While Squid Game has become Netflix’s biggest ever series, it hasn’t escaped criticism. Many viewers have noticed that the small group of English-speaking VIPs seem… below par in terms of acting. Many people feel as if the actors portraying these characters are not on the level of the Korean actors in the series, especially compared to the English-speaking actors in Western movies and series. But there is a reason for this, and it is more complex than simply blaming poor performance.
In an interview with The GuardianSquid Game actor John D. Michaels, who plays an important character, explained why the English cast appears relatively poorly: “It’s different for every show, but often non-Korean actors are represented with dialogue translated by a non-Korean, sometimes even by Google Translate, so it may sound unnatural.”
The problem with the English-speaking VIP scenes in Squid Game was exacerbated by the fact that the actors had no context for their roles. They were only told that they were “total idiots” and “millionaire bastards”, making it difficult to assess how their characters should play their roles. Michaels added, “We were all wearing very heavy gypsum masks, sitting on sofas at least 20 to 30 feet away from our closest other VIPs. We all had to say our dialogue vaguely, which added to the awkwardness of the performance.”
Michaels also noted that these problems can be complicated by the editing process, as a Korean editor is working on English scenes, so many don’t know what’s best to use. This apparently happened with the VIP scene, in which Jeffrey Giuliano used the phrase “I’ll cut anybody some slack” a few times during filming, but the editors used a wrong shot where the actor accidentally said “I’ll give anybody some slack” instead.
But despite the poor performance of the important characters, it appears that Squid Game is already worth $900 million to Netflix. This is an unparalleled success, and perhaps some Korean channels are now blaming themselves a lot, because Squid Game was rejected for 10 years by local studios.