Its 1:38 am
Welcome to 8 Questions with…..
Its amazing what little gesture can reap someone some big rewards. Last year I put out a open call to see if actors would be interested in doing a interview. During one of these calls,I got to meet Mike Ferguson and we not only did a 8 Questions but became trusted friends. Through Mike,I have found myself interviewing some amazing and talented actors like Josh Gilmer and Mike Markoff (but still waiting on Robert LoSardo). The run continues because now I get to interview Josh Han,a co-star of the series “Death Squad”.
His character of Kirk Bennett caught my attention the most because not only was Kirk supporting his team on a dangerous mission,he was doing so with his wife!! Talk about having a LOT emotional acting to do!! But Josh was outstanding and when I got a chance to ask him for a interview,I jumped at the chance.
Josh is another one of a group of hard working actors who not only look for projects together but also believes in supporting his peers as well. As many may attest,this is a rare trait in Hollywood. After most shoots end,the cast and crew may hold a wrap party but many don’t bond or form lasting friendships. But Josh isn’t like that,he told he considers many of the friends he makes on a set to be a friend off the set as well. Its a kindness that we all could use more of…..
But for now,let me get out of the way so you can meet a truly nice guy and a great actor as well as Josh Han answers his 8 Questions……
Please introduce yourself and tell us about the project you are currently working on.
Hey there everyone, my name is Josh Han. I am 34 years old, born and raised in Silver Spring MD and my birthday is Christmas Eve. Currently I am actually working on a dubbing voice over project for The Kingdom season 2 on Netflix which is coming out soon and I got a couple indie films in pre-production right now shooting in Charlotte, NC and then another one in LA/NY.
What was your childhood like? What kind of activities did you and your family do together? What are your three fondest memories growing up?
I grew up on the East Coast, born and raised in Silver Spring Maryland. Unlike SoCal, we get all 4 seasons, and when you have two boys in the household, you put them to work, haha. Growing it, there was a lot of love in the family. Family was extremely important. My parents were Korean Immigrants and they met and got married in Maryland in 1982. My brother was born on1983 and I was born in 1985 and growing up we did a lot of activities.
We did a lot of chores together as a family. Sundays were cleaning days. We did yard work together. And come to think of it, my dad was putting us to work early, and I think it’s because he wanted to instill a solid work ethic in us. We did a lot of outdoor activities, camping, road trips to the beach, which would take anywhere between 2-4 hours, and we also went fishing.
For me, fishing with my family is probably my favorite memory. The other fondest memory was helping my dad with the addition to the house. I remember my dad actually extended out hour 20 ft back and basically doubled the size of the house, and of course he put us to work. I remember one day we had the basement dug out with an excavator and when he was done, he realized he needed just a little more space for the stairwell. So he told me and my brother to literally dig a hole like 8 feet deep by 4 feet x 4 feet. That was shit ton of dirt, and when we were almost done, we literally hit a rock that probably weighed close to 400lbs and we had to move this rock, so we dug another hole to put the rock in. The 3rd fondest memory is just having family time with our aunts, uncles and cousins. We have a very close knit family and I am truly blessed to have them in my life.
How did you go from Maryland to attending and getting your degree in Illinois? What was your experience like at Urbana? How important is education to you?
So my brother is 2 years older than me, and when he was going on his college visits during his senior year in high school I would come with and when I visited the University of Illinois with him and my parents, I fell in love with the campus. I remember when he was going to school there, we would talk on the phone, and this is before cell phones got popular, so we would chat on his land line and he would tell me about how awesome it was.
My experience at Urbana-Champaign was SUPER fun. Best 4 years of my life, haha! But seriously it was amazing but it was also very difficult. I wasn’t the best student by any means. My dad had the typical immigrant dream of having a child be a lawyer or a doctor. My older brother was on the path of being a lawyer and he did that with flying colors. He did Army ROTC, he is now a Major in the Army National Guard and he is also a lawyer and he is going into the JAG Corps in Sept 2020. I, on the other hand, took a WAY different route.
I did pre-med for 3 years, but I hated it so much, and I was terrible in sciences and also terrible at studying. I didn’t like it at all. I eventually switched majors and graduated with a communication degree. To me, education is really important, but it doesn’t have to be formal education. When I think of education I am thinking about learning in general. You need to be learning constantly and that is what is really important to me.
When did you decide you wanted to become an actor? What was your first step on that journey?
I graduated from U of I in 2008 and then I moved back to Maryland. In 2008 there was the big crash, so the job market was really tough. I was a tea salesman, I worked part time at a gym, and then finally I got a job at FINRA (they regulate the stock market) and I absolutely hated my job. It was an entry level job and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was just happy to start making some money. Then after about 1.5 years there, I got another job working as a contract Federal Investigator for a government agency, and I remember after I started working there, I knew immediately that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. So during this time around 2009-2010 I also volunteered a lot in Washington DC within the Asian American Community. One of the organizations was Kollaboration DC. Kollaboration is an organization that promotes Asian American Talent (singers, dancers, rappers, etc) through a variety show. So I was part of the team that put the show together and a few of the volunteers mentioned that I should try out acting. So it was within this community that I decided to try it out. But before I get into that, I have to talk about my cousins.
