To think that he seriously considered a long-term career in writing will surprise some of his fans. However, the actor did initially start a writing career before a Shakespeare summer workshop opened him to the possibilities of acting. Aaron Yoo’s movies date back to 2003 when he appeared in the minor role of Ethan in an episode of the TV series Ed.
Since then, the Asian-American actor has honed his skills and is known for appearing in supporting roles in many A-list movies like Disturbia (2007), American Pastime (2007), 21 (2008), and Friday the 13th (2009). Here, we’ve curated a list of 10 of the projects Yoo has been involved in that reflect the best and the worst movies and TV shows of his career.
1. Rocket Science (2007)
This comedy-drama tells the story of Haf Hefner (Reece Thompson), a 15-year old teenager who is alienated from social circles by his uncontrollable stutter. Inspired by his crush on the star of the debate team, Hef decides to plunge headfirst into debating in a bid to eliminate his stutter. Aaron plays Heston, friend to Thompson’s character.
While this movie performed abysmally at the box office – it returned just $750,000 on a $4.5 million budget – it was a completely different story for the critics who hailed the film for its character performances and its spark of humanity. Going by its critic’s approval rating of 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Rocket Science is Aaron Yoo’s highest critically accepted movie on this list.
2. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Next on our list of Aaron Yoo’s movies sees the actor take on another supporting role, playing Thom, a friend of the lead character Nick O’Leary (Michael Cera). Nick and Norah (Kat Dennings) are both overwhelmed by the heartache brought on by their respective exes. Discovering that they have similar tastes in music, they decide to pretend to be an item as together they comb the streets of Manhattan looking for where their favorite band ‘Where’s Fluffy?’ is playing. Over the course of the night, they begin to discover that perhaps their connection extends beyond their similar taste in music.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite playlist is also one of Aaron Yoo’s best movies. It received an approval rating of 74 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was also praised for the chemistry between Cera and Dennings, the New York setting, and the movie soundtrack. It was made on a budget of $10 million and realized a $33.5 million gross at the box office.
3. Disturbia (2007)
Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) has just lost his father and is finding it difficult to come to terms with his new reality. He begins to act out at school while his mother picks up extra jobs to stay on top of their financial needs. After attacking his teacher at school, the teenager is put under a court-instructed house arrest. With more time on his hands than he knows what to do with, Kale starts grows suspicious of his neighbor, Robert Turner (David Morse) and teams up with just arrived girl-next-door Ashley (Sarah Roemer) and his best friend Ronnie Chu (Yoo) to investigate if his suspicions are legitimate or not.
Disturbia was nominated for more than nine awards, clinching three Teen Choice Awards in 2007, and one ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards the following year. The movie was also a commercial success, raking in $117.8 million on a production cost of $20 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the thriller film was awarded an approval rating of 69 percent.
4. 10 Years (2012)
On the set of 10 Years, Aaron Yoo joins the likes of other notable stars like Anthony Mackie, Justin Long, Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, and Chris Pratt. 10 Years is a rom-com that basically compares the current lives of a group of high school friends to their lives ten years prior – while still in high school. They come together for a high school reunion and as the night unfolds, their different motives begin to come to light.
Tatum plays Jake who is struggling with feelings for his girlfriend, Jess (Jenna Dewan), and his high school sweetheart, Mary (Rosario Dawson). Cully (Chris Pratt) is married to Sam (Ari Graynor) and comes to the reunion to make penance for his bullying days but finds that his demons are still very much alive. Yoo was part of the supporting cast and played the role of Peter Jung.
The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and opened in theaters in September 2012. It ended with an average rating of 59 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and could only make back a forgettable $203,000 at the box office.
5. The Tomorrow People (2013 – 2014)
Our first title on this list of Aaron Yoo’s movies that is a series. In The Tomorrow People, the Asian-American actor plays the main role of Russell Kwon, a member of the ‘homo superior’. The series follows the story of a group of humans who have who possess paranormal abilities and are an indicator of the next phase of evolutionary development. Throughout the series, they are being hunted by a paramilitary group of scientists who hold firmly to the belief that they are a danger to the rest of the human race.
