‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Co-Star Byung-Hun Lee Calls Director Jon M. Chu ‘Brilliant’ (EXCLUSIVE)
Described as “the Brad Pitt of Korea,” Byung-Hun Lee made his American debut as Storm Shadow in Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. But the actor says that he felt more comfortable on the forthcoming sequel for more reasons than just the fact that he was no longer a newcomer to working in English. Specifically, he enjoyed a great collaboration with G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu.
“When I first shot G.I. Joe, I was so uncomfortable,” Lee tells Celebuzz, who is in Los Angeles promoting the Korean film Masquerade. “It was my first experience in Hollywood and I had to work in English. So I was kind of shy and embarrassed, so I didn’t talk a lot, to the director especially. He was always busy. But Jon Chu’s different. He always wants to talk a lot – discuss the scene and the characters. So I was really comfortable with that.”
“He’s brilliant,” Lee says. “His character is really comfortable like a [kid] so we could talk a lot.”
What obstacle made reshoots on ‘G.I. Joe 2’ tough for him to tackle?
Storm Shadow is one of the most beloved characters in G.I. Joe history, but the actor said that when he initially signed on to play the role, he did very little research into his animated predecessor.
“I didn’t watch the cartoon,” Lee reveals. “I just needed basic information because when I first asked Stephen Sommers if he rather I studied more or watched previous G.I. Joe stuff, cartoons, he said no, I want you to create something else.”
“Then he gave me the basic information about Storm Shadow,” he explains. “He gave me some of his characteristics, and then I created some other characteristics with that [role].”
Six weeks before Retaliation was scheduled to arrive in theaters, Paramount Pictures pulled it from the studio’s summer 2012 lineup and announced that the film would be converted into 3D. Additionally, the cast was recalled to shoot additional scenes, which Lee says was an especially big challenge since he was working on another film at the time.
“That was when I was filming [Masquerade],” he explains. “I’m in 90 percent of the movie, so my schedule was crazy. And then all of a sudden they called me and said you have to come here because we have to shoot one more day, so I told my director that I had to go to the States.”
“Even though it was only one day [of shooting], it took five days because you’re going back and forth so they hardly allowed me to go,” he reveals. “But my flight was so long and I was used to doing a period movie, that it was really hard to act in English.
“I made no good takes in 23, and that was my record,” he admits. “Thank God it was just one day.”
Masquerade opens in Los Angeles Friday, September 21. G.I. Joe: Retaliation opens nationwide March 29, 2013.