As the creator behind the global phenomenon squid gameHwang Dong-hyuk is having a great year (or decade, if you count when he came up with this story). Netflix released the Korean thriller on September 17, two days before the 2021 Emmy Awards, to give you a taste of what everyone has come to expect from the show as an award nominee. But after the series became an instant global sensation, Hwang and his cast and crew kicked off the campaign with nominations and awards from organizations like the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes, on their way to making history like the first did not. — a non-English-language western production that won major Emmy nominations, including best drama and best actor, for a total of 14. Along the way, Hwang — who received individual nominations for directing and screenplay — was also furiously preparing. A second season (which Netflix ordered as soon as the show began airing). Speak THR, With the help of an interpreter, on how he handles it all.
The Emmy nominations were announced after midnight in Korea. When and how did you hear the good news?
It was around 12:30 in the morning and I was watching it live from Jeju Island in the south of the peninsula, where I was writing the script for the second season. While I was really looking forward to hearing about the nominations, I was very nervous about not being nominated.
Of the 14 nominations the show has received, is there one in particular that you are particularly proud of?
Of course, I’m proud of the 14 nominations, but if I had to pick one, I would definitely say [Park] Hae-Soo for Supporting Actor. He’s been campaigning with us for a long time, but this is the first time he’s received a solo nomination. I was delighted that such a prestigious awards organization recognized your hard work.
Are there words to describe how it feels to receive these nominations, whether it’s Netflix’s most nominated show this year or the historic nature of this recognition?
It’s a long journey squid game It was like a dream. Nobody wanted to do that in 2009 when I first wrote the script and there were no investors, but now we have 14 Emmy nominations, which is the most prestigious award in the United States, and I’m also nominated to write. leader. For me, it’s more dramatic than that. [protagonist] Gi-hoon won the squid game. It’s like a miracle.
Perhaps only one person knows how you feel: Bong Joon Ho, who also made history by winning an Oscar. parasite. Have you ever talked about what that experience is like?
In fact, I met Director Bong several times and received advice from him. He told me how exhausting the Oscar campaign process was. He was really sick at the time, he thinks it might have been COVID, but he had to do the whole campaign. Director Bong was gearing up for his next project and told me that working on the script and stepping away from the Oscar campaign was how he healed. He told me, “You heal by preparing yourself for what comes next. [project].”
How relevant do you think it is? squid gameHave your themes changed since you conceived the idea in 2009?
Ten years ago, when I showed the script, a lot of people told me that while it was creative and original, it wasn’t realistic. Now, I don’t think many people think I’m exaggerating this story. This is the biggest difference. Now there’s so much inflation and with the war, the poor are getting poorer because interest rates are higher, their debt is harder to pay and gas prices are so high. Ten years ago, people thought that no one would join the squid game, but now people might want to because it’s so hard to do.
In fact, Netflix literally does squid game A reality show (minus the fatal bets, of course). What conversations did you have with the creators of this series?
The creators try to stay true to the show, so they ask us for diagrams for the set or outfit to make sure it really looks like the real thing. squid game.
Given your program’s criticism of socioeconomic inequality, how do you feel about all these different business opportunities that have come up? squid gamebig success?
I think this show is sort of a critique of capitalism, but let’s say Gi-hoon represents 90% of all people, leaving out the 10% who are really rich. Try asking, “Is this world fair to 90% of us? And if it is not fair, who makes this world unfair and who benefits from the injustice we are witnessing? I wanted to make this show so people would realize that the world is unfair and wonder why and where we can start to make a difference. I’m not trying to say that capitalism per se is bad, I just wanted to ask this question about what we can do to make our system more just.
The reason for creating the show was to get that message across, but at the same time, I also wanted to succeed; I wanted to make money. I think it’s normal to have this business around. squid gameBecause we live in a capitalist society. There is a lot of investment in this show and the motive is to make money. So, in a competitive and capitalist world, I think these businesses are natural.
What has your schedule been like this past year, having to promote the first season while simultaneously working on the second?
We started the campaign last October. I had to work on an upcoming project and also meet with lawyers, managers, agents and studios. I’m also working on a feature film and I have a deadline to finish writing the second season. squid game At the end of this year or beginning of next year. So for the last nine months, I haven’t really had time to stay. It’s pretty much the busiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I think I’ll be busy for some time.
How is your mental or emotional state when you multitask? does squid gameDoes their huge success help or hinder you?
It would be a complete lie if I said I don’t feel the pressure because there are a lot of people waiting for season two and season one was too successful not to feel the pressure. When I’m writing a screenplay, I really immerse myself in the world I’ve created and it’s less intimidating for me. As soon as I sit in front of my laptop, I become part of the world I’ve created and completely forget about the real world I’m in.
What theme or message do you plan to convey in season two? Will it be in any way a response to the reception of season one or recent world events?
I’ve seen a lot of people’s reactions to the show, but I don’t want to do a second season in response to those reactions. The philosophies I put in season 1 naturally carry over into season 2. Instead of living up to the audience’s expectations, I was thinking about the last moment when Gi-hoon came out of boarding the plane and wondered what I was going to do. Naturally, there will be a series of events until the end of the season. I can’t share the details just yet, but you know that Seong-hoon became a whole new person at the end of the first season, so the second season will be about what this new Gi-hoon is doing and how. Everything will evolve with this new type of character.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the separate August issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Source: Hollywood Reporter