Red 2 lands in theaters this Friday and Movie Fanatic got to talk exclusively with one of the biggest action stars on the planet, who has been making a splash of late (G.I. Joe). But, it is his starring in the sequel to Red that should put him firmly on the A-list. The South Korean superstar, Byung-hun Lee, has made movies banking hundreds of millions of dollars and now that American audiences have seen even a glimpse of him in the Red 2 trailer, he is poised to be the next Asian superstar to conquer the States.
Lee phoned us for our exclusive chat where he talked about how surreal it was to film an action sequence with his action movie hero, Bruce Willis. But, it was also a pinch-me moment for the young star sharing credits with actors and actresses who were his all-time favorites.
Movie Fanatic: What does it mean to you to be in a big American, Hollywood movie… especially one that follows up the success of Red?
Byung-hun Lee: I was a huge fan of the first Red, so I was so excited when I heard I was cast in this project. Also, the legendary cast of that movie -- it is a very honorable experience for me to work with them.
Movie Fanatic: The idea that your name is on the credits that include Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins, has it even sunk in yet?
Byung-hun Lee: Frankly, it feels unreal [laughs]. There is one more name on the title, at the end of the film -- my father’s name is on it as a special thanks. My father’s picture is on the film, too! That was the highest of honors for me and my family.
Movie Fanatic: There are so many killer action sequences you are a part of in Red 2, which one was the most challenging and why?
Byung-hun Lee: It’s beating up Bruce Willis that makes me so excited. But, also, I was kind of worried about, what if I hit him really hard? That would not be good. That scene made me really nervous. Fortunately, we did not have any accidents or injuries!
Movie Fanatic: Speaking of Bruce, what was it like working with the guy who you idolized?
Byung-hun Lee: I was a huge fan of him -- I grew up with his action movies, like Die Hard. It was unreal for me to have an action sequence with him. He was amazing and so generous. On the set, he has so many great ideas. He creates a lot of things to add in every scene. I learned so much from him. We made a lot of great action, together, and that was the best part.
Movie Fanatic: What other movie stars -- beyond Bruce -- inspired you to pursue this field?
Byung-hun Lee: All the actors in this film are actually who I admired growing up! But, I especially admired Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich. They’re legendary actors. It was unforgettable memories that were made with those two.
Movie Fanatic: The film is based on a wildly successful graphic novel. Did that make you nervous at all, the expectations?
Byung-hun Lee: I just tried to focus on the script and not worry about how many people love the Red series.
Movie Fanatic: The director, Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), is one of your first Western helmers to direct you. How was it different than those you have experienced before?
Byung-hun Lee: He likes to have a conversation with the actors, which is kind of unusual. I was really comfortable with that. I really like to share ideas with directors. We tried different versions of things.
Movie Fanatic: Your suits in the film were awesome, so sharp…
Byung-hun Lee: His world is most dangerous, and also at same time, he’s one of the richest assassins out there. So, he had to be the most fashionable and have luxury. It was cool... so cool!
Movie Fanatic: Did you get to keep any of those suits?
Byung-hun Lee: No! I wish [laughs].