‘Past Lives’ star Teo Yoo wore turtle pin at Oscars for late pet: ‘In tears’ for days

He’s still shell-shocked.

Teo Yoo, who starred in the Best Picture nominee “Past Lives,” wore a turtle pin to the 2024 Oscars in memory of his pet tortoise that died in August 2023.

“OK, so my pet tortoise passed away last year and I had him for 10 years,” Yoo, 42, explained to a Variety reporter on the Los Angeles red carpet Sunday.

In the video, the South Korean actor revealed that he named his reptile Momo after a children’s fantasy novel of the same name written by German author Michael Ende. The novel was published in 1973.

Teo Yoo, who starred in the Best Picture nominee “Past Lives,” revealed that he wore a turtle pin to the 2024 Oscars on Sunday in memory of his pet tortoise who died in August 2023. Sarah Morris/WireImage
Teo Yoo, who starred in the Best Picture nominee “Past Lives,” revealed that he wore a turtle pin to the 2024 Oscars on Sunday in memory of his pet tortoise who died in August 2023. Sarah Morris/WireImage
The South Korean actor revealed that he had named his reptile friend Momo after a children’s fantasy novel of the same name written by German author Michael Ende, which was published in 1973. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram
The South Korean actor revealed that he had named his reptile friend Momo after a children’s fantasy novel of the same name written by German author Michael Ende, which was published in 1973. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram

Yoo, who was born in Germany, joked that his fan club back home named themselves “Momos” after the turtle.

“I’m gonna grieve for a while,” the actor told Variety, adding that he was “in tears for about three days” after his pet’s death.

“I was so dramatic,” Yoo added.

“You’re not dramatic, it’s like your child,” quipped the reporter.

According to the actor, he cried for three days after his pet died. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
According to the actor, he cried for three days after his pet died. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
According to the turtle’s Instagram, it was adopted by the “Seoul Searching” actor in 2013 and was a leopard tortoise. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram
According to the turtle’s Instagram, it was adopted by the “Seoul Searching” actor in 2013 and was a leopard tortoise. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram

“You know, it’s like that moment you have with your pet where you’re like, ‘Oh my god. Life is over,'” Yoo went on. “And then you remove yourself at the same time as an actor and you look at the situation and you think, ‘Oh my god, this is so dramatic and comical.'”

According to the turtle’s Instagram, it was adopted by the “Seoul Searching” actor in 2013 and was a leopard tortoise.

Spruce Pets, a website dedicated to the needs of all potential pets, notes that the specific species is native to South Africa, Ethiopia, and Somalia and is “one of the largest tortoises.”

“Past Lives,” which was up for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, failed to win both awards, which were won by Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Justine Triet and Arthur Harari’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” respectively. Courtesy Everett Collection
“Past Lives,” which was up for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, failed to win both awards, which were won by Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Justine Triet and Arthur Harari’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” respectively. Courtesy Everett Collection
Yoo’s reptile friend sadly passed away in August 2023. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram
Yoo’s reptile friend sadly passed away in August 2023. Momo the Leopard Tortoise/Instagram

The site warns that those looking to get the animal have several factors to consider.

“They’re not ideal for novice owners as they are somewhat high-maintenance compared to other tortoises,” the site states. “They need a large living space, protection from cool temperatures, and a varied, nutritious diet.”

Variety’s video drew several positive comments for the actor.

“I didn’t think I could like him more than I did before seeing this,” one fan remarked. “It is only a coincidence, but my dog is named Momo.”

“There’s nothing dramatic about losing a family member,” a second person wrote.

“I liked him before but really like him now,” a third person chimed in.

Yoo’s film, which was up for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, failed to win both awards at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday. Instead, the gold statues went to Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Justine Triet and Arthur Harari’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” respectively.