Netflix, the newest worldwide phenomenon Squid Game, has definitely taken over. Despite its dark storylines and violent nature, viewers have fallen in love with the nostalgic concept and relatable characters.
Yet, one aspect of the show that has gained criticism was the characters known as the VIPs. They are the only characters who communicate entirely in English, and they are the mask-wearing billionaires who watch the action from afar while betting on the contestants.
Yet, many viewers have seen the acting from these VIPs as stilted and mannered. In a recent interview, the actors behind the masks shared their feelings behind the criticism.
While Geoffrey Giuliano, the only man who removed his mask, was fine with any sort of publicity, it was different for Daniel C Kennedy, who played the man behind the bull mask. As someone who suffers from depression, he explained that it was hard for him to take first and adjust to the criticism.
One of the actors who had more of an opinion on the criticism was John D Michael, the VIP behind the lion mask, an experienced actor and shined some context on the issue.
The first thing that Michael explained was that non-native English speakers translate the English dialogue. Several of the actors also revealed that they weren’t context behind the scenes and were acting on the information that they were “total idiots” and “dirtbag millionaires.”
Non-Korean performers often act with dialogue that is translated by a non-native – sometimes even by Google Translate – so it can sound unnatural. Often we don’t have the scripts for the rest of the show. We are only given our scenes, so we have no idea of the tone.
— John D Michael
Michael then added that sometimes the acting differences were emphasized during the editing process. In particular, Geoffrey Giuliano explained a line was used in the show, which was an outtake.
In my first line in Squid Game, you see me say, ‘Listen, I’ll give anybody some slack.‘ That’s not what people say. They say, ‘I’ll cut anybody some slack. In the final version, they went with the ‘give.’
— Geoffrey Giuliano
Many viewers saw the difference in acting between the VIPs and Korean cast and voiced their opinions on social media.
We’re finally at the VIPs episode of Squid Game and I’m wondering who else is shocked by how especially… rough… the acting by the white actors and English dialogue is? It’s like something comical out of a bad midnight movie. Otherwise a great show!
— Aria Inthavong (@ariainthavong) October 11, 2021
The actors also added that it was a character that needed to be more of an interpretation of what other cultures might envisage in such characters. Due to this, they explained that everything was exaggerated and heightened to ensure that the VIPs were seen as these evil and twisted people.
Although their acting has been criticized, there is no doubt how vital the characters are to the show. They showcase the vast differences between humans and how much of it stems from the idea of wealth and power.