Although Brad Pitt was an executive producer on Lee Isaac Chung's Minari, the Oscars were the first time star Youn Yuh-Jung met the Hollywood star. On Sunday night, when she accepted the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Youn joked about meeting Pitt and wondered why he never visited the film set. Minari tells the story of a Korean family that moves from California to Arkansas to start a farm, and Youn plays the grandmother Soon-ja.
"Mr. Brad Pitt, finally," Youn said as she reached the stage after Pitt announced her as the winner. "Nice to meet you. Where were you when we were filming in Tulsa? It's a great honor to meet you." After delivering her rousing speech, Pitt helped lead Youn backstage, where Youn took Pitt's arm. Youn referred to Tulsa since that is where Chung shot the film. Pitt's Plan B was also the production company behind the film, which A24 distributed.
Yuh Jung Youn beginning her Oscar speech by shooting her shot with Brad Pitt. She really is the gift that keeps on giving pic.twitter.com/lKNoZkectr— Liv Marks (@OliviaLilyMarks) April 26, 2021
Youn became the first Korean actress and only the second Asian actress to win Best Supporting Actress. The first was Miyoshi Umeki, who won for Sayonara back in 1958. Youn, 73, began acting on the screen in the 1970s. "This has never happened in Korea, and I feel like I'm an Olympian competing for my country," Youn recently told NPR. "It's very stressful."
“Brad Pitt, nice to meet you.”April 26, 2021
Soon-ja is not a "typical grandmother," Youn said. In the film, her grandson David (Alan Kim) does not like her at first because she does not act in the ways he expects her to. "She was a widow — a Korean War widow, a single mother and a working mother," Youn said. "She likes to have some fun because she's been through a lot. She tries to comfort [her family]."
As for the film itself, Youn told NPR she drew from her own family experiences. Her own childhood was marked by war. "It's a heartbreaking story," Youn explained. "I was born in 1947, so I was maybe 3 when the Korean War started. And after the war, we didn't have enough water, enough rice, nothing. My grandmother passed away during the wartime, and my great-grandmother happened to be alive until I was 9."
Yuh Jung Youn to Brad Pitt, producer of "Minari" via Plan B: "Where were you during filming?" QUEEN!!!!— Matt Donnelly (@MattDonnelly) April 26, 2021
Minari was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Actor for Steven Yeun. The film is available to rent on VOD and screening in theaters.