Randall Park is a multifaceted actor. He’s starred in the sitcom Fresh Off the Boat opposite Constance Wu, playing the steady father to three kids. He’s had roles in comedy films like The Interview playing Kim Jong Un, and in Trainwreck. He’s enjoyed success as the romantic lead in the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe, and has built up steady work as a voice actor, making appearances in Robot Chicken, BoJack Horseman, Adventure Time: Distant Lands, and Paw Patrol: The Movie.
Despite having a natural character voice, Park struggled to book voice work for many years. “I always wanted to do voice overs and I would audition, but I would never book it,” said Park. “I always thought, ‘Gosh it must be the quality of my voice. Maybe my voice is kind of grating? There must be a reason why folks don’t want to book me for these animated shows.’” As the years went on, I slowly started to do more.”
Now, the actor has a significant role in an ensemble animated show Human Resources. The Netflix series has a talented all star cast, including Aidy Bryant, Rosie Perez, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Cannavale, and the list goes on. It’s a spin-off of the hit show Big Mouth, but instead of focusing on pre-teens coming of age, Human Resources pivots to raunchier fare showcasing the lives of the Hormone Monsters, Lovebugs, and other creatures dealing with office life.
Randall Park plays Pete the Logic Rock, who’s often the voice of reason, among the craziest of the creatures. The actor spoke with AwardsWatch about the spin-off and how he’s most like steady albeit neurotic Pete.
Niki Cruz: Human Resources is so much fun — it’s a different take on the work place comedy — it’s twisted, it’s raunchy and nuanced, and has a bit of that Big Mouth tone.
Randall Park: It’s like Big Mouth, but it’s also more adult in a lot of ways. Because it’s more adult, it allows us to be raunchier and delve into what it means to be human. It’s not just in the realm of these kids — it runs the gamut throughout life as far as the human experience, and because of that, we get to go to some really deep places while also telling some dirty jokes.
NC: You’ve done a lot of animated voice work over the years. The animated world, specifically for adults, has gotten so broad. It’s really grown from the South Park days.
RP:Yeah, it’s really exciting. I grew up watching animated cartoons as a kid, and even throughout the proliferation of the adult animated shows, I was all in with shows like The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, The Life & Times of Tim — there’s just so many different shows. I feel like this show is really part of the evolution in terms of the places you can go with an animated show, which is really exciting for me.
NC: Voice acting in general seems like such a different dynamic, you’re typically in a booth, acting off of voices. What made you get into that part of acting?
RP:It was something I always wanted to do because I always loved animation, but I just couldn’t book the work, but over time the opportunities just started popping up. While doing it, I’ve learned that it’s a real specific art form. Some of these voice over artists who only do voice over — you see them in a booth and realize they’re amazing! I think just through time and experience, you become a little more aware of how to do it, but it’s something where I learn more things over time.
NC: You’re pretty much the only voice of reason while all these other characters are bouncing off of their IDs. How does it feel to be the straight man among all these characters?
RP: It’s an honor to be in that position, but it also made me wonder, why did they cast me for this? What about me screams logic? As I was doing the show, I realized, “Gosh, I’m a lot like Pete in a lot of ways,” and I think that must come off in my voice. There’s a very logical, organized side to the way that I think, and the cool thing about the show is each of these characters, while they have their special purview, they experience the gamut of emotions, and it’s really evident with Pete and the things he goes through. It shows that being logical doesn’t necessarily lead you to an emotionless life. You’re going to go through it, and logic will help you, and sometimes save you, but you’re still going to experience those ups and downs.
NC: And as far as you relating to Pete was it just a matter of getting the character sides and instinctually knowing who this character is, or did it take developing his voice with the writers?
RP: Really, it was the former. I think they really thought there was something in my acting and the quality of my voice that fit the character, and they encouraged me to read him as myself and not really push this character too much. I didn’t have to do too much. I didn’t have to create the backstory for the character. All I had to do was lean into these sides of me that were already there and to ultimately have fun.
I really pulled from sides of myself that I didn’t really think too much about until this show. Pete is obsessed with organization and having a clean inbox, and I realized, “Oh my God, I’m the same!” In my mail, I have many folders and different categories, and after I read an email, I’ll put it in a folder of the corresponding category, and I never thought that was weird.
NC: It’s a nice feeling!
RP: It IS a nice feeling! I think I do that in a lot of ways in my life. I’m not as logical as Pete, but I definitely weigh the options and the pros and cons of things. I’ll go with my gut a lot but a part of that process, my gut just automatically leans towards the most logical action.
NC: Given that you now have the full IN inside the “Human Resources” experience and this zany workplace, what’s a job you would hate to do?
RP: That’s a tough question for me because I have worked many jobs throughout my life, and I’ve always found them fun, at least in retrospect, except for one. I was a security job at a museum. Basically, my job was to stand, and that’s it. I stood all day, and maybe if someone got too close to a painting, I would tell them to back up a little bit. The threat of someone stealing a painting was not there at all, and if someone did try, I would not have been equipped to do anything about it. So, literally, my job was to stand and stare, and that was really a miserable job for me and one I would not want to do again.
Human Resources is now available to stream on Netflix.