Randall Park has appeared on the big screen in movies like 2014's The Interview and 2019's Always Be My Maybe, the latter of which he co-wrote with Ali Wong and Michael Gomalco, and then he and Wong starred in. Park is one of the rare actors with roles in both the MCU (as Agent Jimmy Woo in the Ant-Man movies) and the DC universe (as Aquaman's Dr. Stephen Shin). Even all of that couldn't quite prepare him for his feature directorial debut.
"It's just as exciting, but probably a little more anxiety-inducing!" Park chuckles. "The fact that I was able to direct a movie that means so much to me, and that we got into Sundance, we got into Tribeca, and now we're coming out in theaters, it's very much a dream come true in a lot of ways."
That film is Shortcomings, an adaptation of Adrian Tomine's graphic novel of the same name and a longtime passion project for the first-time feature director. The movie centers on a trio of thirtysomething Asian Americans navigating relationships, identity, and growing up in the modern world. In January, the movie premiered at Sundance, where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.
Having officially cemented himself as a triple-threat, Park hopes to continue "doing a little bit of all of it."
"Early in my career, it was just about finding work — anything to build a resume. But once I started getting going, it really was about doing things that were the most thrilling, the most fun, and working with people that brought me the most joy, the most excitement," he muses. "Really finding opportunities to express myself in different ways and chasing that joy."
"I would love to do more of all of it — to keep acting, because I get so much joy from that. I'm currently working on a lot of projects as a writer. And directing another movie is definitely in the cards," he says. "And then, of course, more important than any of that is being with my family, spending time with my family, and having time for friends and the people in my life that I love."
Below, Park shares with A.frame five of his favorite films. "My top five films change constantly," he adds as a disclaimer, "so I'm thinking of movies that really inspired me in the making of Shortcomings."
Directed by: Noah Baumbach | Written by: Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig
I love that movie. And it was a real big source of inspiration for this movie. There were a lot of similar themes. I'm just a big fan of Noah Baumbach's movies, and to be able to tell a similar kind of story in New York — well, the Bay Area and New York — but with Asian Americans, for me, was so exciting. Because those are the kinds of movies that I love, and we rarely get to see our community in those kinds of stories. So, Frances Ha was definitely one that I found great inspiration from.
Directed by: Alexander Payne | Written by: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Sideways is another one that has similar themes. Paul Giamatti's character has a lot of connection to a character like Ben, and with Sherry Cola's character, Alice, there's a lot of connection to Thomas Haden Church's character in Sideways. It's a movie that I find incredibly melancholic, but also funny and poignant, and in a lot of ways, is also about personal growth and change. It's just a movie that I love.
Directed by: Rob Reiner | Written by: Nora Ephron
When Harry Met Sally is another one that I always have to say when talking about my favorite films, because I just loved that movie so much. The first time I saw it was in a theater in Los Angeles somewhere, and I remember just being so blown away. I don't think at the time I had ever been to New York, but I wanted to go to New York so badly. I love New York movies, and I don't know why — especially being born and raised in Los Angeles. It always felt like this magical place to me. When Harry Met Sally was a quintessential New York movie, and to be able to shoot our movie in New York City, it was so surreal. But that movie is a classic and one of my favorites.
Directed by: Billy Wilder | Written by: Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Jack Lemmon is one of my heroes as an actor, someone who I always felt like, 'I'd love to have that kind of career!' He's an everyman in a lot of ways, and I feel like I play similar characters. Shirley MacLaine is so amazing in that movie. Again, it's a New York movie. It's a movie about real people in relationships. There's also definitely a string of sadness lurking underneath a very funny and a classic movie.
Directed by: Reginald Hudlin | Written by: Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield
I saw Boomerang with Eddie Murphy when I was younger, and as silly and funny as it was, it was ultimately a very grounded story. What all of these movies have in common is they're about people in real-world places going through relationships. They all are about people growing and changing. I think that connects it to Shortcomings in a lot of ways, because to me, the main theme of Shortcomings is about: while the world around this guy changes, does he have to change with it?
That's the central question, and all of these movies have asked a similar question: Do you have to change when the world around you or the people around you change, and grow up, and move on, and become more mature? Something about that theme really speaks to me, and that's why I love these movies.