

Steven Yeun and the cast of ‘Minari’. CREDIT: Alamy

What was your favourite thing about filming Minari?

“Probably everything, but if I had to pick one… probably the props. They were pretty fun. There were the boots and a lot of other things like Mountain Dew.”

Did you have a favourite scene?

“Probably when I gave pee to Grandma. That was probably my favourite scene because David is being naughty and it’s a prank.”

I hear that you like playing pranks as well. Were you playing pranks on people between takes?

“No, I didn’t know any tricks to do there because there was no prank set.”

What’s your favourite prank to play when you can play them?

“Probably scaring [people]. [I take] every chance I get to scare my sister. All I need to do is jump quietly, crawl quietly, whisper quietly, tiptoe quietly – everything to do quietly – ’til I creep up behind her and yell. Just yell ‘Boo!’”

I read that Steven Yeun is one of your role models. What was it like acting with him?

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“It was actually really nice. He gave me a book and I also did eating contests with him – the first one to finish the dish is the winner. But I always lost because I was not the cheetah eater, but the dog eater. [Steven] eats normal speed. Steven always won, which was sad.”

Alan Kim with Steven Yeun in ‘Minari’. CREDIT: Alamy

Maybe next time you’ll beat him! How did you first get into acting? What do you like about it?

“Well, I guess I just got into it. Probably everything but I guess if I had to choose one part… probably the acting!”

Do you like playing different people? Do you have a dream type of character that you want to play, like maybe a superhero or a spy or a wizard or anything like that?

“I’d like to do a movie like ‘Home Alone’.”

What do your friends think about you being an actor and winning awards?

“They think: ‘Nice!’ [does big thumbs up].”

You’re also going to be in a film called Latchkey Kids. What can you tell us about that?

“Well latchkey kid [means] a kid who comes home alone and he or she basically takes care of him or herself. And I’m one of those [in the film]. I get another babysitter and yeah!”

You just filmed for Nora From Queens as Young Wally. Who is that character?

“Well, it’s basically the father’s past memory. It was actually really nice. I filmed in New York.”

How are you finding juggling school with acting?

“Well, since I do homeschool I don’t do a lot of Zooms so I’m able to shuffle things back and forth.”

Do you have a favourite subject at school?

“Probably math or science? Science is kind of hard, but math is really easy.”

Apart from school and acting, what do you like doing? Do you have any hobbies?

“Probably going outside or playing games – especially video games. Playing with my dog, playing with my toys, making Lego, FaceTiming with friends, playing with Nerf guns, and a bunch more.”

Sounds fun! Do you have any tips for people who want to become an actor like you?

“Probably don’t rush or don’t over-act.”

‘Minari’ is available now on digital

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