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How ‘WandaVision’ Star Randall Park Became a Gen Z TikTok Obsession

Hannah Docter-Loeb
·5-min read
Alison Buck/Getty
Alison Buck/Getty

In a 2012 episode of NBC’s The Office, Randall Park plays Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam’s (Jenna Fischer) actor-friend Steve, who sits at Jim’s desk while he’s at the dentist. Steve attempts to convince Dwight (Rainn Wilson) that he is, in fact, Jim, as part of the show’s ongoing prank war between Jim and Dwight. The scene has become a fan-favorite cold open, and for the younger Office-obsessed generation who’ve watched and rewatched the comedy for years (until its recent departure from Netflix), this two-minute stunt is Park’s most memorable role.

That changed this year, when Park appeared as Agent Jimmy Woo in Marvel Studios’ newest Disney+ TV series, WandaVision. Although Park’s character had featured in the earlier MCU film Ant-Man and the Wasp, this time Woo seems to have a much bigger role and plenty of tricks up his sleeve—literally. Park’s portrayal of Woo in WandaVision has garnered him a growing fanbase—Google searches for his name, according to Google Trends 1-100 scale for search interest, went from 8 in January to 100 by Valentine’s Day. Fans have swooned over his heroism, clever one-liners, and general charisma. The Woo worship has even inspired the idea for a spin-off TV show all about Woo, with one director even pitching the idea of an X-Files-style series to Marvel honcho Kevin Feige.

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Many have taken to Twitter and TikTok to express their love and appreciation for the character, even hijacking the #woobackwednesday hashtag which had previously been used to honor the late rapper Pop Smoke. In the midst of all this Jimmy Woo infatuation, a new phenomenon has begun. Fans are starting to realize just how omnipresent Randall Park is.

In fact, Park’s pervasiveness has spurred a new TikTok trend, in which users will film themselves watching the beginning of a video clip. Be it a movie, TV show, or even a UCLA graduation ceremony, the user will then highlight the fact that Park—or rather “Jimmy Woo”—makes an appearance and is the real star of the show with a startling music cue and a “SIKE!” The trend’s accompanying sound has been used in over 8,000 videos, and the hashtag that is often in the caption (#jimmywoo) has amassed over 90 million views as of Feb. 19. It only takes a few of these videos—which have been crowding up countless “for you” pages, including my own—to get the gist. Park seems to be in everything and anything, from iCarly to New Girl to Curb Your Enthusiasm.

And it’s true. In his nearly 18 years of acting, Park has amassed over 150 credits, with roles spanning across genres and mediums, from movies to TV and back again. Based on his filmography, it seems no year has gone by without Park appearing in at least two projects.

While his early credits were roles as generic as “Mailman” in Reno 911!, “Octopus Man” in Fastlane, and “Nice but Boring Guy” in the 2009 sex comedy People I’ve Slept With, Park has since starred in many more “mainstream” films and television shows.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Teyonah Parris and Randall Park in <em>WandaVision</em></p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Disney+</div>

Teyonah Parris and Randall Park in WandaVision

Disney+

In 2012, he joined the star-studded cast of The Five-Year Engagement, providing comic relief as the character Ming. Park hilariously tackled the role of Kim Jong Un in 2014’s controversial political action-comedy The Interview, a performance that supposedly elicited responses from the North Korean dictator himself. In 2018, Park played Dr. Stephen Shin in Aquaman, joining the surprisingly long list of actors who have appeared in both DC and Marvel movies. Park also wrote and starred in the 2019 romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe, which features an iconic scene in which Park punches Keanu Reeves (as well as an accompanying song about it). Looking ahead, Park is set to co-star in a Korean-American-led heist film alongside Daniel Dae Kim, a project that ignited a bidding war between studios that was ultimately won by Amazon.

On the TV side of things, Park is beloved for his work as Louis Huang in ABC’s Fresh off the Boat, the patriarch of an immigrant family that moves to Orlando from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown and opens up a Western-style steakhouse. The role led to a nomination for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2016. He’s also made one-off appearances in popular shows such as iCarly, New Girl, Veep, Community, The Mindy Project… the list really goes on. And even though WandaVision came out barely a month ago, Park is already popping up in another TV series. On Feb 16., he debuted as the host of Young Rock, a new sitcom based on the life of actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (though this time, Park just plays himself).

If all that weren’t enough, Park has additionally been in various TV commercials, web series, and even an Eminem music video. Truly a jack of all trades.

Sure, Park’s portrayal of Woo makes him an attractive candidate for Gen Z’s love. But perhaps even more impressive (and more often overlooked) is Park’s versatility and talent, especially as one of few visible Asian male stars in media. And it seems like for the first time, thanks to TikTok, this is finally being realized by Gen Z. Hopefully the rise in Woo popularity means more appreciation for all his accomplishments and roles, not just those that breed catchy memes.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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