LOS ANGELES -- “Fresh Off the Boat” star Randall Park has been able to turn up in a number of film and television projects over the last two years as everything from the governor of Minnesota (on “Veep”) to Amy Schumer’s jerky boyfriend (in “Snatched”).
Toss in roles in “Office Christmas Party,” “The House,” “Dr. Ken” and “Angie Tribeca” and it’s clear he’s enjoying the spoils of success.
“It’s so much fun to play different things,” Park explains. “Sometimes I’ll do it for a friend or someone I’ve worked with before and they’ll call up and say, ‘You want to have fun for a day?’ It’s different every time.”
The extracurricular work lets Park remind directors he’s not just the stoic dad with the big heart. He also can be someone fairly cutthroat (like dictator Kim Jong-un in “The Interview”) or dopey.
“I’ve always felt if you want to make a living in this industry, you kind of have to push yourself to have a little bit of range. A lot of Asian-American actors have more range than a lot of other actors because there’s not as much work. When they ask for an Asian-American actor, they see every Asian actor, just because there aren’t that many. So you have to push yourself to find your comfort zone with other roles.”
“Snatched,” Park says, was a real treat because “I always felt that was in my wheelhouse. I always wanted to do a romantic comedy. That was the genre I loved growing up.”
While he was keen on watching pop culture hits as a child, his parents insisted on tuning in Korean-language shows. “I wanted to watch all the things that were cool. They didn’t really care for that too much.”
Korean immigrants, Park’s parents had careers in business. “It was a long time coming for them to leave and be OK with me being an actor,” he says. Now, “it’s gotten to a point where they’re proud and happy for me.”
On “Fresh Off the Boat,” Park plays an immigrant eager to make his mark in the United States. He opens a restaurant in Orlando and has to deal with children who want that pop culture life and a strict wife who wants them to make the most of their educations.
For the 43-year-old actor, the series is a good learning tool. “It’s prepped me a little bit,” he says. “A lot of the father/son stuff I’ve encountered on the show is stuff I’m going to deal with in a different way with my daughter (who’s 5).”
Those TV sons have changed drastically, too, since “Boat” started in 2015. “One is definitely taller than me at this point; another is very close. So it’s going to be interesting.”
In the upcoming season, Park’s Louis Huang has to deal with singer Michael Bolton as a business partner. When the last season ended, Bolton indicated he wanted greater control in the restaurant and Louis had to figure out how he was going to address the intrusion.
Bolton, Park says, was great fun to play with. Since “Boat” is set in the 1900s, a number of trends and personalities who were big then have passed through the show.
“I was in grad school at the time and most of the things I’ve recognized have been pretty on point. Every time I get a new script it’s like opening a present – what guest stars are we going to get from the ‘90s that I idolized? To have them show up has been pretty amazing.”
To moonlight in all those other film and TV projects, Park says he takes advantage of “Boat’s” three weeks on, one week off schedule. “Not all sitcoms have that but has allowed me to pop in for a scene or two here and there.
“Getting to play wildly different characters has just been great.”