Daniel Dae Kim on Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe, Keanu Reeves, food and Shang-Chi

Always Be My Maybe

Credit: Netflix

The new romantic comedy, Always Be My Maybe, stars Ali Wong (Netflix’s “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife”) and Randall Park (ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat”), and it’s available May 31st on Netflix. We had the chance to chat with actor Daniel Dae Kim about his role in the film, working with Wong and Park, Keanu Reeves, food and Shang-Chi.

Nerd Reactor: What’s it like to be a part of a film with comedians like Ali Wong and Randall Park?

Daniel Dae Kim: I was super excited to be a part of it. Once I heard they were doing it, it was one of those jobs that it didn’t matter the size of the role or how much they were paying me. I’m a fan of theirs and I really love what they were doing in terms of diversity. I said, “Sign me up.”

So you were interested even before reading the script?

I haven’t read the script. I just heard they were doing it and that they were interested in meeting, and I was like, “Sure! Yeah, I’m interested.”

What was it like after reading your part, and did you have any input on your character?

Once I read the part, I was a little concerned about how extreme the character would be because he’s not necessarily the best boyfriend. But I put my trust in them that they were going to calibrate it and help me find the character the right way. And we did. I feel like he’s representative of a lot of guys that I’ve known, and I didn’t find him too cartoonish. It’s a nice balance.

He could be seen as the antagonist or the bad boyfriend.

Yeah, he’s the bad boyfriend. But he’s also the springboard for Ali’s character to find Randall. I think that’s really the function I serve in the story. I get to have fun with Ali along the way.

Were you able to improvise?

Yeah. Nahnatchka Khan, the director, was really great about giving us the opportunity to do alternate lines and alternate endings and just try whatever we wanted. We would do a couple of takes as scripted, and once we had it, she would say, “Go ahead and try one for yourself,” or “Try this one.” It’s really fun working that way. It kept everything alive.

The movie does feature the restaurant business. How important is food in your life?

I couldn’t live without it, literally. [laughs] I love and appreciate local cuisines. One of the first things I do when I travel is I plan my meals. More than the sights and more than the nightlife, it will always be, “Where can I get the cuisine, what’s the specialty at the place, and how quickly can I get there?”

Is there a place with a dish, sandwich or food named after you?

There is a drink named after my character on Hawaii Five-O in Hawaii, but I don’t think there’s an actual food item that’s named after me. Although, I’m not 100% sure about that.

We need to fix that.

Oh, there is a gin drink in New York named after me, apparently.

That means you need to go there.

That’s right!

For Always Be My Maybe and being around comedians, did you want to show off your comedic chops?

I don’t know about showing off my comedic chops, but it was really great to have the opportunity to do comedy. It’s something that I’ve done in New York as a theatre actor, and I just haven’t had the chance to do it on film. To be able to do it with guys like Randall and Ali and Keanu Reeves, who was incredibly funny in the movie, was really special.

What was it like working with Keanu?

You know, I didn’t have the privilege of working with him at the shoot. I only met him at the premiere, but I have to tell you, I’m such a fan of his work in his movies. His commitment to choices and his willingness to just send himself up were really fantastic to watch and really endearing.

For diversity and Asians-Americans in cinema and TV shows, I think it’s getting better. Do you think it can be improved even more?

The answer is yes. I feel like there’s never been a better time to be an Asian-American working in the industry, and at the same time, I still feel like there’s still a long way to go. This movie along with others like Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat, they’re really a sign of great things to come and how far we’ve progressed. If this movie is as successful as a movie like Crazy Rish Asians, then I think it really bolds well for our future.

You’ve done all types of shows and movies. You’ve done sci-fi, you’ve done action and crime dramas. Is there anything you haven’t done yet?

Porn. [laughs]

What haven’t I done that I’d like to do? I would like to go back to classical stage sometimes. I love Shakespeare, and if there’s an opportunity to do the right role, I’d jump at it.

Marvel is doing a Shang-Chi movie, would you want to be a part of that?

Of course! If they do for Asian-Americans what Black Panther did for the African-Americans population, then I would definitely want to be a part of that because I think it’s important that we have that kind of representation as well. In the Marvel universe and the DC universe, it would be great to see a little bit more diversity in the lead superheroes of their films.

Would you be interested in playing Shang-Chi or maybe even play his father?

You know, it’s hard to know what they have in mind. All I’ll say is that if it’s a positive representation that changes our perceptions of Asians and Asian-Americans, then I would love to contribute in any way.

Always Be My Maybe will be available on Netflix on May 31, 2019. You can visit the movie’s Netflix page at https://www.netflix.com/title/80202874

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