He’s best known for his role as Kimchee Han on the hit TV comedy series, Kim’s Convenience. But now, he’s the lead star of CBC’s new sitcom, Run the Burbs. While acting is Andrew Phung’s first passion, he also loves cars. The award-winning actor and comedian drives a 2016 Lexus IS 250; his wife drives a 2016 Lexus RX 350 SUV.
Petrina Gentile: What sparked your interest in cars?
Andrew Phung: I grew up a car kid. If we go through my cars over the years, I know them by heart because, for me, getting AutoTrader was a weekly thing that my dad and I would do as a kid. I would buy AutoTrader to see the deals. It was $2.95 at 711. My dad was always buying, selling, and flipping cars. For him, it was this dream of being able to afford a car. He would drive it for six months and then flip it. So we always had new cars revolving in our life. It became a thing for me. When you’re 16 and get your licence it was a big deal.
PG: Growing up, what cars did your dad have?
AP: Coming from Vietnam, an immigrant to Canada, my dad has always loved high-end cars. He had a beautiful 7 Series BMW, an entry-level Mercedes – all used from the ’80s. He had a 1979 Porsche 911 that he fixed up – it wasn’t a great car. It was real rough. Then my dad bought this 12-cylinder Jaguar convertible. It was always broken. That was the lemon. And then he bought an H2 Hummer in 2004–2005. He’s driven it into the ground. Last year, he picks me up in Calgary. He had to go into the back seat to open the front door. The door handle broke and they don’t make the part anymore. So I bought the part for him on eBay for 60 bucks and he got mad at me! Then he tells me, ‘Son, I bought a new car – I put down a deposit on a Hummer!’ He loves something that is different on the road – that’s definitely going to do it.”
PG: What about you – what cars have you owned?
AP: What I wanted was a 1991 CRX, but I couldn’t find one with low miles. Those Hondas were driven to the end of the earth and back. I was working at Bootlegger at the mall and I ended up buying a 1993 Honda del Sol with the targa top and a big spoiler. That car was impractical because there were only two seats. So then I got a 1992 Eagle Talon TSi AWD – perfect for winter.
PG: With a turbo engine?!
AP: Yeah. Giving a kid a turbo engine – not a great idea. I kept spinning out in that thing because I have a heavy foot. So I went from the Talon to a 1999 Honda Civic SiR – this is when they made it a two-door coupe. Loved it. In the winters I would park the car and I bought a beater Chevy SUV for getting to university. When I graduated, the Civic went away and I bought a brand-new 2005 Mini Cooper S, fully customized in electric blue. It was my baby. Let me tell you, a Mini Cooper with winter tires in Calgary is like a fat kid in the snow. You can’t knock that kid over. It was low to the ground. I would never slip out. I always got traction. It was a beast.
PG: That’s expensive – how did you afford it?
AP: I got a job right away after university. I started running the Calgary Sport and Social Club and that was the first thing I bought.
PG: Why did you decide to buy a Lexus IS?
AP: I bought the IS because we love the RX 350 and I needed a personal vehicle that’s small but still has some cargo space. And I always wanted a sports sedan.
PG: What does a Lexus IS say about you?
AP: I like it classy. I like it VIP. I’ve always enjoyed the touches and finishes of Lexus. There’s the IS 250, IS 300, and IS 350, but I think the IS 250 is more than enough muscle for me. You put that thing in sport mode and it is a dream.
PG: Does it have the personality of an actor – does it like the limelight?
AP: The personality of an actor is a Subaru WRX. But what I’ve learned about myself as an actor – on screen, I’m loud and have a big personality, but when I’m not on-camera, in my private life, I’ve got to reserve that energy. I like getting into this car and relaxing and chilling.
PG: What would your characters on Kim’s Convenience, Kimchee Han – who was Jung Kim, Simu Liu’s right-hand man – and Andrew Pham on Run the Burbs drive?
AP: Kimchee – a tinted ’99 Honda Civic, Honda del Sol, or a souped-up Integra make sense. And for Andrew Pham in Run the Burbs, the Toyota Sienna minivan is the dream. I get it, when you’re a dad and parent and your priority is family, kids, and storage space, it makes sense. In this season, my daughter is turning 16 and it’s fun. I remember that moment being 16 and my uncle teaching me to drive a stick. I think it was on a Geo – it was a car used to deliver pizzas. It was so basic and he said if you can drive this car, you can drive any car. I’m going to teach my kids on a really rough car – not the IS. I’m going to try and track down a $500 Honda Civic no-frills car.
PG: If I can bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
AP: I really want Lexus to pony up and announce their new TX three-row model – the replacement to the RXL, because we’d love that third row. I also want them to make an electric IS sports sedan.
About Andrew Phung
Actor and comedian
2016 Lexus IS 250 and 2016 Lexus RX 350 SUV
- Multiple award-winning actor whose work, alongside Simu Liu, on Kim’s Convenience earned him four Canadian Screen Awards (2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021) for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
- Recent television and film credits include The Beaverton, Events Transpiring, Wynonna Earp, and the factual series The Canadian Improv Games, where he served as the host, and won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Host – Digital Series.
- CBC Radio regular contributor on Now or Never, The Debaters, and Because News.
- Currently stars as Andrew Pham in Run the Burbs, the series he created with Scott Townend
Season 2 of Run the Burbs airs Wednesdays at 8:30 pm ET on CBC TV and CBC Gem.