Randall Park on His Feature Film Directorial Debut, Shortcomings (Interview)

John Nguyen

Randall Park portrays likable characters, whether he’s in Fresh of the Boat or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With his feature film directorial debut, Shortcomings, he directs a complex and somewhat unlikable character, Ben, who is played by Justin H. Min (Beef, The Umbrella Academy). He is a manager at a theater and a struggling filmmaker, and when his girlfriend, Miko, goes away on a trip, he begins to explore his wants while also getting advice from his best friend Alice.

Shortcomings… Watching this, for me personally, I feel like there are a lot of just things I can relate to. The character works at a movie theater. I used to work at the movie theater. And there are other similarities. I’m like, “Wow, this is kind of close to home.” So for you, when you were reading the graphic novel, were you like, “Oh, yeah, I definitely want to make a movie of this!”?

Randall Park: Yeah, yeah, for sure. There are elements in Ben, Alice and Miko that I can identify with, or at least there was a time in my life when I could identify with them for better and for worse. But definitely, there are some uncomfortable things that I felt were definitely a part of me when I was younger.

You play a lot of characters that are super likable. And then for this one, you’re directing someone that I think is unlikable with a negative outlook on life. So what was that like? Just going from the positivity and then just embracing this? I think he’s an asshole.

Randall Park: It was fun. It was really fun. Because I know a lot of people like Ben and I’m very familiar with this type of character and ultimately, I don’t see him as just an asshole. I see him as a very complex person. Definitely, there’s a lot of sadness underneath there, and a lot of great things about him, too. He’s very much a loyal friend and good person, in some ways. Bad person in other ways. He’s definitely not a one-note character.

You can check out the whole interview below.

About Shortcomings

Ben, a struggling filmmaker, lives in Berkeley, California, with his girlfriend, Miko, who works for a local Asian American film festival. When he’s not managing an arthouse movie theater as his day job, Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blonde women, watching Criterion Collection DVDs, and eating in diners with his best friend Alice, a queer grad student with a serial dating habit. When Miko moves to New York for an internship, Ben is left to his own devices, and begins to explore what he thinks he might want.

The film is directed by Randall Park and written by Adrian Tomine, who created and wrote the original graphic novel of the same name. It’s produced by Hieu Ho, Randall Park, Michael Golamco, Margot Hand, Jennifer Berman, Howard Cohen, and Eric D’arbeloff.

Joining Justin H. Min are Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Tavi, Tavi Gevinson, Debby Ryan, Sonoya Mizuno, Timothy Simons, and Jacob Batalon.

Shortcomings releases in theaters on August 4, 2023.