Squid Game Star Lee Jung-Jae Makes History With Lead Actor In A Drama Series Emmy Win

Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae made Emmy history tonight as the first first foreign-language actor to win Lead Actor in a Drama Series — he was also the first such actor to ever be nominated.

While Lee was Deadline’s predicted winner in the category, he took home the trophy against a packed field that included Jason Bateman for Ozark, Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong — each for Succession and Adam Scott for Severance.

The actor thanked show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk “for making a realistic problem we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals.”

He also, at the top of his speech, thanked God, the TV Academy and Netflix — in that order.

When asked by Deadline’s Pete Hammond in Cannes what it was like becoming a globally-recognized star overnight after 30 years in the business in Korea Lee said, “That shows that the globe is just one big network now without any silos. I could really feel that.”

He then offered, “I still feel like I am living a dream.”

And that was before the Emmy win.

He also won the SAG Award in the same category earlier this year.

This year Squid Game has become the first non-English-language show to secure an Emmy nomination in the main drama category, and it won for writing. The Korean mega-hit picked up noms in the Outstanding Drama Series category and also for Lee. Overall, the series scored 14 nominations.

While Squid Game was only supposed to run for one season, its massive popularity has changed that. Lee and Hwang will both be back for Season 2. Lee’s character Seong Gi-hun, otherwise known as Number 456, will seeking revenge in the upcoming season, Hwang told Deadline at the Emmys tonight.

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