Steven Spielberg says Netflix shows like Squid Game have changed the film and television industry for the better, as they’ve proven how successful titles can be without the pull of “domestic” leads and star-studded casts.
Speaking on a panel at the Producers Guild Awards recently, the Hollywood filmmaker celebrated the streaming service and its CEO, Ted Sarandos, who was sitting in the audience. While discussing the importance of movie stars in casting, Spielberg said (via Deadline): “Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us. Thank you, Ted.
“A long time ago it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies,” the West Side Story director continued. “Today, it’s interesting, unknown people can star entire miniseries, can be in movies.”
“What’s interesting is you can mix and match them also,” Todd Black, who produced the Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem-fronted biopic Being The Ricardos, added. “It’s really wonderful to be able to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to have a star in a smaller role. I’m going to have an unknown in the lead role.'”
“Now, you can go to the streaming service or the studio and say, ‘Okay, well, I’ll get the name to play for three days in this role but I’m going to go with a total unknown,'” Black noted. “Nine times out of 10 if the script is good enough and the budget is small enough, you can pull that off.”
“They do need an anchor,” Spielberg agreed. “If there’s an anchor they’re familiar with you can surround them with lesser known faces.”
Released in September 2021, Korean thriller Squid Game follows Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a divorced gambling addict who accepts a mysterious invitation to compete in an exclusive contest. There, it’s explained that he and the hundreds of other players can only advance in the process by beating their opponents in levels revolved around classic children’s games. And if they don’t win each round? Well, there are deadly consequences.
It was created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, and also features acclaimed performances from Gong Yoo, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, O Yeong-su, Anupam Tripathi, Heo Sung-tae, and HoYeon Jung.