A minute-and-a-half-long appearance on a 2013 episode of “The Office” can leave a lasting impression on viewers, as Randall Park would come to find out. For years, the ghost of “Asian Jim” — who was briefly introduced in one of the show’s iconic prank scenes as an Asian version of John Krasinski’s character — would follow Park around, even when the actor previously admitted at one point to forgetting he’d taken on the role.
For this latest workplace comedy series, however, Park’s appearance is no joke.
The actor emerges in Netflix’s newly released sitcom “Blockbuster” as Timmy Yoon, a store manager for the once-popular video rental company based on the real-life Blockbuster brand. When he receives the notice that his store is the last Blockbuster standing, Timmy leads his team to find a way to keep the place running — all while figuring out his feelings for his long-time crush Eliza (Melissa Fumero).
Park spoke with NextShark ahead of the show’s release, diving into the sense of nostalgia the show evokes for Blockbuster’s reigning era in the ‘90s to 2000s.
Like many at the time, Park was a regular at his own neighborhood Blockbuster store: “The one on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles, right next to the In-n-Out,” he recalls.
“I would go there all the time and spend hours and hours trying to decide on a movie to watch for that weekend. I would have the hardest time and I would usually end up watching the same movie a billion times — whether it be a rom-com or some movie that I just love. Even walking onto the set of our show, it just brought back a flood of memories. It’s just so accurate to the actual design, down to the very last detail. It really did bring back a lot of memories.”
Some of his favorite rentals, he says, were “‘When Harry Met Sally,’ ‘Notting Hill,’ ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ — I just love rom-coms,” as Netflix fanatics might have already guessed from his role alongside Ali Wong in 2019’s “Always Be My Maybe.”
It was also during the early 2000s that Park began his career. He has since accumulated over 160 acting credits, including the notable role as the father figure in ABC’s family sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat.”
Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Gen Zers discovered Park’s prolific filmography after he appeared in the popular Marvel series “Wanda Vision” as FBI agent Jimmy Woo.
The supporting role had already gone viral on social media after fans discovered one of Marvel’s many easter eggs tied to the character, but what garnered even more attention was the familiar face behind it. A trend emerged in which TikTok users shared their favorite scenes from various films and shows featuring small, unexpected appearances by the actor.
Thousands have left comments in awe of the actor’s omnipresence over the film industry. Even more have played along with the original prank from “The Office,” insisting in each video: “That’s Asian Jim.”
Looking back, Park says he’s touched by the sentiment: “When that TikTok trend happened, my friends were sending me those links and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I forgot that I did that.’ It was cool, very heartwarming to see that folks were, in their way, paying tribute to this journey that I’ve been on.”
“I always saw myself and I still see myself just as a working actor, you know. And for me, it’s always been about work and having fun and just kind of taking on any opportunity that I think will bring me joy. I’m at this place now where I’m kind of looking back and it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve really done that much?’”
“Blockbuster” is somewhat self-reverential in nature, considering Netflix’s pioneering of streaming services effectively squashed the video store company out of business years ago. Likewise, Park’s character seems to mirror his real-life persona when Timmy notes that his 5-year-old self would be in disbelief to hear that “the biggest shows and bands in the world are going to be Korean.”
The Korean American actor agrees that he, too, would have “flipped out.”
“I wouldn’t have believed it,” he says. “Even when I first started acting, I was very much resigned to never leading a show or starring in a movie. I was very much like, ‘Oh I’m going to at best, play a side character on a show. That was the dream – just to be a regular on the show as a side character. And that was enough for me because that’s just the industry. And if I get lucky enough to do more than that, that would be beyond my wildest dreams. I don’t think about it too much, but it is a total trip that I’m doing these things and I’m extremely, extremely thankful. My hope is that every opportunity creates opportunities for others. And I think times are changing.”
Asian Jim or “Blockbuster” Tim, I offer up to him, wrapping up the trip down memory lane.
Laughing, Park says, “I’m so grateful for just the fact that I got to be on ‘The Office’ and the fact that that one scene blew up. But I would say I’m all about Timmy and ‘Blockbuster.’ This was definitely a real fun role to play and probably the closest role to my actual self that I’ve gotten to play in a really long time.”
Season 1 of “Blockbuster” is now available to stream on Netflix.
Featured Image via Netflix