During the taping of the Boys vs. Girls episode of ABDC, I got the chance to speak with the friendly and laid back Justin Chon. The 27-year-old actor recently received national attention for his performance as Eric Yorkie in Twilight and is currently on the heels of another success: the upcoming film Crossing Over, an intense drama that weaves together several vignettes about immigrants in Los Angeles.
Why was he hanging out at ABDC, you ask? It turns out that Justin’s apparel store, Attic, which is located in San Diego and in his home base of Orange County, is currently supplying clothing for the boys of Quest Crew. In this two-part interview, we touch upon his past work, his inspirations, his dream projects and his ethos on acting. I enjoyed getting to know this passionate young actor, and I hope you guys will, too.
TJL: Can you tell us more about your store?
JC: It’s called Attic, and every season we’ve provided clothing for certain teams, and this year, we ended up providing clothes for Quest.
TJL: So, it’s more like an urban style, street wear kind of store?
JC: Yeah, and I’m out here to support the show and support them [Quest] and check it out [ABDC]. I’m a huge fan of the show.
TJL: In regards to your store, do you do any designing for the lines? Or is it consigned?
JC: No, it’s not consigned. We have accounts with different brands, and I’m not really too involved with the buying, but one of my best friends [James Yang] runs the store with me. He’s mostly in charge of that. But yeah, we just kind of got together and started buying a lot of clothes we like and [are] selling them now, yeah.
TJL: Very cool. It’s great if you can make a living doing that.
JC: Yeah, definitely.
TJL: I understand that your father was an actor in Korea, right?
TJL: What was that experience like for you, and how did that impact you as a kid?
JC: When I was young—growing up—I used to watch his black and white movies, and it definitely influenced me a lot because I was just like, “That’s possible?” Even back then, that was like in the 60’s, so that drove me to kind of follow my dreams. But there’s a little bit of a difference. He did it out of necessity; he needed to make money. I always had an interest in acting, but he allowed me to be like, “Okay, well, you can do it.”
TJL: Did he have any words of advice for you when you started getting into acting?
JC: I mean, he’s just like, “It’s a really lonely road. It’s a really hard life, but if you’re up for it, go for it.” And he gave me a few acting tips, and he continues to critique my work. [laughs]
TJL: And what’s his best advice so far?
JC: I would say… he says all the time, “You gotta make it real. You gotta make it truthful.”
TJL: And on that subject—on Eric Yorkie—what sort of preparation went into that role? Because it’s not typical [in mainstream American media] that a person of Asian descent is given a role that actually transcends all colors and barriers.
JC: Yeah. I just thought of it not in terms of color. I was just like, “What does this kid [Yorkie] need, and what does he want? And what’s his main driving force in life?” I just figured that he’s just like anybody else. He really wants to be liked, but really liked to an extreme. So, at his school—I boiled it down to one word: he’s like a diplomat.
TJL: Yeah, he is.
JC: Yeah, so he’s the type of guy in your school where he’s friends with one guy from each crew.
TJL: Ah, the interloper.
JC: Yeah! [laughs] So, he just drifts around. He has his little clique, but he’s in with everybody. So, he obviously has to be in a good mood all the time and [be] very energetic and [be] someone that people want to be around. And he might not be funny, but he tries to be.
TJL: Will we be able to expect to see him in the subsequent [Twilight] films?
JC: I think so, I think so.
TJL: People like [Yorkie]—when they’re always trying to please other people—are sometimes very repressed on the inside because they can’t show anger or loneliness, so will you eventually get a chance to play any of that in the later films?
JC: I don’t think in Twi—actually, I have no idea because I haven’t read the scripts yet, but I know in my other movie that’s coming out, you’ll see a lot of drama.