“Squid Game” star Lee Jung-jae’s transformative journey for a 2015 film has surfaced online, revealing a grueling method acting approach that involved a 33-pound weight loss and 48 sleepless hours.
Background: Prior to stepping into the global spotlight for his role as Seong Gi-hun in “Squid Game,” Lee was already a well-known actor in South Korea, celebrated for his leading roles in films like “Il Mare” (2000), “The Housemaid” (2010) and “The Thieves” (2012).
His role as the main protagonist of Netflix’s hit survival drama is transformative in itself as he was cast by series creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk to destroy the charismatic image portrayed in his previous roles.
Intense method acting: In the 2015 film “Assassination,” the actor embraced an intense form of method acting and undertook a remarkable physical transformation to play the same character in two time periods.
Lee revealed in an interview with Star News in 2015 that prior to filming, he dropped his weight from 172 to 139 pounds, which was the same weight he had in middle school. He said the extreme sudden weight loss took a physical toll on him, resulting in hair loss.
Enduring a physical toll: Set against the backdrop of an assassination plot in the 1930s, “Assassination” explored Korea’s resistance against Japan’s colonial rule. Lee, who played a character from his 20s to his 60s, stated that the weight loss was necessary to convincingly embody the role of a man several decades older.
He was able to achieve this by consuming only vegetables and opting for soda during beer sessions with the crew. In a bid to fully embody his character, Lee went to extraordinary lengths, including enduring 48 hours without sleep before certain scenes. By doing so, he was able to immerse himself into the fragile state of mind demanded by the role.