Villains of the Year: Meet the infamous VIPs from "Squid Game"

“Why is Squid Game’s English-language acting so bad?” a recent headline wondered, echoing the experience of a hundred tweets and memes. The culprits are "VIPs" - four vile billionaires who speak English and wear masks.

Villains of the Year: Meet the infamous VIPs from "Squid Game"

Photo Credits: Netflix

"Squid Game" is the most popular series in the world, so why do actors who speak English sound like they read from Google translator, The Guardian wonders.

"Squid Game" is a sensation. The violent Korean series, which mixes nostalgia for childhood with a huge amount of death, has exceeded all expectations to become the most successful content in the history of Netflix. The series made its main actors world stars overnight. That is, with a few notable exceptions.

Why is Squid Game’s English-language acting so bad?” a recent headline wondered, echoing the experience of a hundred tweets and memes. The culprits are "VIPs" - four malevolent English-speaking, gold-masked billionaires who observe the action from afar, betting on the outcome of the massacre. To negative critics, it seems that the VIP actors in "Squid Game" are meaningless. But who are the people behind the masks?

"I've written more books about the Beatles than anyone before on this planet!" says Jeoffrey Giuliano, the only member of the group to take off his mask (along with the rest of his clothes) in the series. Giuliano was hired after impressing the producers with his role in the Korean horror sequel to "Train for Busan", but before that, he was best known as an author. He has written 32 books on the Beatles, including one for which Olivia Harrison wrote a letter to The Guardian stating, "The look on Jeoffrey Giuliano's face is enough to make anyone lonely."

As for the negative feedback about his role in the series, Giuliano is not interested in that.
"I'm not complaining, baby!" He shouts and gestures wildly. "I am in the most sought-after series in the world. Just today, I received an email from a woman who said, "Send me your autograph." So I did, and two hours later she sent me a photo of her with 'Jeffrey Giuliano, VIP 4,' tattooed over her forearm," he pauses. "There were also sexual invitations from men and women."

Daniel C. Kennedy, who plays VIP 2, does not feel so cheerful. He has been acting in Korea since 2014, but he is open about the criticism he has faced.

"I suffer from extreme clinical depression, so it was a little bit of a challenge," he replied by e-mail from Seoul during a break in his crowded filming schedule. “At first the comments took me aback, but with time and distance and some honest self-evaluation, I was able to filter feedback into things I can use to improve next time, compared to things that come when you’re part of a project that gets global recognition,“ Kennedy said.

Somewhere between these two extremes is John D. Michaels, who played VIP 1. A sympathetic, bearded 50-year-old, who has been earning a living by acting in Korea for the past five years, usually military figures or career politicians, Michaels wants to put criticism in context.

"I think the first thing to break is the myth that they just pick us up from the street," says Michaels, noting that every role he has ever played has come to the end of a long audition process. In addition to his screen appearances, Michaels also writes and directs, and has many years of experience as a performer.

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"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," he says. Although actors have the freedom to correct awkward dialogue, it often happens at the last minute and comes with a lot of limitations.

"And we often don't have scripts for the rest of the series," he added. "We are only given our scenes, so we have no idea about the nature of what we are doing," complained Michaels.

By: Sarah R.