Young Mazino BEEFs up
Young Mazino, who plays Paul Cho in creator and showrunner Lee Sung Jin’s (Dave, Silicon Valley) new series BEEF, has sometimes worried that he’s just a pseudo-artist. “I grew up in Maryland in the suburbs, and I came from a background where art is not really celebrated. It was a very distant thing,” says the actor. But now, Mazino finds himself in a surreal environment, acting alongside those he calls “titans of the industry”: Oscar nominee Steven Yeun (Minari) and Emmy-nominated comedian, writer, and actor Ali Wong.
BEEF follows Yeun’s character, Danny, an unhappy contractor, and Wong’s stressed-out entrepreneur Amy Lau, whose lives converge in a road rage incident that turns the strangers into mortal enemies. Mazino plays Danny’s younger brother, who gets sucked into the beef when he falls for Amy’s catfishing and the two begin an entanglement. Mazino could relate to a few of Paul’s traits: “There’s a lot of myself in Paul, particularly our affinity for video games and anime,” says the actor, who also shares his character’s crypto-investing savvy. “When the pandemic hit, I had quit my job. So I started doing options trading. I made quite a good amount to survive off of Dogecoin, which was crazy.”
Physicality was another important aspect of the Cho brothers’ complicated and at times hilarious dynamic: While Paul is stronger, at every turn he defers to the older Danny. Mazino was asked to bulk up for the role in just a matter of weeks. “I just went ham at the Santa Monica pier,” he says. “I was guzzling gallons of whey protein powder, which I have forever sworn off [since].” Mazino also needed to understand what it was to argue with a brother: “I have two older sisters, so I wasn’t supposed to raise my voice or ever lose my cool. I’ve seen my friends with brothers just straight up wailing on each other, which is something that Steven and I explored as we were trying to get ready for the show.”
As for beef, Mazino knows the taste all too well: “I guess it’s something to do with the suburbs in Maryland, but fist fights were occurring throughout my childhood into college. What I realized is that beef never really goes away. You just have to learn to manage and deal with it.”