Steven Spielberg has garnered online backlash for calling the cast of Netflix’s popular K-drama Squid Game “unknown people”.
The legendary Hollywood director made an appearance at a PGA Awards panel on Saturday (March 19), where he spoke about the game-changing impact the hit K-drama has had on the entertainment industry and praised Netflix for its decision to cast actors that are supposedly lesser known in the West.
“Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us,” Spielberg said while gesturing towards Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, who was in the audience, according to Deadline. “Thank you, Ted [Sarandos].”
Spielberg’s statement came while the panel were discussing whether it was important to cast well-known actors in lead roles for projects to succeed, during which the director also credited the streaming platform for supposedly opening the doors for lesser-known actors to star in shows.
“A long time ago it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies,” Spielberg added. “Today, it’s interesting, unknown people can star [in] entire miniseries [and] can be in movies.”
However, Spielberg’s comments about the cast of Squid Game have since received criticism from viewers of the viral Netflix hit. On Twitter, more than 3,500 users have shared an IndieWire article about the director’s comments, with many pointing out that most of the Squid Game cast members have long been well-known throughout Asia.
Correction: “Squid Game” proves that Hollywood has been waaayyyyyy behind in recognizing and celebrating longstanding S. Korean Film/TV storytelling and talent. https://t.co/G2J36f9cbc
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) March 23, 2022
"Unknown." To people who only watch American entertainment, I guess… https://t.co/HwiRMvOYOg
— Jae-Ha Kim 김재하 (@GoAwayWithJae) March 23, 2022
it's not like they're unknown, it's you who aren't exploring asian movies/dramas, like.. when lee byunghun appears I GASPED and lee jungjae has been a household name since the 90s. ppl really think the world revolves around hollywood https://t.co/HujkQqBOex
— Paula🪐 (@syjungies) March 22, 2022
Notably, Squid Game lead Lee Jung-jae is one of the “most bankable celebrities” in South Korea, according to Esquire, and has starred in critically acclaimed movies such as 2010’s The Housemaid. Meanwhile, Gong Yoo, who appeared in two episodes of the K-drama, was the star of 2016’s Train To Busan.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed that Squid Game would return earlier this year, saying in the streaming giant’s latest quarterly earning call that a second season was fast-tracked into development. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk had first confirmed that he would return for season two last November, alongside several hints at the potential direction it would head in.