Who Is Justin Chien? 4 Things to Know About The Brothers Sun Star

By Klein Felt Posted:
Justin Chien in The Brothers Sun

Get to know the star of The Brothers Sun Justin Chien with these four fun facts. 

Netflix's latest action comedy (starring the likes of Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh) follows the titular Sun family as they attempt to cover up their shady connection to the Taiwanese crime world. 

Brothers Sun marks Chien's mainstream acting debut, having previously appeared in smaller streaming projects and several shorts before this.

4 Facts About Netflix Star Justin Chien

Justin Chien as Charles Sun in The Brothers Sun

Justin Chien Honed His Craft at University

Before popping up on Netflix queues everywhere in Brother Sun, Justin Chien studied at the esteemed University of Southern California (USC). 

The Chinese-American acting star, earned a scholarship to USC's School of Dramatic Arts, where he honed his craft. 

About his time at USC, Chien told TaiwanPlus he was "in the BFA program" where he did several stage productions including "a six-hour production of The Kentucky Cycle:"

"Yeah, so I was in the BFA program and part of that program is that we had to do a play every semester and that was honestly some of the best training that I could ask for, beyond the classes that we had. So, ome of the highlights were we did a six-hour production of 'The Kentucky Cycle,' so three hours a night, two nights rotating through."

He continued, that his work on "a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream" at school was what ultimately "got [him] signed with [his] manager:"

"And then I did a version of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', where our director took a lot of creative liberties, so I was one head of a three-headed Oberon. So, there was three of us and we would each say a line and it was an interesting one. But that was the play that got me signed with my manager, so it was a great time. I don’t think I would be where I am today without that training."

"The biggest thing I learned while being at school was just to give everything" Chien posited, opining "SC is great as long as you are taking the initiative and being proactive:"

"The biggest thing I learned while being at school was just to give everything you had and to be proactive, because once you graduate, there’s not as much hand-holding as there is in school. I made myself a film minor of sorts. So I got all my GEs done early and then I took editing, cinematography, screenwriting classes, entrepreneurship in film.

And I think those things really helped prepare me for making my first few short films and those, in turn, did help me get signed as well. So, a place like USC is great as long as you are taking the initiative and being proactive with your own education."

Justin Is a Martial Arts Master

Outside of his acting venture, Justin Chien is also a practicing martial arts master. 

The five-foot-eleven Netflix star has practiced Muay Thai for the last 10 years and is a blue belt in jiu-jitsu which he has trained in for the last four. 

Speaking with Screen Rant about The Brothers Sun, Chien revealed "I have a background in Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu" which made some of the action scenes in the Netflix show a bit easier to film:

"I have a background in Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu. I’ve been doing Muay Thai for about 10 years, and jiu-jitsu for the last four, I just got my blue belt…"

And Chien having some sort of fight training helped in production, according to director Kevin Tancharoen. 

Tancharoen told Netflix's Tudum, "Justin just nailed the fighting," comparing him to John Wick star Keanu Reeves:

"Justin just nailed the fighting. He was like, ‘If you’re going to give me ninja training, I am going to be a ninja.’ I was actually shocked at how good he got, because he became a full-on martial arts expert. He fully Keanu’d this role."

In the same Tudum article, Chien called the experience of filming his first action scene "overwhelming and quite intense," but luckily he had an "awesome dance partner:"

"It was overwhelming and quite intense. But luckily, I had an awesome dance partner in Nate Andrade, who is almost 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 — he’s Thanos’ stunt double. He would fist-bump me and just reassure me. And sometimes, before a take, we would look at each other and just let out a real primal yell to get the energy going.:"

Tom Hardy Is One of Justin’s Favorite Actors

According to Justin Chien, Tom Hardy is one of his favorite actors and was a key inspiration for his performance in The Brothers Sun

Chien previously posited, "Some of my inspirations for this character were Hugh Jackman in the movie Logan," and "a lot of Tom Hardy’s performances" (via Nerds of Color):

"I remember I got goosebumps right away reading [the script]. I feel like the writers did an amazing job of of crafting an arc and a dynamic story for each one of our character. Some of my inspirations for this character were Hugh Jackman in the movie 'Logan,' a lot of Tom Hardy’s performances, this Taiwanese movie called 'A Sun,' and 'Infernal Affairs.' So a lot of those were materials that are referenced in preparing for this character."

In a conversation with Collider, the actor said the thing that drew him into his character of Charles was actually that Hardy likes to "[play] these characters that are menacing, and brutal, and ruthless, but also have a vulnerable," something he identified in Charlies:

"Also, the character of Charles was probably… you know, as an actor, you’re lucky if you get three to four auditions that resonate with you each year, and out of the hundreds of auditions that I’ve been on, this one, this role of Charles, by far, resonated with me the most, and was the one that I was most excited for. And I think it was because… well, one of my favorite actors is Tom Hardy. And I think what he does the best is he plays these characters that are menacing, and brutal, and ruthless, but also have a vulnerable side, and that’s what I find most interesting to watch as well."

So, he "felt like [he] had an opportunity to attempt to do something like that with this character:"

"So, I felt like I had an opportunity to attempt to do something like that with this character. And also, when I read this character, and I read the sides… I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that I knew that that was me. I knew that I could play that character and I knew that I was Charles. And so in a way, it gave me a sense of peace through the audition process."

This made the audition process easy for the actor as he "was so certain of how [he] wanted to do it," by giving "the performance that [he thought he] would want to watch:"

"I was so certain of how I wanted to do it, because I think part of what I did was give the performance that I think I would want to watch and not what I think the creatives wanted to see. So, all of that made this project just so tremendously special to to be a part of."

Justin Has Dabbled in Directing

While fans may be becoming familiar with Justin Chien's work as an actor, the 26-year-old has also dabbled in directing here and there. 

Prior to his work on the hit Netflix series, he helped co-direct a short titled Continuum, a project he also wrote and co-produced. 

The title tells the story of a father who attempts to revive his recently deceased daughter with a dangerous device of his own invention.

Continuum saw minor success being selected for several film festivals including the 2019 DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon.

The trailer can be seen below:

Where Can Fans Follow Justin Chien?

For those looking to keep up with Chien outside of his work on Brothers Sun, he can be followed on Instagram at @justin_chien.

The Brothers Sun is now streaming on Netflix. 

- In This Article: The Brothers Sun
Release Date
January 04, 2024
Justin Chien
Michelle Yeoh
Sam Song Li
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.