Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae on joining The Acolyte, making history as a Jedi, and why he thinks Russian Doll’s Leslye Headland has a "fresh take" on Star Wars

Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol in The Acolyte
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

All eyes have been on Lee Jung-jae since his leading role as Seong Gi-hun, AKA Player 456, in Netflix’s mega-hit Squid Game. 

It was a performance that also put him on the radar of The Acolyte creator Leslye Headland and led to him joining a cast of Jedi in a galaxy far, far away – as a character that is an historic first for the franchise. 

"Director and showrunner Leslye Headland had watched me in Squid Game and wanted to meet with me. We had an initial Zoom meeting that led to a camera test," Lee tells GamesRadar+ (via an interpreter) about the initial conversations that led to him being cast as the sage Jedi Master Sol in The Acolyte. 

"I had actually watched Leslye’s previous work, Russian Doll and really enjoyed it. I thought it was really surprising that she reached out to me because I didn't think that there was too much in common between Russian Doll and Star Wars," Lee says of Headland’s previous work, the time loop Netflix drama starring Natasha Lyonne. 

"However I thought, because of this, she would have such a fresh take on directing a Star Wars show and I know that she is a Star Wars super fan. So she knows so much about the universe and the history of Star Wars, down to the small details. I was really looking forward to working with her on this." 

Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol in The Acolyte

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Sol isn’t just a beacon of patience and understanding in The Acolyte as the Jedi faces its first crisis of confidence in decades in a story set a century before The Phantom Menace. Lee is also the first Asian actor to play a Jedi in live-action, something the actor is "extremely honored" by.

"I believe I'm the first Asian actor to play a Jedi Master. So I think that is something that's a little bit different," Lee says on how his Jedi stands out from the pack in not only his own show, but in the wider Star Wars universe. 

"When you look at Star Wars films and shows in the past, you see that whether it's the costume or some of the martial arts [and] choreography, there is some kind of Asian influence. So I thought that maybe, because The Acolyte happens in a timeline that is previous to any show or film that's out currently, there was a choice to select an Asian actor for the role of Master Sol."

Next up for Lee is a return to the Front Man’s devilish selection of childhood games as Player 456 in Squid Game season 2, which is set to release on Netflix this year.

On what he’s learned from The Acolyte moving forward in his career – including on Squid Game – Lee explained it was the action side of his first English-language role that will prove most beneficial.

"I was working with Hollywood's best action team in order to train for the Acolyte," Lee says.

"They gave me a very regimented schedule to training, step-by-step, starting from the basics. Because I went through such rigorous and systematic training, I do think that will be very helpful in my future projects."

The Acolyte is streaming exclusively on Disney Plus from June 4 in the US and June 5 in the UK.

For more, check out The Acolyte release schedule and our interview with The Acolyte cast on the show's expansive sets – plus all the latest news on upcoming Star Wars movies and shows.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.