From YouTube to Hollywood

Actor Lee Joon Gi got a role in Resident Evil after director Paul Anderson watched a video of his action scenes made by fans

South Korean actor Lee Joon Gi, 34, has his fans to thank for helping him snag his first Hollywood stint in sci-fi horror blockbuster Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017), currently in theatres here.

The movie franchise's director Paul Anderson reached out to the actor after watching a fan-made YouTube video featuring action scenes of his past works.

"The director got curious about what I could bring to the Resident Evil movie after watching the video," says Lee, who has been cast as a villain chasing after the series' heroine, portrayed by actress Milla Jovovich.

He was speaking to The Straits Times last Friday ahead of his fan meet here as part of the HSBC Women's Champions Music Festival on Saturday.

The actor's first visit to Singapore is his way of showing gratitude to his supporters here. The fan meet, a 21/2-hour show, titled Thank You Asia Tour, also stopped in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Singapore is the last stop.


South Korean actor Lee Joon Gi showed his gratitude to his supporters in a 21/2-hour show. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

The K-drama leading man does not have much screen-time as antagonist Commander Lee of the organisation behind the zombie outbreak in the film series.

Still, Lee wanted to give his best shot for his Hollywood debut and decided to perform all the stunts himself, even if he "did not have as many scenes as other actors".

Executing swashbuckling fight sequences is second nature to the agile actor, who throws punches and delivers flying kicks in period dramas such as Scholar Who Walks The Night (2015) and Scarlet Heart (2016), the Korean adaptation of the 2011 Chinese time-travel drama of the same title.

For his future ventures in Tinseltown, Lee will likely continue taking on action roles.

He says: "At this point, I feel I have to work on my acting when it comes to portraying emotions for an English-speaking role. For an action role, I can portray emotions through body movements.

"I've asked Paul Anderson to keep me in mind for any upcoming productions. I am willing to take the role no matter how small it is," says Lee, who made a breakthrough in South Korea as an effeminate court jester in the historical film, The King And The Clown (2005).

When choosing new projects in South Korea, he is likely to pick a contemporary drama over the period flicks which propelled him to fame.

Though attracted to the beautiful traditional costumes and the challenge of portraying a story set in a bygone era, he says: "Maybe it is time to stop. Every time people hear the name Lee Joon Gi, they think of the actor in period dramas."

The bachelor professes that his focus is on his career now, but does not rule out romance.

He says: "Like all other men, I am always on the lookout for my other half. But at this point of time, I am focusing on my career. If the right one comes along, I will go for it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'From YouTube to Hollywood'. Print Edition | Subscribe