Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae has revealed that the violence in his directorial debut Hunt is toned down compared to the real-life events that inspired it.


Although the film is fictional, it takes inspiration from political events and figures that Lee experienced while growing up in 1970s Seoul – including protests around the presidency of Park Chung-hee and his subsequent assassination in 1979.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Lee discussed how he went about translating the brutality and violence of this period onto the big screen.

"What I experienced and witnessed myself and also the research that I did whilst writing the script was way more violent than what you see on screen," he said.

"I needed to show just how violent it was but also leave a very strong impact in a short amount of time, so striking that balance was important."

Striking a balance was also important when it came to sorting fact from fiction in the film, and Lee explained that he kept thinking about how "movies are not documentaries".

"Although I do deal with actual events in history that happened, I coupled that with something we hoped would happen," the actor explained.

"Trying to maintain a balance of the two was really important to do because I had to deal with actual events that happened and then the thought that we would like to see a more hopeful future."

While writing the script for Hunt, Lee was always focused on crafting a plot following two completely different men with separate goals and ideologies but the same target, but the specifics of the story changed many times throughout the creative process.

Eventually, it took shape as a spy action drama centring on two agents of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency who are tasked with finding a mole within, while also learning of a grand plot to assassinate the South Korean president.

For Lee – who is an award-winning actor with nearly 30 years in the industry – one of the biggest challenges as a writer/director was figuring out how best to captivate the audience.

"There are different ways that I used to make people focus and in some cases it was the action, sometimes it was the lines being spoken and sometimes it was the twist in the plot," he revealed.

"Taking all of these things and making sure that the story proceeds at a certain tempo or speed and trying to figure out the best way to do that and to arrange the composition, speed and balance of everything was very difficult."

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Playing the lead role in a movie he was directing also brought its own challenges, with Lee explaining: "It made me much more critical of my performance and I wanted to have more takes but I couldn’t because I had to keep things rolling."

The movie also stars another Squid Game alum, Heo Sung-tae, who played gangster Jang Deok-su in the hit Netflix series.

On reuniting with his former co-star, Lee said: "Heo Sung-tae is an amazing actor, very well known and well acknowledged in Korea. What is surprising is that despite his looks, he is actually very cute. He is a lovely guy so I thoroughly enjoyed working with him again."

Lee rose to instant worldwide fame following his lead role in Squid Game last year, with the show becoming the most-watched series in Netflix history with an astounding 1.65 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days.

Squid Game
Squid Game. Netflix

The show was also critically acclaimed, with Lee winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series – something which slightly took him aback.

"It was really surprising because it is not in English and to win an award within the US for something not in English was completely unthinkable, it was way beyond what I could have imagined," he said.

"Of course because the script was so good I did expect that it would reach a certain level of success but not to this extent."

Undoubtedly, fans will be excited for the second season and to provide an update, Lee revealed: "I did hear that we would start shooting somewhere around autumn next year but I’m not sure when you’d be able to see the finished content."

Lee will also be starring in the upcoming Star Wars series The Acolyte alongside Amandla Stenberg and Jodie Turner-Smith, and although the actor was tight-lipped about the show, he revealed that details will be coming shortly that fans can look forward to.

Hunt is in cinemas and available on Altitude.Film from Friday 4th November. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Film hub for the latest news.


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