Last fall, Squid Game took the world by storm, becoming Netflix’s greatest hit of all time with 2.1 Billion streaming hours amassed since its release. In 2022, the buzz surrounding the show has hardly died down, continuing to dominate pop culture discussion (and award season).
One cast member who made history for his unforgettable role in the compelling series is Oh Young-soo. At the beginning of the year, Young-soo became the first South Korean actor to win a Golden Globe. However, this is far from his first acting accolade. The 77-year-old actor has had a long and versatile career, including extensive theater experience.
With the 2022 Emmy’s right around the corner (Young-soo is nominated), let’s explore the seasoned actor’s recent reflections on his villainous role. Plus, some exciting hints about more high-stakes drama and action to come in Season 2!
Playing The Villain
Much of the success of Squid Game‘s killer plot twist rested on Young-soo’s performance as Oh Il-Nam. And boy did he have us all fooled! The duplicity and range of his character is something that Young-soo took to heart when embodying him on screen. In an exclusive interview with DiscussingFilm, the actor talked about how his character’s duplicity actually made him easier to bring to life.
If I was asked to convey him in a consistent manner, I think that would have been difficult, but because he has so many different facets and sides to him, you know, sometimes I portray him as an old man who has dementia. Sometimes I portray him as someone who has a stroke, or someone who could be evil. So because of this diversity, that actually made my job easier.Oh Young-soo for DiscussingFilm interview
Young-soo’s response here raises a very important question: is Oh Il-nam truly a villain? I, like many viewers, spent most of the series cursing Sang-woo’s character for all his treachery instead. Such is the beauty of Squid Game; its gritty depictions of humanity make it hard to abide by traditional categories of hero and villain.
Befittingly, the actor’s position on his performance rests on the idea that everyone has good and evil inside of them. Il-nam is no different, operating in this gray area, with a character complexity that makes his villainous twist so memorable.
In general, Squid Game brilliantly played with viewers’ heartstrings throughout the series. Between Il-nam’s admitted terminal illness to his bond with Gi-hun (the “Gganbu” episode made me sob), we spend most of the series feeling nothing but care for the seemingly harmless old man.
Upon discovering that he was the antagonist hidden in plain sight, Oh Il-nam becomes a much more convoluted figure. In Young-soo’s words, he was one part evil mastermind but also had “another side of him that rooted for the goodness in people.” No matter what angle one wishes to take, he is certainly one of the most impactful television antagonists of all time.
Squid Game Season 2
Though Netflix has released small teaser clips and updates on their social media platforms, there still remains much mystery about what fans are to expect in season two of this global phenomenon. Therefore, Oh Young-soo’s input on what to expect from the show’s creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, is golden information to anxious fans. He comments about the games in store:
I don’t think he would have invented new games [for the upcoming season]. I think he would have gotten some new games from his childhood and he actually told me that he has some that are more dramatic. So I’m looking forward to it.Oh Young-soo for DiscussingFilm interview
Games even more dramatic than before?! Sounds like the Squid Game creator plans to go bigger and better in the next installment. Until then, I, like fans all over the whole world, will wait expectantly, looking forward to more epic action and searing drama.
In all, it’s truly exciting to ponder how broad Squid Game‘s reach has been in uniting an international fan base. As Young-soo beautifully sums regarding the growth of Korean representation in global media: “I hope we can go forward and exchange our cultures back and forth and share everything together. The world is one, right? We are one altogether. I hope the whole world can come together and enjoy everything together.”
For more pop culture news and discussion at Bookstr, please click here.