Plenty of actors are praised for their dedication to the craft, but none of them are quite Lee Jung-jae, the Korean acting royalty who casually learnt an entirely different language for his new role in The Acolyte.


Best known internationally as Seong Gi-hun in Netflix's smash hit Squid Game, the star has now taken his talents to a galaxy far, far away for The Acolyte, the newest Star Wars offering from Russian Doll writer Leslye Headland.

Whisking us back earlier than we've ever been in the Star Wars timeline, The Acolyte follows a former Jedi Padawan (The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg) who reunites with her former Master (Lee) to investigate a series of crimes. But they soon find out they're dealing with much more sinister forces than they ever could have imagined.

For Lee, who grew up watching Star Wars, landing a role as a Jedi Master was beyond his wildest dreams - so when the news came of his casting, the challenge was on to do as much research as humanly possible.

Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol in The Acolyte in a brown and yellow robe with lightsaber on his belt
Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol in The Acolyte. LucasFilm

"I feel like there are no little boys from that time period that didn't play with the Star Wars figurines. I was definitely one of them," he tells

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"I really couldn't believe it when I found out that I would be Master Sol. Because it is so meaningful to become a character in this vast Star Wars universe, and also within Star Wars history.

"I went and did a lot of research and studied all these Jedi of the past in order to build my character of Master Sol. So that was kind of my first homework, was going and looking at all these past performances."

He jokes: "The biggest preparation I had to do for Master Sol might have been hypnotising myself, telling myself, 'I am a Jedi Master. I am a Jedi Master.'"

Many of the cast actually went to "Jedi school" to prepare for the daunting business of entering the world of Star Wars. But for Lee, it was barely necessary.

Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae and Leslye Headland talking on set
Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae and Leslye Headland. Disney

"I think it was a really great opportunity to be able to act in this new timeline," he says. "And there's actually an expert at LucasFilm that came to explain Star Wars history.

"What he's told us was that because this is a completely different and earlier timeline, we could use our own original ideas and interpreting character and for our performances, and of course, be able to express what we wanted to express.

"But out of respect for the Star Wars universe, and also just the feeling that I got from watching those earlier movies, I wanted to make a connection between my character and Jedi Masters of the past.

"So I would say it's about 50/50, one showing that originality because of the alternate timeline, but also paying homage to the great actors who had acted as Jedi Masters and making sure that my character was cohesive within the branch of this Star Wars universe."

By now, it's widely known that Stenberg actually plays two characters - sisters Osha and Mae, who are separated by a tragic event at a young age, and who both have a relationship with Sol.

Rebecca Henderson as Vernestra Rwoh and Lee Jung-jae as Master Sol in Star Wars: The Acolyte wearing Jedi robes
Star Wars: The Acolyte. Disney Plus/LucasFilm

"I think Master Sol really cares for both Osha and Mae," Lee explains "And he feels a lot of guilt over the situations that happened in the past that led to what's happening in the present.

"Because of this guilt, he is going through a lot of inner turmoil. Because of the multi-layered nature of this conflict, I think it was really fun and interesting for me to act alongside Amandla and to express these situations."

In contrast to Amandla's fiery characters, Lee's Master Sol is calm, collected and incredibly protective, something he worked on closely with showrunner Headland.

"From the moment Leslye explained this role to me, I had a lot of trust in her because I had already seen her previous work on Russian Doll, and how sensitive she directed the show, and what a fresh take she had," he reflects.

"So I knew that when she was directing The Acolyte that she would bring her unique voice into the show, and we had a lot of conversations about the philosophy of Master Sol, as well as his warm heart and how that affects the relationship that he's going to build.

"So because this character was so well formed by Leslye already, I was just so happy to be able to fill his shoes and to be acting as Master Sol."

He adds: "I think Master Sol is a character that constantly tries to right the wrongs. So he is able to go through a lot of sacrifice in order to do this. And I think this encompasses his character very well."

Of course, it's also Lee's first ever English-speaking role - although you would never know it when watching.

"Learning English was definitely a huge challenge in preparing for this role," he admits. "However, I had two incredible dialogue coaches that were helping me along the way, and we spent so much time together, and down to the small details they were really teaching me how to speak - and because they had such great personalities as well, we were always joking around and laughing on set, so it still remains a really great memory for me."

While the series is only just beginning, there's already been talk about a potential season 2 - something Lee has also hinted at. When asked how fans will feel as the credits roll on the final episode, he smiles and teases: "I think they'll want to see a season 2."

While that's yet to be confirmed, there's no such uncertainty about season 2 of Squid Game, which has been filmed and is coming to Netflix this year.

Teasing what we've got ahead in the brutal drama, Lee says: "I think the script for season 2 is even more interesting than season 1, and there is going to be a new set of characters as well. So I think the audience is going to be really excited about it.

"One thing I felt while reading the script is that there is an even deeper emotion that's discovered within season 2, and also I think the audience will feel like, 'Where is this story going?' Because there's so many twists and turns that happen."

It's safe to say that Lee has already had an illustrious career. But it seems his future could be even more exciting.

He's not ruling out more English roles, saying: "I think I would have fun with the role if another opportunity arose."

As for any other projects he hasn't had the chance to do yet? He doesn't even dare to dream: "Because even playing a Jedi Master was something I couldn't even really dream of, not necessarily something that I was prepared to do.

"I do think the roles that come to me, it's a little bit like destiny, and rather than kind of expect or anticipate a role in the future, I am ready to take on anything exciting that comes and I'm open to every category."

Star Wars: The Acolyte will launch on Disney Plus on Tuesday 4th June. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.


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