Most Emmy nominees begin their day vivid and early with the excellent news. But, as a lamp burned brightly within the background of the video name from his dwelling at round 1:30 a.m. in South Korea, Lee Jung-jae had saved probably the most dramatic a part of his day for final.
That’s additionally true of “Squid Game,” the Korean survival drama that grew to become a world phenomenon when it premiered on Netflix in September. Lee, 49, was nominated for his first Emmy Award for his position as Seong Gi-hun, the playing addict and protagonist of the candy-coated horror collection a few event of childhood video games performed to the demise.
His nomination, for finest lead actor in a drama, was one in all 14 “Squid Game” picked up on Tuesday, when it made historical past by turning into the primary non-English language collection to earn an impressive drama collection nomination. (It was Netflix’s most watched collection ever, based on the streamer.)
The collection’s shocking success catapulted Lee, who is taken into account one of the crucial profitable actors in South Korea, to international prominence, and earned him Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. (He gained the SAG Award, for excellent efficiency by a male actor in a drama.) Lee started his profession as a mannequin earlier than starring in plenty of hit Korean movies, together with the erotic thriller “The Housemaid” and the gangster drama “Deliver Us From Evil.” His directorial debut, the espionage thriller “Hunt,” which he’s additionally producing, is slated to be launched in South Korea subsequent month.
In an interview performed with the help of a translator, Lee mentioned the collection’s shocking success, why he thinks it has resonated worldwide and his hopes for Season 2. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.
Good — very early — morning! How has your life modified since being on principally the largest present on the planet?
It’s not that my life has dramatically modified, however I’m feeling very excited and pleased that “Squid Game” is receiving a lot love and help, and that so many extra audiences now know who I’m.
Did you ever anticipate it to get this huge?
No, no, by no means. The director did point out that he would need the present to get standard within the United States, however we by no means imagined that it will blow up this huge worldwide.
The present is a selected critique of capitalism and inequity in South Korea. Why do you assume it has resonated globally?
It offers with the problem of this rising international pattern of the widening hole between the wealthy and the poor, and this phenomenon is just not distinctive to Korea — it’s one thing that the worldwide neighborhood goes via collectively.
Did you grow to be desensitized to the violence because the collection went on, or was it nonetheless a shock to be immersed in throughout each episode?
The present is much less in regards to the bodily violence, however extra in regards to the psychological violence the place persons are making an attempt to deceive one another. The visible violence that appeared once in a while was solely used to accentuate that battle. While I used to be filming, I attempted to focus extra on that poignant facet of the psychological facet of why individuals have been pitted in opposition to one another, after they have been very shut to one another as buddies.
Your character chooses to proceed with the sport to the top, regardless of realizing that doing so would require abandoning his morals. If you have been in his circumstances, would you make the identical alternative?
It takes quite a lot of braveness to step inside that brutal sport as soon as once more, so I would hesitate for a second. Then once more, after I take into consideration how many individuals could be sacrificed if that sport continues, I feel I’d make that very same option to go in as soon as once more simply to cease them.
Netflix not too long ago introduced that the present had been renewed for a second season. Do you could have any particular hopes for Seong Gi-hun?
When I used to be studying the script for Season 1, there have been so many twists within the plot that it was arduous to anticipate the place the story was headed. I’m trying ahead to one thing comparable for Season 2. I’m dying to know what occurs to my character, however I’m making an attempt to not ask the director any questions as a result of it’s higher to not have any heads-up so I can painting it intensely.