The sci-fi series was originally made by The CW. Aaron Yoo appeared on all 22 episodes of its first and only season. The Tomorrow People was canceled after just one season. It has a below-average rating of 45 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. 21 (2008)
Ben Campbell, a genius student at MIT is struggling to pay his tuition and consequently joins a group of intellectually gifted MIT students, led by their unconventional mathematics professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey). The group have cracked the code to winning at the game of Blackjack every time and gives the casinos a run for their money. Of course, greed and the need to impress a girl soon get the better of Campbell as he begins to push the limits and digs himself a pit deeper than he can climb out of.
Based on Ben Mezrich’s best-selling book, Bringing Down the House, this heist drama was crushed by critics for being unnecessarily melodramatic, consequently dampening the effect of the true story which it was based on. 21 was a box office success, making $157.9 million at a cost of $35 million. Critics thought differently though and awarded the movie a terribly low rating of 35 percent.
7. American Pastime (2007)
Set in the post-WWII era of 1941, this historic drama reflects the conditions that Japanese-Americans had to endure, thanks to stifling policies like President Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘Executive Order 9066’. American Pastime follows the Nomura family made up of Japanese-born parents and American-born children. Leonardo Nam plays Lane Nomura, and Aaron Yoo plays the main role of Lyle Nomura, Lane’s younger brother.
The movie also stars the likes of Gary Cole, Sarah Drew, Judy Ongg, and Olesya Rulin. It has a low critical rating of 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience score of 69 percent.
8. Gamer (2009)
This Aaron Yoo movie sees technology catch up with the concept of mind control. Billionaire and misanthrope Ken Castle (Michael Hall) has control over a tech that allows him to control other humans. He uses this to create the world’s most popular and controversial online first-person shooter game, except this time the game avatars are real people with real lives.
Logan Lerman plays Simon, a gamer with Jedi-level skill who manages to keep his character Kable (Gerard Butler) alive in the game as he pushes him through one battle after the other. Kable’s life has fallen apart as a result of the mind control that forces him to fight. As a result, he begins to devise a plan to free himself from the grip of the game and expose Castle’s nefarious enterprise on live television. Yoo plays a character known as Humanz Dude in the film.
Giving it a poor approval rating of 30 percent, critics said that Gamer had all of the action at the expense of the flair. At the box office, the sci-fi action film also failed to impress as it fell $8 million short of its $50 million production budget.
9. Friday the 13th (2009)
For a franchise that had already proven its success as early as the 1980s, this 2009 reboot, according to critics, felt like an unnecessary continuation of the Friday the 13th slasher narrative. The story follows Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) as he searches for his sister with the help of a group of thrill-seeking college kids. Little do they know that their search has led them right into the domain of one of the most horrifying serial killers in film history – the machete-wielding Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears)
Yoo plays Chewie, one member of the group of college kids. He is joined on set by the likes of Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Danielle Panabaker, Nana Visitor, and America Olivo among others. Released in February 2009, Friday the 13th was made with a budget of $19 million. Although it underperformed in the eyes of the critics – it was given a rating of 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes – it made a revenue of $92.7 million at the box office.
10. McCanick (2014)
The last Aaron Yoo’s film on this list is the crime drama McCanick. When a seemingly harmless man, Simon Weeks (Corey Monteith) is released from prison, it triggers something in Detective Eugene McCanick (David Morse). With the help of his partner Floyd (Mike Vogel), McCanick hunts down Weeks, even against the wishes of his boss, the Chief of Police, and dangles on the edge of the law. As the story unfolds and Mack gets closer to capturing Weeks, it brings us closer to a secret from the Detective’s past that it turns out only Weeks has the power to unravel.
Although there is no consensus statement from critics for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes, McCanick was awarded a painfully low rating of 13 percent. The audience rating wasn’t much better either, standing at just 15 percent.