My cousins are Rick Yune and Karl Yune and when I was in middle school/high school they were heavily in the entertainment business and they were legit, making movies. One of Rick’s first big hits was the very first Fast and Furious and Karl was in Anaconda 2 which has a crazy cult following. So first off I have to pay homage to my cousins who literally paved the way. If It wasn’t for them mostly likely would have pursued this. So 100% they played a huge influence on my decision.
So anyway, I remember auditioning for my first indie film project and thinking that this will just be good practice. I went in with no expectations, no prior acting training and just did the best I could. I remember walking out feeling good that I actually did it. Then later I get an email saying that I was cast in the film! This for me was the first step and then everything kind of just fell into place. I got casted to be on an Animal Planet Reality show called Hillbilly Handfishin and I had no idea what reality TV was to be honest, but it was just such a fun experience. I definitely learned that reality tv is not real at all. That was actually one of most memorable vacations ever. I caught 2 fish with my hands and a turtle haha.
So the BIG first step was me moving to Los Angeles, CA and for that to happen, it was very serendipitous for me. When I was working my Federal Investigator job I remember talking to my manager and I asked her about relocation. She had told me that I could relocate only if a position opened up. I told her I wanted to go to either New York or Los Angeles. About 2-3 weeks after I started the job, she called me and told me that Los Angeles actually just had a spot that opened up because someone had quit their job, so she told me that she wants to send me over there. Then 9 months later, I drove cross country in my VW GTI with my buddy and arrived in Los Angeles in December 2011 and I enrolled into the Howard Fine Acting Studio. That is when my journey started.
What was being on a live set for the first time like? Do you remember what you were thinking and feeling on that day?
I’ve been on commercial sets before but the most memorable time on set for me was on the set of Marco Polo season 2. Half the show was shot in Hungary and the other half in Malaysia. During this time, I actually was doing everything on my own, I got a commercial rep and booked a few commercials but I wanted to get more theatrical experience under my belt.
So I called my cousin Rick, and I asked if he could introduce me to some folks out here in LA to help and I got an answer from him that I never expected. He told me to come out to Malaysia while they’re filming Marco Polo, and just learn what is going on. So I quit my Federal Investigator job after 4 years, and I flew to Malaysia and it was such an amazing time. The budget of this project was somewhere around $100 million for the TV show, and the production and crew took over the entire Pinewood Studio lot.
I had never seen anything like it. I had no idea how many people worked on this production and I witnessed movie magic. I witnessed the set designers and art department making the costumes and making the sets and everything. This was also the first time I learned about the stunt world. I remember Rick introducing me to everyone and we came into the stunt tent, and all I saw were guys doing martial arts, flips, weapons training, and I was just so amazed. The stunt team members were your everyday superheroes. These guys were so physically fit and talented, literally the stunt team which was called Hitz International coordinated by Brett Chan had stunties from all over the world, China, Canada, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Thailand. I was so happy to be there and I was so humbled to be there. I felt extremely lucky.
And you know what the crazy thing is? Rick introduced me to the creator and he actually had a small day player role for me that shot for a day, and then I was able to join the stunt team during the last month and a half of shooting. So I was able to make some money and gain some serious experience while I was out there. So big big thank you to my cousin Rick, the creator John Fusco, and the stunt coordinator Brett Chan for letting me be a part of this incredible show.
What have been the three best pieces of advice given to you acting wise and have you ever had reason to use them?
The acting advice that I have received is very simple but it’s very effective. 1) Listen 2) Be present 3) be interesting and have a child like imagination. I guess that’s 4 but this is what I think about when I am doing my character breakdown and when I am practicing/rehearsing.
Here is another piece of advice that doesn’t necessarily pertain to acting, this is just good life advice. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.
Do you find the auditioning process is openminded or do you still encounter stereotyping? How do you handle that if you run into it?
It’s a little bit of both. When I was going out for a lot of commercial auditions I had some stereotypical asian nerd roles and I definitely have gone out for the typical asian bad guy role which I don’t mind. I think it is changing. I have a few friends who are doing some big things in the coming years and they’re Asian American so that gives me hope. And also shot out to Parasite for being the first foreign film to win best picture in the Oscars!! I am for sure a proud Korean right now, and I hope this will open up more doors and opportunities for Asian American Actors. My job as an actor is to do the auditions the best way possible. If they’re asking for an accent, I’ll put on an accent but I’ll also ask if I can do a take without the accent. Luckily for me, I haven’t run into any negative stereotypical roles and if that happens, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
You recently shot a series in Armenia called “Death Squad”,can you share what you thought of the experience? What was it like shooting scenes 70 stories underground?
This was possibly one of the best experiences I have ever had. 1) I booked a lead character 2) it wasn’t a stereotypical Asian role and my character was in a interacial marriage, 4) It was shot in a foreign country so me and my castmates were immersed into another culture and 5) made some lifelong friends.
