Squid Game star reveals “greatest change” after Netflix show’s success

Gabriela Silva
Lee Jung-jae in The Acolyte as Sol.

Lee Jung-jae may have been a household name in South Korea for decades, but the actor gained recognition for Squid Game that’s skyrocketed him into global fame.

When people think about K-dramas, Squid Game is at the top of the list. The series enthralled the masses, including people who had never seen a Korean series before. Lee Jung-jae was praised for his role as Seong Gi-hun, which led to winning the Emmy for Outstanding Actor.

Lee achieved something few Korean actors have been able to: recognition by American Hollywood. Now starring in The Acolyte, he reveals just how much things have changed for him.

“The greatest change after Squid Game was that I was able to get these huge offers. Being a part of the Star Wars franchise is something I really couldn’t even imagine beforehand, and I thought it was very unbelievable. I actually didn’t know that I’d have such a big part within The Acolyte because English is not my first language,” said the actor to GQ.

“By no means did I expect to have such an important role in the show with so many emotional lines and such a great character arc. I actually asked Leslye [Headland] why she gave me such a big role. I told her ‘I thought you’d just give me a lightsaber and I’d swing it around a couple times.’ I felt extremely thankful for her and I wanted to return this feeling by being able to perform very well as Master Sol.”

The Acolyte has Star Wars and non-Star Wars fans excited for a new chapter of the beloved franchise. Lee’s inclusion in the leading role of Sol was the talk of the town, thanks to Squid Game.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee said, “I was actually quite surprised when Leslye [Headland] said that she saw Master Sol from my acting in Squid Game, because I feel like the two characters are so different. So I was very curious about what made her feel that way.”

While many get to see Lee in action and his ability to take on the Star Wars universe, he’s been a well-recognized actor for years. He began acting as early as 1993 and gained recognition for popular movies like City of the Rising Sun, Deliver Us From Evil, and The Housemaid.

For many K-drama fans, Squid Game was another out-of-the-box storyline they were excited for. No one, not even Lee, could have guessed the level of attention it received.

Squid Game is now in the process of developing a Season 2 with Lee returning to his original character.

The Acolyte is streaming on Disney+. You can read why fans think Sol will die in the series, our review, and who Osha is.