Childhood & Early Life
Rick Yune was born on August 22, 1971, in Washington DC, to Korean parents Wonhui Park and Taeho Yune. He grew up with his younger brother, Karl Yune, who also happens to be an actor.
Growing up, Rick was a fan of Asian films, and that was the genesis of his love for martial arts. He joined ‘Tae kwon do’ classes as a kid and trained himself religiously.
He studied at ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel High School’ in Maryland and at ‘St. John’s College High School’ in Washington DC. While practicing martial arts, he had not thought of a career in acting and had wanted a more conventional career. It led him to enroll at the ‘Wharton School’ of ‘The University of Pennsylvania,’ where he studied for a degree in finance. He also did an internship at a stock-trading firm to learn the tricks of the trade.
By the time he started attending college, Rick’s love for ‘Tae kwon do’ intensified, and he soon became a national-level fighter. He succeeded at the ‘Olympic’ qualifiers when he was just 19 years of age, but he decided to focus on his studies instead. He also became a highly competitive ‘Golden Gloves’ boxer.
Once out of college, he started working as a stockbroker for the company ‘SAC Capital.’ However, he did not like the job and quit in order to start his own company. Right around that time, he started modeling and was soon “accidentally discovered” by a modeling agency.
His modeling career thrived while he was in college, and he became one of the very few American–Korean models to be featured in commercials for world-renowned brands, such as ‘Polo’ and ‘Versace.’
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The next logical choice, after a successful career in modeling, was acting, and Rick moved to Los Angeles to start auditioning for roles. In 1998, he made his acting debut as an extra in the film ‘Nathan Grimm.’
The next year was a big one for Rick, as he made his official acting debut with the film ‘Snow Falling on Cedars.’ He played the role of a Japanese–American war veteran ‘Kazuo Miyamoto,’ who, in the film, is accused of the murder of a poor man.
‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ was based on a novel of the same name and starred Ethan Hawke in the lead role. The film did very well on the critical front and earned a nomination for the ‘Academy Award for Best Cinematography.’ The film was a moderate commercial success but did a great job at putting Rick in the mainstream spotlight.
In 2001, Rick auditioned for the role of the villain in the film ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ starring Vin Diesel in a leading role. Rick won the role of ‘Johnny Tran,’ the main villain. The film was a moderate critical success but was a blockbuster hit at the box office. This was his first major breakthrough. The film was later developed into a hugely successful franchise.
In 2002, he got the chance to play a negative character in the twentieth ‘Bond’ film, ‘Die Another Day,’ which starred Pierce Brosnan as ‘Bond.’ Rick played a North Korean spy in the film. The film became the highest grossing ‘Bond’ film at that time. The critical and commercial success of the film further established Rick’s position in the industry as a highly competitive actor.
Following his success, Rick took a six-year-long hiatus from films. Meanwhile, he did little TV roles. He played guest roles in the series ‘The Division,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘Alias,’ and ‘Boston Legal.’
In 2008, he returned to films with a starring role in ‘The Fifth Commandment.’ The same year, he appeared in ‘Alone in the Dark II,’ a German–American horror film, in which Rick played the role of ‘Edward Carnby.’ Although the film received a better response than ‘Alone in the Dark,’ it was not successful enough to be turned into a franchise.
In 2009, he played the role of ‘Dr. Lee’ in ‘Beyond Remedy,’ and followed it up with the role of ‘Takeshi’ in the action thriller ‘Ninja Assassin.’ ‘Ninja Assassin’ was high on action and gore but failed to impress the audiences. It received mixed reviews, both at the box office and on the critics’ scales.
In 2011, he played key parts in two lesser-known films, ‘Remigration’ and ‘China-Town,’ while he waited for another major career breakthrough. He was signed to play a key role in the martial-arts film ‘The Man with the Iron Fists.’
The 2012 film ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ was a big-budget venture, co-written by Eli Roth and presented by Quentin Tarantino. The film starred Rick as ‘Zen-Yi, The X-Blade,’ a warrior on a mission to avenge his father’s death. The film was presented as an ode to the Chinese martial-arts films of the 80s and the 90s, and although it received a few good reviews, it was just moderately successful at the box office.
In 2013, he played a supporting role in the action thriller ‘Olympus Has Fallen,’ which starred Gerard Butler in the lead role. Rick played a North Korean political mastermind and his performance was highly appreciated. The film was a critical and commercial success. Rick has not signed any film since its release.
In 2014, Rick turned to TV again. He played ‘Kaidu’ in the series ‘Marco Polo.’ In 2017, he was signed to play a major role in the successful crime drama ‘Prison Break.’
Apart from acting, Rick has, over the years, also excelled in modeling. In 2002, he was voted as one of the ‘Sexiest Men Alive’ by ‘People’ magazine.
Rick Yune is said to have been in a relationship with German actress Nastassja Kinski. He is also said to have dated Dania Ramirez and Lisa Ling.
Rick Yune’s last name was ‘Yun.’ He had to change the spelling of his name for the ‘Screen Actors Guild’ registration.
Rick has been a ‘James Bond’ fan since childhood. As stated by him, he was worried about ruining the 40-year-old franchise and its glory, when he got the villain’s part in ‘Die Another Day.’