I am so thankful to have worked with Mikey Markoff, Mike Ferguson, Michael Schwartz, Elyssia Koulouris, Dan Goldman and Clayton Turnage. Love these guys.
Booking this show was such a dream. What was even more crazy was that in the beginning of 2019, I had written my goals down in my journal and I had written that I wanted to book a movie, and then I scratched out the word “movie” and wrote in “television show.” Then what you know? I booked a television, Death Squad! How crazy is that? Overall I thought the experience was really fun and I do miss walking around the streets of Yerevan with my castmates looking for the best grocery store and best foods.
One of the coolest locations, literally the coolest, because we were 70 floors underground, was the working salt mines. Setting up here took a long time because we would have a crew of about 30 people, and there was only 1 elevator shaft which took like 4 mins to go down and 7 mins to come back up. So they had to do this a bunch of the equipment. What was really interesting is that this salt mine was used back in the day as a hospital for people with respiratory problems. Something about the air quality and the salt. Another crazy thing was when we were down there we would lose track of time because obviously there are no windows so we weren’t sure if it was afternoon, late at night or earlier in the morning. I think when we were filming in the salt mines these were 14+ hour days.
Tell us about the character you played,”Kirk Bennett” and would you take your wife along on a military mission like he did? I thought that was a very interesting part of the script. Did Elyssia Koulouris who played “Emily” talk about your characters much?
Kirk Bennett is a man of loyalty, duty, and courage. He is a righteous man. Would I ever have my wife on a mission like he did? I’m not sure, it depends on the mission. If it were this mission with the zombies? No. I wouldn’t. Lol. I’m not even sure if I would go.
Bringing the relationship into the show actually revealed a lot about the characters. Without the relationship you wouldn’t get the vulnerability and because of this you feel for the characters and you root for them. Elyssia and I did have many discussions about our characters and motivations and who she was.
What is your process into becoming the characters you play?
For this particular project, this was one of my favorite things to do. Doing these character breakdowns with my fellow castmates, and I’m sure if you read Mikey Markoff’s interview, but he speaks of the our morning ritual of “coffee and contemplation,” where would be sit in his hotel room (which was right next to mine, we were neighbors), drink coffee, converse and share about how thankful we are, and then we would go into some scene work and talk about our characters. This process was so fun, because we were just exploring these different characteristics and letting our imaginations go.
My process can be very simple or very complex, it all depends on the character and the scene. I break down the scene, find out what the true motivation is, and I figure out the why. It goes much deeper than that but that’s just a glimpse into the process.
How do you stay busy between acting projects? Any hobbies or non-acting projects that you like to do?
I actually work a full time job at a tech startup in Santa Monica. I’m lucky enough to have a job which allows me to have the flexibility to go on auditions and book gigs when I can. But other than the job I do my best to keep active and to take care of my body. I’ve done martial arts for years now so I continue to train and work out and I also have been working on conscious breathing techniques which helps me be more in my body.
I also have a podcast with one of my best friends in LA, Jarmin Runes, who is an up and coming professional stuntman. The podcast is called The Reel Talk Podcast by StuntinCo, and you can find it on itunes here, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-reel-talk-podcast/id1451895545 The Podcast is about origin stories of my fellow actors and stuntmen. I’ve had my good friends Daniel Joo, Minji Chang, and Remy Hii on it along with many others and Jarmin and I feel it’s always good to hear peoples backgrounds and stories of how they got into the industry. Lots of wisdom shared in the podcast.
I also love dogs. So when I came back from Armenia, I decided that I was ready to adopt! So I went to a local shelter/dog rescue, and I adopted my puppy! Her name is Lola and she is 9 months old. But not only did I adopt Lola, I met my beautiful girlfriend on the same day! The stars were truly aligned that day. Her name is Tiffany and she is a nurse and she is absolutely amazing. I got a sweet 2 for one deal and I consider myself very lucky to have met both these ladies.
The cheetah and I are flying over to watch your latest film but we are a day early and now you are playing tour guide,what are we doing?
Well Los Angeles is known for the good, especially the Korean food. So I will be taking you to Korea town for some Korean BBQ. After dinner, I have quite the sweet tooth and Ktown is also known for their desserts so it would be dinner and desert and that would be it for me. I am more of a homebody these days and I enjoy my nights in with my girlfriend and our dogs.
I like to thank Josh for taking the time from his busy schedule to chat with us. I am so looking forward to seeing back on the big screen soon and am also waiting for a “Death Squad” North American release later on this year.
You can follow Josh on his various social media platforms as well.
You can keep up with Josh and his upcoming projects on his IMDb page.
You can also follow him on his InstaGram page to see more pictures of Lola!!
You can also send him a tweet on Twitter by clicking here.
You can join his acting page on Facebook by clicking here.
Thank you for your continued support of not only Josh but of other artists we have chatted with. You can catch with over 90 other interview simply by clicking here
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