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Bowen Yang shares new details about his shady & gay Wicked character

Bowen Yang shares new details about his shady & gay 'Wicked' character

Bowen Yang in Wicked
Universal Pictures

The library at Shiz University better be open, because the girlies will be reading!


We do think so, honey!

Following the grand premiere of the Wicked trailer during the Super Bowl telecast, we are now learning new information about Bowen Yang’s character in the film.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, a new Las Culturistas episode dropped with Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers discussing all things pop culture. Given that the Wicked trailer had just dropped, Yang shared new details about his character, Pfannee, and the process that went into bringing him to life.

“Everyone, get ready: I’m really showing my range, I’m playing a gay guy,” Yang started. “But, you know, I’m playing a hater for the first time. He’s not just any gay guy — Pfannee is a hater. This guy SUCKS! Frankly, he’s a racist. He sees a green person and he goes, ‘I’m gonna f*cking ruin that person’s life.’”

He continued, “I will say, the discussions going into Pfannee… Jon M. Chu, god bless him, is a director, down. No small parts. He’s like, ‘Let’s sit down and talk about Pfannee and ShenShen.’ And then me and Bronwyn [James] were, ‘Absolutely!’ Ari [Ariana Grande] was there, and then the four of us talked about these people. I think we arrived at something really interesting. I can’t wait for you guys to see.”

Readers who listen to Yang’s Las Culturistas podcast but haven’t read Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West — which inspired the hit Broadway musical Wicked — are probably unfamiliar with the character of Pfannee and didn’t know what to expect.

In Maguire’s novel, Glinda (played by Ariana Grande in the film) has three main friends within her clique of popular kids at Shiz University: Pfannee (Yang), ShenShen (James), and Milla. While the latter doesn’t seem to be included in the Wicked movie, Pfannee and ShenShen are pretty similar to each other when it comes to their superiority complex and feelings of unadulterated loathing toward Elphaba. In the musical, this hatred of Elphaba among Glinda’s mostly unnamed friends is conveyed through the song, “What Is This Feeling?”

While Pfannee is female in the book, it makes complete sense that the cinematic adaptation turned the character into a gay “hater” who is best friends with Glinda. The Shiz University library better be open, because we can already see Grande and Yang throwing some major shade in there!

If it sounds like we’re excited about the Wicked movie, that’s because we are. Is it Thanksgiving yet?

Wicked: Part One opens in theaters on November 27, 2024 — and you can listen to this full episode of Las Culturistas below.

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Bernardo Sim


Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.