Most of the world might be hooked to the South Korean mega-hit Squid Game, but it looks like Steven Spielberg missed the memo. The Hollywood director is being severely criticized for referring to the cast of the Netflix show as "unknown people."
Apart from topping the Netflix charts worldwide, Squid Game is currently raking in several international awards. At the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Jung Ho-yeon and Lee Jung-jae took home the awards for best Female Actor in a Drama Series and best Male Actor in a Drama Series, respectively.
The cast of the dystopian show includes some of the most popular names in the Korean film and television industry, and thus Steven Spielberg's comments have left several incensed.
Steven Spielberg claimed that Squid Game had "unknown people" in the cast
The West Side Story director was part of a panel as one of the nominees for the PGA Awards Zanuck Award. While discussing the importance of having household names and movie stars in the cast of movies and TV series, Steven Spielberg brought up Squid Game.
Heaping praise on the show, he commended the Netflix drama for its success, despite having "unknown people."
Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us. A long time ago it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies. Today, it’s interesting, unknown people [who] can star [in] entire miniseries, can be in movies.
The director stated that streaming services have made it easier for lesser known actors to bag lead roles. He claimed that while casting used to revolve around big names in lead roles, now the 'star system' has changed.
While Steven Spielberg's claims hold true, the fact that he chose Squid Game as an example has drawn criticism from people across the globe, who accuse the director of being American and eurocentric.
Several netizens called out the comments for being condescending and patronizing, especially since the show's protagonist is played by none other than veteran actor Lee Jung-jae, who's had an esteemed three-decade-long career with several hits.
Other actors in the show, including Park Hae-soo and Gong Yoo, were well known in South Korea and beyond, even before the Netflix show's success. Notably, rookie actor Jung Ho-yeon had a flourishing career as an international model before her acting debut.
Several others have defended Steven Spielberg's comments, stating that they have been taken out of context. They claim the director merely meant people unknown to the American audience in particular, and not the world at large.
Incidentally, this is not the first time Western media has made controversial statements with respect to the Squid Game cast. At a recent screening of the show in California, Lee Jung-jae was asked about the biggest change in his life since starring in Squid Game. The reporter said,
“I’m sure you can’t leave the house anymore without people recognizing you. What has been the biggest life change for you since the series came out?”
Ironically, the actor has been an inextricable part of South Korean pop culture for decades now.