Randall Park: Between The Rock and a hard case on two hit shows of 2021

Randall Park in "Young Rock" on NBC and "WandaVision" on Disney+.
Randall Park in "Young Rock" on NBC (left) and "WandaVision" on Disney+. (Image credit: NBCUniversal/Marvel Studios)

Randall Park is one of those "that guy!!!" people you see on screen. That is not at all fair to the 46-year-old actor, but it's also true. Dude has been in just about everything. From Reno 911! to Las Vegas to Alias, ER to House to The Bold and the Beautiful, Cold Case and iCarly, CSI, Larry Crowne, The Office, Neighbors, The Mindy Project, The Interview, Community, Trainwreck, VEEP, Dr. Ken, BoJack Horseman, Always Be My Maybe, American Dad! ...

The list can, and very much does, go on.

Park is as memorable for what he does (there must be years of outtakes of him losing that trademark deadpan delivery) as who he is — one of too few Asian-Americans consistently seen in film and on TV.

And as luck (or the scheduling gods) would have it, Park has found himself right in the middle of two of the biggest shows of 2021 thus far.

The first, of course, is WandaVision on Disney+. 

In WandaVision, Park reprises his role of FBI agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the follow-up, Ant-Man and the Wasp. (So if you're watching all the Marvel movies in order, you're going to have to wait a while to get to Randall.) He's working a missing person case and is one of the first to realize that something isn't right. In fact, an entire town is missing.

"It's this real puzzle that he and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) attempt to solve," Park says. "Within this world is essentially this idyllic sitcom life that changes from various eras of sitcom, and in that world is Wanda and Vision, and basically Jimmy Woo and the team are trying to figure out what's going on."

It's a big problem to solve, for sure. But that sort of downplays the importance of Jimmy Woo and everything else that's going on outside of Westview, N.J. Without spoiling things, it's safe to say that the side of the show that includes Woo and the aforementioned Rambeau and Lewis is as important as the side with Wanda and Vision. Perhaps even more so, because it provides a sort of grounding that the sitcom-esque parts with Wanda and Vision that dominated the first three episodes did not. Wanda, we learn easily enough, is clearly at the center of it. She's always been one of the more powerful members of The Avengers, and the loss of Vision in Infinity War almost certainly is what's fueling the pain, which she's masking with some sort of alternate reality.

Approaching a new series in 2021 in the style of TV from the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s undoubtedly kept a good number of casual MCU fans away from WandaVision. They'd be wrong to do so — it's getting really good — but that only underscores the ambition of a show like WandaVision, which was the first new MCU original offshoot in the Disney+ era.  

"I am so excited to be a part of the first Marvel Studios series on Disney+," Park says. "I just think it's an honor to be kicking it off — in particular to be able to perform in this show, because this show is so different. It's so unusual. It's so risk-taking. But it's also just so smart and clever, and there's so much heart in it." 

The same could be said about Park's participation in the other big show of the early part of 2021 — Young Rock on NBC and streaming on Peacock.

Park plays himself, interviewing Dwayne Johnson — "The Rock" of stage, screen and, uh, ring — who's running for President of the United States in 2032. The two sit down for a fireside chat (nice touch, by the way, harkening back to the days of FDR in the 1930s and '40s), where Johnson tells his life story through series of weekly anecdotes.

"You can't tell because I used to be an actor, so I'm skilled at hiding my emotions, but I'm on the edge of my seat," Park, as Park, says to Johnson as they touch on the early years of the latter's life.

It's a very different role in a very different show. But just as he did in Ant-Man and now in WandaVision and Young Rock — and, frankly in just about everything he's ever been in — Park continues to stand out. Whether it's alongside superheroes and their counterparts, or football star-turned-wrestler-turned-actor-turned politician. There's just something about that guy, right?

The biggest difference? When you're talking about someone who can hold his own next to Dwayne Johnson or Elizabeth Olsen, you damn well better know his name.

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Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for AndroidCentral.com and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.