Bond Villain Zao
Originally planning to to pursue a career on Wall Street, Korean-American actor Rick Yune entered the showbiz as a model, becoming the first Asian-American featured in advertisements for Versace and Ralph Lauren's Polo. He eventually turned to acting and made his film debut in 1999 in the film adaptation of "Snow Falling on Cedars," playing Kazuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American war hero accused of killing a respected fisherman (played by Daniel von Bargen) in the close-knit community.
And after portraying Johnny Tran, the ruthless leader of a Vietnamese gang and the rival of Vin Diesel's character, in "The Fast and the Furious" (2001), Yune was shot to the spotlight for portraying James Bond villain Zao, opposite Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, in the 20th 007 feature, "Die Another Day" (2002).
He recently wrote, produced, and starred (as a Bangkok assassin) in the action/adventure movie "The Fifth Commandment" (2008), and will next be seen in the upcoming movies "Fear" and "Alone in the Dark II," a straight-to-video sequel to the 2005 movie.
Meanwhile, TV viewers could catch him guest starring in the TV series "Any Day Now," "The Division," "Alias," "Boston Legal," and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." He also provided his voice for the video game "Scarface: The World Is Yours" (2006).
The 6' 2" model-turned-actor with chiseled physique and handsome features was qualified for the Olympic Trials in Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial art) when he was 19. His younger brother is actor Karl Yune.
From August 2000 until late 2002, Rick Yune dated Chinese-American journalist Lisa Ling, who co-hosted ABC's "The View" (from 1999-2002) and National Geographic Channel's "Explorer."
Childhood and Family:
Born Richard Yun on August 22, 1971 in Washington, District of Columbia, Rick Yune would change his last name into Yune for the Screen Actors Guild when he joined the acting profession. A first-generation American, Rick's parents, Tom Taeho Yune and Wonhui Park Yune, came to Washington D.C, United States, from Korea in 1972. His younger brother is actor Karl Yune. He also has an older sister named Christine Yune.
Young Rick was educated at Good Council Catholic High School, Silver Spring, Maryland, and St John's Military School, Salina, Kansas. In 1994, he received his MBA degree from Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To raise cash for his studies, he tried several jobs, including as a stock broker, and was persuaded to become a photographic model in his spare time. A keen athlete, Rick qualified for the Olympic Trials in Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial art) when he was 19.
Die Another Day
While studying at Wharton School of Business, Rick Yune worked as an intern on Wall Street trading stocks during summer 1992. During that time, he was "discovered" by a modeling agent and soon became the first Asian-American featured in advertisements for Versace and Ralph Lauren's Polo.
Graduating from Wharton in 1994, Yune took acting lessons in his spare time and started to participate in auditions. Three years later, he landed his first acting job, with a guest spot as a district attorney on the NBC soap opera "Another World."
The newcomer made his film debut in 1999, playing Kazuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American war hero accused of killing a respected fisherman (played by Daniel von Bargen) in the close-knit community, in director Scott Hicks' film adaptation of David Guterson's post-WWII novel, "Snow Falling on Cedars." The film that also stars Ethan Hawke received Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.
Following his big screen debut, Yune retreated to the small screen. He was spotted as a guest in an August 2000 episode of Lifetime drama series starring Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint, "Any Day Now," and in an April 2001 episode of Lifetime cop/crime drama starring Bonnie Bedelia, "The Division."
Yune soon returned to the silver screen in 2001 when he co-starred as Johnny Tran, the ruthless leader of a Vietnamese gang and the rival of Vin Diesel's character, in Rob Cohen-directed car-racing film "The Fast and the Furious," which also stars Paul Walker. Although met with mixed reviews, the film was an unexpected summer hit and became one of the most well-known movies around the turn of the millennium, and introduced modified Japanese compacts into American popular culture.
"Since I was a kid I've wanted to be in a Bond movie. It's a rare thing when a father and son can share the same experience. My father and I have seen all nineteen films together, two or three times. They've meant so many things to me at so many different times." Rick Yune.
In the next year, Yune was launched to the spotlight after portraying James Bond villain Zao, opposite Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, in the 20th 007 feature, "Die Another Day" (2002), helmed by Lee Tamahori. Chosen for the part at age 31, Yune becomes the youngest Bond villain ever in the franchise. While he admitted he was intimidated the first time he stepped onto the set, he realized the best thing to do was just bare down and try his hardest. He said, "History will tell where I stand in the ranks of Bond villains, I have no control over that. I was worried about being the nut that ruined forty years of history."
About the film itself, Yune commented, "This is the Bond of the new millennium. Everything is updated, from the action sequences to the interaction between the characters. All the elements reflect changes that have occurred in the world in recent years. It's still within the spirit of Bond. It's just a little smarter than some of the things that have been done before."
After his big break, Yune went back to television and could be seen in two 2005 episodes of ABC's spy-fi series "Alias," playing a modern-day samurai named Kazu Tamazaki hunt down by Jennifer Garner's Sydney. He also appeared as a guest in an episode of ABC legal dramedy series "Boston Legal" and the popular, Emmy Award-winning CBS cop/crime drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Additionally, he provided his voice for the video game "Scarface: The World Is Yours" (2006), based on and is a quasi-sequel to the 1983 motion picture "Scarface" starring Al Pacino.
More recently, in 2008, Yune wrote, produced, and starred (as a Bangkok assassin) in the action/adventure movie "The Fifth Commandment," directed by Jesse V. Johnson and also stars Keith David and Bokeem Woodbine.
Yune is currently on set and will soon complete his upcoming film by German director Gerhard Hroß, "Fear," which follows an international group of medical students joins in a seminar on fear that ends with deadly results. He also will soon wrap "Alone in the Dark II," a straight-to-video sequel to the 2005 movie, “Alone in the Dark.” Uwe Boll will only produce this time, while letting writers of the first movie Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer direct and write it.