Stephen Oyoung: From Stunts to Superheroes
It's an exciting time for those who are a fan of popular culture and an even more exciting time for those who are working in the entertainment industry. Though the past year may have brought about the drought for the arts, there's still plenty to keep an eye out for, which will set actor, stuntman, and martial artist Stephen Oyoung in the spotlight.
Known for his voice talent in Insomanic's Spider-Man (2018) and announced as a cast member for WB Montreal's Gotham Knights (2021), Oyoung's acting career began at the age of seven. After navigating a number of career paths, the American actor had felt the strongest draw to performing in a number of capacities.
Oyoung's father taught him Wushu, Chinese Kung Fu, and he had found on-screen work as a stuntman in wildly popular franchises including The Last Airbender, Star Wars, and Thor. He has trained talent such as Keanu Reeves, Adam Driver, and Denzel Washington behind the scenes, aside from performing in stunt and motion capture roles himself.
"Let’s be real, old school stunts in the past often times had a kind of brutish connotation. But that’s not the way it is today," Oyoung said while reflecting on the advances in cinematic and gaming stuntwork, "There’s a science to all of it, from rigging, camera, wirework, fight choreography, even VFX. It’s all highly technical. It’s real and legitimate filmmaking." The actor also noted that many with a background in stunts cross their career paths into direction or production.
Oyoung views himself as an actor firstly and foremost but doesn't deny the 'action guy' within him. "When I see there’s a fight scene or what have you, wants to get out there and play. After all, if you can do something to lend authenticity to the shot, or put your own spin on the scene, I’d want to go for it, although I admit, it’s really nice having a stunt double when you can," he said.
DC FanDome's first half may have come and gone, but in its wake, has brought about a global sweep of anticipation for fans of the comic conglomerate and its sprawling spinoff series. WB Montreal's announcement for their next game, Gotham Knights, was earth-shattering, but an even bigger thrill for Oyoung.
"The strongest feeling I get from watching this [Knights] trailer reveals is satisfaction," the actor said, as he was introduced as Jason "Red Hood" Todd, for the first time to eager FanDome audiences. "Satisfaction that the project is out there in the open for the world to see because with these kinds of projects so much of our involvement is spent in secret, kind of like the Knights themselves in a way I suppose." What really excited him the most, however, was the recall of the trailer music shared by Batman (1989).
Having the ability to play any member of the Batman Family, or Batfam, let alone an outlying character and the later beloved icon is an "honor" and "just a lot of fun" for the multifaceted actor.
"As a trained martial artist and an action actor, this has been the role I’ve been literally fighting to play for my entire career. I think I relate to Jason’s black sheep status in the fam, and in the world. His rage, his internal conflict, his sense of justice, even his humor. I get it. He’s an exciting character to play," Oyoung explained while breaking down the personal significance that he holds for Red Hood.
There aren't many details to be spared for Red Hood's arc in Knights just yet, and this isn't the actor's first not last heroic role. Oyoung can also be recognized as Martin "Mister Negative" Li in Insomniac's Spider-Man game. When reflecting on his time working with both WB Montreal and Insomniac, the actor was complimentary of the casts and crews that care so deeply for their games. "I wish everyone could take a tour of these studios and see what goes on. I think they’d have a greater appreciation for what it takes to make these games," he said.
His heroic streak doesn't restrict him to just video gaming. Oyoung will take on the role of Barry Bishop in the Netflix series Jupiter's Legacy. After the first generation of superheroes passes their legacy on to the next generation, it's up to them to navigate their responsibilities through power, loyalty, and family.
"I had a lot of fun playing Barry. He’s got a good heart. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he’s still a professional and a fighter. He’s the one that’s probably closest to what we all would be like if we suddenly found ourselves in a fantastic world populated by superheroes and villains. I gravitated most to his carefree attitude, and of course, the action was something I could dive right into," Oyoung commented on his role. He said that people tend to see him in "a certain way," and that he loves playing superhero roles because he gets to portray something out of the boundaries that the world has set for him, allowing him to step outside of any expectations that are made for him.
"I get the chance to be the hero, or if I’m the villain, at least I have cool powers. Who wouldn’t want that? I love all acting because of the team aspect of it. It’s extremely gratifying to be a small part of this huge effort involving talented, hardworking artists in so many different skillsets coming together to create something that brings a little happiness to other people. It’s like a game where everyone wins!"