Lee Byung Hun talked about his new character in 'Magnificent Seven'

Su Jin Jang, Sept. 12, 2016, 9:50 a.m.


According to actor Lee Byung Hun, his character on the latest rendition of Western flick “The Magnificent Seven” is both “stylish and weighty.” While it is not every day that an Asian actor stars as one of the main protagonists in a Hollywood blockbuster, Lee says that he was not too preoccupied with the nature of the role.

“I don’t necessary prefer playing a villain or a protagonist,” he said at the press screening for the film, directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Southpaw”), on Monday in southern Seoul. 

“For an actor, it’s more appealing to play a well-written villain than a poorly-written protagonist.”

In the film, Lee stars as Billy Rocks, the mysterious and lethal knife-wielding assassin who fights for justice, rubbing shoulders with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.

Filming in the Louisiana swamps was a difficult feat of production, he said. “There were crew members who were in charge of just catching snakes that came to the set,” he said. His co-star Chris Pratt would spend his free time fishing in the swamps and ask the chef on the set to prepare it for lunch, Lee recalled. 

It is the sixth time Lee is starring in a Hollywood film, and the second time Lee is starring in a Western, after the 2008 “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” by Kim Jee-woon, which director Fuqua had seen, Lee said. 

“He’s a very open director. He was even open to (actors) creating new scenes that weren’t in the script,” he said. 

“He’s so cool, his look his very unique,” director Fuqua said on Lee via video message. “Very funny, charming guy, very physical. He came up and we talked and right away, I thought, ‘He’s a cool guy.’”

Lee’s character is engaged in a bromance of sorts with the washed-out sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke.

“We became good friends in real life,” Lee said of Hawke. “When we weren’t filming, we would have a drink together. ... I used to be a fan of his, so becoming his friend was a great experience.” The film is a modern remake of the 1960 film of the same title. There is a stylishness that is unique to director Fuqua in the remake, Lee said. “It’s an exhilarating action flick.”

“There are so many superhero films these days with computer graphics effects and blue screens,” said Lee. “But acting out all the action sequences in real life in an analog fashion was extremely difficult.” 

On his international career, Lee said he hopes to continue to “take on new challenges.” 

“The Magnificent Seven” premiered on Sept. 8 as the opening film of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It opens in local theaters on Sept. 14.

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