‘Squid Game’ Star Lee Jung-Jae Talks Star Wars and His New Film ‘Hunt’

Lee Jung-jae has long been one of South Korea’s most successful actors. He has appeared in comedies, romances, action films, crime thrillers and period pieces. Avant-garde fans will lose it knowing that he even starred in the only Asian Dogme 95 movie he’s ever had. Interview (2000) He is nothing if not versatile.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Lee has won several domestic awards. But it’s a Korean series Squid game, It broke records on Netflix and became a global phenomenon, leading to international recognition for Lee. In celebration of his work on the satirical horror survival thriller series, the actor received a Primetime Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among other accolades, as a global audience woke up to his talents in America.

But Lee is not just a formidable actor. He turned his hand to directing, taking on a more ambitious debut in the format hunting, an action spy thriller and something of an ambitious project, for which the film’s director and star recently received an honorary award at the 2022 London East Asia Film Festival. Is there nothing Lee can’t do? He is even set to star in a new Star Wars series in his first American role. Acolyte Land due next summer.

Most Viewed ‘Andor’

Lee Jung-jae (left) in a scene from Hunt, the spy thriller he directed and starred in.

We chat today ahead of the release hunting And details about the same time Acolyte Currently thin on the ground (“I think they’ll release something soon,” Lee says), we know the Disney+ series is set for the final days. High Republican era And will focus on the appearance of the dark side. Sounds hoarse. Whose movie is the most relevant thing for Lee? hunting Star Wars has a lot in common with the gritty nature of the spy thriller series, AndorCurrently in its 12-episode first season on Disney+, it’s doing well and enjoying rave reviews.

“I’m still waiting for all the episodes to come out so I can watch it more,” says Lee. “From what I know, Andor Star Wars uses the world, or rather the universe it belongs to, but at the same time, it takes on a completely different genre. So I have high expectations for this series. I think, a few years ago, Star Wars [franchise] is developing. It’s moving from family-oriented films to a more specific genre, so I think it’s going to be really interesting.

Pressure from ‘The Acolyte’

A line of inquiry from Hunt.
An Interrogative Sequence from Hunt: Lee proves his mettle for The Acolyte in a gritty drama that makes sense.

Just like that hunting A daunting task for a first-time director, he stars in Inception, Lee’s first American project in the biggest and most formidable arena you can name: the Star Wars universe.

“I’m really looking forward to it because the Star Wars movies have such a significant place in cinematic history,” says Lee. “The Star Wars movies were responsible for growth and progress in many areas; basically All Parts of Filmmaking. Its History. I look forward to working [The Acolyte] And since there are high expectations for it, I will also try to prepare well enough to match it. [those expectations].”

There is the first hint that Lee might be nervous.

“The pressure is there,” he admits. “I’m feeling pressure because it’s loved by so many fans around the world. Some of these fans are really hardcore, so I’m worried that there’s something missing and I might let them down in some way. [on my part]Maybe.”

On the topic of whether he gets a chance to use a lightsaber, he would only say, “We’ll wait and see.” Like everyone else, he will admit that he played with one as a child.

About running? Now he’s got it hunting With that under his belt, I feel like he’d be well-suited to direct an episode Acolyte.

“As far as I know, it’s already set up. They have somebody,” he says. “It’s all covered up.” I have no plans or desire to direct anything [episodes] At this time.” director on board Acolyte There is Russian dollLeslie Headland will also serve as writer and showrunner, so it’s in good hands.

The hunt is on

The hunt is fast paced and full of action and intrigue.

But again huntingBecause Lee shows incredible talent and confidence as a director in his complex and fast-paced spy drama based on a real-life era of political turmoil in Korea.

Andor, like the espionage fare, starts off as a slow burn — great — but it’s the deftly executed fast-paced and tense heist episode that has fans talking. Lee shows awareness of his audience when he says he wants to lean into that pace.

“Because of my age, I’ve seen my share of spy movies,” says Lee. “Once I started working on this film, I thought, ‘If I do that,’ [typical slow] Tempo, will the audience like it? So I picked up the pace and finished; I did action scenes and did it very fast.

hunting It was a box office hit in South Korea in August this year. Set during South Korea’s political turmoil in the 1980s, Lee plays an intelligence chief tasked with rooting out a mole who finds himself going head-to-head with a rival agent to foil a plot to assassinate the president. with comparisons Infernal affairs, RaidAnd Heat, hunting Channeling the tension and energy of recent Korean cinema hits Train to Busan And Parasite. But Lee says he didn’t watch any specific movies in preparation for the film. Instead, he turned to international news for inspiration.

Fake news and creating credibility

Lee wanted to make sure the audience understood the political background and themes, while also entertaining them.

“Because this film is about personal beliefs, I don’t really watch other films,” says Lee. “What I did was I watched a lot of news from different countries like the US, countries in Europe and China and Japan. I realized that when the presidential election happens in every country, all of a sudden there’s a lot of fake news coming out. And that fake news makes the average person, the public, unhealthy. I mean. , it makes their beliefs very unhealthy, so I decided on a theme about beliefs.

He continues, “My film deals with what happened in Korea in the 80s and the political and geopolitical situation between North and South Korea. This is a situation unique to both Koreas, and I wanted to make sure that people outside of Korea could understand the situation properly. I also wanted to say exactly what I wanted to say about the situation. So I referenced a lot of news articles and actual events rather than watching other films.

Lee says the most challenging aspect of the entire production is making sure outsiders understand the nuances he’s trying to convey.

“Overall, the main thing we focused on was, how do we make this easier to digest?” He says.

A soft plan?

One thing that viewers cannot easily digest is the prevalence of torture scenes. They are very powerful, and Lee takes great pains to mention the beliefs, but they are not easy to see. Multiple rows in Squid game You can’t call it seeing the light.

On that note, Season 2’s Squid game is currently in production, so I’m asking for an update on what creator-director Hwang Dong-hyuk has said in interviews that Lee’s character Seong Ji-hun — better known as Player 456 — will be a man seeking revenge in the next installment.

“I wanted to read the script and make up my mind about what the character was thinking and what the character was going to do,” says Lee. “But unfortunately, the director leaks information to reporters, so I take some information from the articles. My character becomes darker and I know that he is going to take revenge. I got it all through the articles.

After the bloody scenes Squid game and violence huntingAssuming there’s no plan, it’s natural to wonder if Lee would be interested in tackling something a little softer. Acolyte, of course. He cites a series called Chief StaffHe worked on two projects before taking over Squid game As a “soft” job.

“It’s like the Korean version House of cards,” he says.

Soft? Really? Since he didn’t cite the show we all look forward to, maybe we are one In fact A dark and gritty new Star Wars project AcolyteThen…

hunting In theaters and available on Altitude. The film hits theaters in the UK on November 4, 2022 and in the US on December 2, 2022.

We spoke with anime icon Naoko Yamada about her new film Garden of Remembrance And Kyoto switches from animation to science fiction. Check it out below.

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