The nine-episode thriller explores a dystopian reality, in which a mysterious organisation recruits people in debt to compete in a series of deadly childhood games for the chance to win a huge sum of money.
The aforementioned VIPs are four English-speaking, mask-wearing billionaires who watch people play these fatal games for fun.
“Why is Squid Game’s English-Language Acting So Bad?” one recent headline asked, and hundreds of Twitter users have mocked the performances too, which they perceive to be awkward and unrealistic.
In a new interview with The Guardian, the actors playing the VIPs have responded to the online mockery.
“I ain’t complaining, baby!” Geoffrey Giuliano, who plays VIP four, apparently roared. “I’m in the hottest show in the world. I got fanmail. Just today I got a woman who said: ‘Send me your autograph.’ So I did, and two hours later she sent me a photo where she had ‘Geoffrey Giuliano, VIP four,’ tattooed right across her forearm. There have also been some sexual invitations, from males and females.”
Daniel C Kennedy, who plays VIP two, didn’t brush off the criticism in the same way. “I suffer from extreme clinical depression, so it’s been a bit of a challenge,” said.
“Initially, I was gutted by the comments but, with time and distance and some honest self-reflection, I’ve been better able to filter the feedback into the stuff I can use to improve next time, versus the stuff that is bound to come when you’re part of a project that gets global recognition.”
John D Michaels, who plays VIP one, added: “It’s different for every show, but non-Korean performers often act with dialogue that is translated by a non-native – sometimes even by Google Translate – so it can sound unnatural.”
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He explained that actors do have the opportunity to fix stilted dialogue, but it often happens at the last minute. “And often we don’t have the scripts for the rest of the show,” he said. “We are only given our scenes, so we have no idea of the tone.”
Trailer for Netflix thriller Squid Game
Kennedy added that, in Squid Game, the VIPs weren’t given any context to their scenes, meaning they invented their own back stories for their characters, which they decided were “total idiots” and “dirtbag millionaires”.
He said: “We were all wearing very heavy plaster masks, and sitting on couches that were at least 20-30ft away from the closest VIP. We all had to yell our lines vaguely into the air, which added to the weird tonality of the delivery.”
After being officially declared as Netflix’s biggest ever launch, Squid Game is estimated to be worth almost $900m (£654m) for the streaming service.