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Cannes, the ‘Squid Game’ star explores new fame

Cannes, the ‘Squid Game’ star explores new fame

Cannes, the ‘Squid Game’ star explores new fame
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Lee Jung-jae, the star of “Squid Game” and a seasoned South Korean actor, has made his directorial debut with “Hunt,” which premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival’s Midnight Screenings section.

“Hunt,” an action-packed espionage thriller set in the early 1980s, follows two Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) officers who have vastly different approaches to safeguarding the country.

Lee also stars in one of the two principal characters in the film, which he wrote and directed. Jung Woo-sung, Lee’s lifelong friend and business colleague, plays the second protagonist. In 1999’s “City of the Rising Sun,” Lee and Jung collaborated for the first time.

The principal actor of “The Squid Game” is attending the Cannes Film Festival for the second time. In 2010, he appeared in Im Sang-“The soo’s Housemaid” as the male protagonist. The film was a finalist for the Palme d’Or.

Despite being set 40 years ago, “Hunt” is still relevant today. Lee maintains that this isn’t a coincidence, “The contemporary relevance of the story was, of course, in my mind when I wrote and directed Hunt,” he says.

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“When I bought the rights for the original screenplay, it had a different subject matter and spin,” says the actor-turned-director. “The character played by Jung was much smaller and the focus was solely on the role (of Park Pyong-ho) that I play,” he says.

“I decided to work on it. In the times that we live in there is so much fake information going around and I wanted to weave that into the film. I retained the 1980s setting because that was a period in which not only Korea but also many other countries saw information being routinely manipulated by those in power.”

“This,” says Lee, “happens now as well. So, we have to question ourselves: will we allow all the misinformation to shape our values? Once I decided what ‘Hunt’ will be about, I developed the parallel character of Kim Jung-do (played by Jung) as a person with his own values and convictions. He is a man with a strong will to right what he thinks is wrong. That is how ‘Hunt’ became a two-character story.”

Lee acknowledges that writing, directing, and performing in a film is no easy task.

“Initially, I only wanted to produce ‘Hunt’. I did not think about writing and directing it. I took on those responsibilities because I could not find the right director and scriptwriter.”

Lee realised he had to put on the director’s hat once the plot was established,”I felt I was the best person to helm the project, but writing a screenplay takes a lot out of you. So, I am not confident that I will be writing and directing another one soon.”

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