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Steven Spielberg calls 'Squid Game' cast 'unknown people,' is criticized by fans

The director sparked criticism on Twitter when he said the success of “Squid Game” shows that “unknown people can star in entire miniseries, can be in movies.”
Image: Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg speaks at the premiere of "West Side Story" in New York City on Nov. 29.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images file

Steven Spielberg is catching heat from fans of “Squid Game” after the Hollywood director recently called the South Korean show’s cast “unknown people.” 

Speaking on a Producers Guild of America Awards panel Saturday, the “West Side Story” director spoke of Hollywood’s reliance on star power and the change recent Netflix shows brought to the industry. 

“‘Squid Game’ comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us,” he said. “A long time ago, it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies. Today, it’s interesting, unknown people can star in entire miniseries, can be in movies.”

Spielberg did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Fans of the record-breaking thriller picked up on Spielberg’s comments and expressed their irritation at another American referring to the series’ stars as “unknown.”

Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo and Jung Ho-yeon in "Squid Game."
Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo and Jung Ho-yeon in "Squid Game."Netflix

“So irked by Steven Spielberg’s comment about the cast of #SquidGame. Seriously, we Americans need to look at the world around us & stop being so full of ourselves,” one person tweeted

Some pointed to the repeated number of times this has happened to “Squid Game” cast members since starting media tours in the United States, with well-known names of the South Korean movie industry like Lee Jung-jae being asked in interviews what it feels like to be famous. In reality, Lee, who plays Seong Gi-hun, has been starring in major productions for decades. 

The fact that a filmmaker as successful as Spielberg isn’t familiar with major industry players abroad is frustrating and self-centered, fans said.

“Argggg more ethnocentrism courtesy of Americans who can’t see past their own borders,” Seoul-based writer Raphael Rashid said. “What series like Squid Game illustrate is exactly the opposite: that people around the world are satisfied with content other than English/white/US entertainment.”