Every week, the cast and crew of ABC’s Taiwanese American family comedy, Fresh Off the Boat, is taking EW behind the scenes. For each episode, one member is recapping, sharing thoughts on what went down, and walking us through the ins-and-outs of the show. This week, star Randall Park brings us into the season three premiere, “Coming from America.”
I wasn’t looking forward to shooting our premiere episode of season three in Taiwan. In part, because I had grown this amazing beard during the hiatus, and I knew that diving back into production would mean that I’d have to shave it off. All my life, I wasn’t able to grow a beard, or at least one that didn’t look like a preschool art project. But during the hiatus, something happened to me. To my body. I had become a gorgeous man.
But it was time to get back to work. I refused to let go of my glorious facial hair until the very last minute, so it stayed with me during that 15 hour plane ride to Taipei. As soon as I got out of that terminal, I was hit with a level of heat and humidity that I had never experienced before in my life. It was like stepping into a steamy pork bun. To think, most of our Taiwan scenes were going to be exteriors. This was going to be rough.
The morning of my first day of production, I stood in front of the hotel bathroom mirror and said goodbye. It was difficult. It was emotional. But it had to be done. One day, we will meet again, sweet beard. Then, with a freshly shorn face and a heavy heart, I hopped into a van and headed off to set.
Our “sets” were some of the great landmarks of this amazing city. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Confucian Temple, The Grand Hotel, Taipei International Airport, Dihua Street. It was so fun to be reunited with my TV family and a handful of our awesome crew from back home. They worked alongside a Taiwanese crew, who were incredibly talented, gracious and professional. Despite the blistering heat, the language barriers, and the massive amount of coordination needed to pull these shots off, we somehow did it. ‘Tis true, under the direction of our fearless leader, Nahnatchka Khan, anything is possible.
I was reminded of how much fun it is for me to play the character of Louis. Being able to embody someone so positive, so full of life, really has made me a more positive person. On top of that, I got to spend the week with my old friend, Ken Jeong, who plays my brother Gene, while making new friends, among them the amazing Taiwanese actress Ann Hsu, who plays Gene’s fiancé. Then there were the dinners with the cast and crew, late night karaoke, the occasional shots of Kaoliang… What a great time it was.
Aside from being a monumental moment in TV history, shooting in Taiwan turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life. And so begins season three of Fresh Off The Boat. Sure, I still think about my beard from time to time, but no amount of facial hair can fill my heart like being a part of this hilarious and important show. I’m so glad we’re back!
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.