Most actors would be pretty proud if they starred in a show that’s often described as one of the best TV series in recent years but not Lee Jung-jae. Lee, who plays the lead in the hit Netflix series Squid Game, however, has said that the show’s popularity and success have made him rethink how he approaches his work and, indeed, the world.
“I’m happy about it, of course, but it’s bittersweet,” he told The Guardian. “Yes, it’s great that audiences are consuming Korean content around the world. And they appreciate it. But if you think about the themes of Squid Game – how far are we willing to go to accumulate personal wealth; the lengths people are forced to go to – the fact it resonated with so many around the world is worrying. You get a sense this is the reality for so many people globally. And that makes me feel hugely sad.”
During the same interview, Lee admitted that the success of the drama series has also changed his personal life. “I do think about what happened in that show,” he explained. “It’s impossible not to. And it made me think about what I’m not doing. Many of us live obliviously. It made me rethink how I look at the world. It couldn’t not.”
This isn’t some solipsistic existential crisis, though. If anything, it seems to excite Lee, who said that he believes the success of Squid Game helped him realise that different cultures around the world do understand each other, and in his words, “we’ve realised that in art and culture, language needn’t be the first priority.”
Lee is currently working on the upcoming Star Wars series The Acolyte, alongside Carrie-Anne Moss, before moving on to Squid Game season 2. If you love great sci-fi series, check out our guide to Manifest season 4, part 2, or if you prefer your storytelling a bit more fantastical, we have an article all about House of the Dragon season 2.