Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
As Hollywood grapples with the accidental shooting death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, I had the chance to talk with “Squid Game” writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk about the safety precautions taken on the set of his intensely violent series. “We of course have a prop master, but also in Korea, we’re not really a gun-owning country, so only the police can have and own a gun,” he said. “Because of that, bullets are not really easily as distributed as they are maybe here, so there’s a very low, low possibility of any safety issues happening on set.”
In fact, he said, “in my life, I have never seen a real bullet. I have only seen them in the movies.”
Park Hae-soo said, “I felt so sad about [the ‘Rust’] tragedy. I just want to relay my condolences.”
I caught up with Hwang on Monday before a Q&A at NeueHouse Hollywood. Two nights before, he and “Squid Game” stars Park, Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon attended LACMA’s Art + Film Gala. Jung said she’s looking to break into the Hollywood market after making her acting debut in the series. Her dream co-star? Frances McDormand. “Her acting, I couldn’t find the words to describe it, but she is perfect,” Jung said. “She is always there as her character. I hate to say it’s a skill because she’s just there. I admire her. She is great.” Park listed Anthony Hopkins, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. “I just love them,” he said.
Hwang revealed to the Associated Press that a second season of “Squid Games” is in the works. “’Squid Game becoming the number one Netflix show in the United States was a dream that we had. That was a goal that we had,” he told me. “We did try our best to make that happen. However, I never imagined it to be an all-time biggest show and the cultural phenomenon it has become.”
Paul Mescal knows that he and Josh O’Connor playing lovers in the upcoming romantic drama “The History of Sound” is sparking debate about straight actors being cast as LGBTQ characters. “The conversation is open, and I know there will be issues with it,” Mescal told me at the Gucci Love Parade fashion show (his girlfriend Phoebe Bridgers walked in the show). However, he said, “it’s hugely important” to him that the film’s openly gay director, Oliver Hermanus, chose him and O’Connor for the roles. “I want to treat these guys with the utmost respect, not because of their sexuality but because I think I can really put my strengths into this character and I love him a lot,” Mescal said.
Shooting starts in the summer. “I think it’s the fastest I’ve signed a letter of interest,” Mescal said. “I can’t wait to work with Josh. I can’t wait to work with Oliver.” The two actors hung out in Los Angeles the night before Halloween. Said Mescal, “He was dressed up as a chicken. I wasn’t planning on being there, so I was just dressed as my good self.”
EXCLUSIVE: Congrats to Guillermo del Toro! He and film historian Kim Morgan are married. The Oscar-winning director revealed the big news when he referred to Morgan as “my wife” while introducing her to friends at LACMA’s Art + Film Gala. I’m told they married back in May. Morgan makes her big-screen writing debut as a co-writer with del Toro on his upcoming “Nightmare Alley.” The director was at LACMA to deliver tribute remarks about honoree Steven Spielberg, but then it was back to work on “Nightmare.” He told me he’s putting the finishing touches on the film in time for its Dec. 1 simultaneous world premieres in New York and Los Angeles. Because of COVID, the movie has taken three years to complete as opposed to his typical 16 months or so, del Toro said.