Byung-hun Lee Talks Training, Storm Shadow vs Snake Eyes, Weapons, Movies in Hollywood vs Korea and His Action Figure on the Set of G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

     March 14, 2013


While some had issues with the first G.I. Joe movie, most would agree the casting of Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow and Ray Park as Snake Eyes was dead on.  So when Paramount decided to make the sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, while they brought in a lot of new actors, I was extremely happy they kept Lee and Park as Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes.

During a group interview on the set when Retaliation was filming in New Orleans, Lee talked about returning for the sequel, the training, how Storm Shadow has a bigger role in the sequel, the fight scenes, the difference between making movies in Hollywood and Korea, his action figure, and a lot more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

gi-joe-2-movie-image-storm-shadow-byung-hun-leeQuestion: We hear that you have a bigger part in this movie than in the original film.

BYUNG-HUN LEE: Yeah, that’s a good thing. [laughs] I think it’ll be more of his history. His history and we will see even his humanistic traits.

Do you have to train specifically for these movies or is this just the shape you stay in all the time?

LEE: You’ll see. Of course there are a lot of actions here. Much more, I think. They will use different weapons.

For the character, did you look at the comics or the cartoon?

LEE: Actually, Jon wanted to show a more realistic character. He’ll be much more realistic compared to the cartoon or those kind of characters.

We noticed your English is a little bit better than on the first G.I. Joe. Have you been working on your English this whole time?

LEE: No, no. Never. I’ve had to work a lot in Korea. There’s no chance to learn English more. I could be much more comfortable because I’ve been here three months. I could be comfortable here.

It sort of feels like Storm Shadow is off on a separate adventure. Can you talk about that at all? How many scenes do you have just by yourself?

LEE: I think definitely much more than the first one. I used to always be with Sienna Miller or Destro before but in this movie I’m with a lot of people, actually. There’s no specific person in this movie. I go around, sometimes by myself with Snake Eyes, Jaye. Maybe all of them, I think.

byung-hun-lee-g-i-joe-2How many fight scenes do you get with Snake Eyes? I think the first one was two.

LEE: There’s two big fights with him and another big fight without him.

What are you filming right now?

LEE: This part of a fight with Snake Eyes. At the end, I’m choking him, but he’s locked my hand until they can help him.

Are you and Ray very much in sync with one other as far as choreography goes on fights?

LEE: Yeah, we’re both much more comfortable now. We know each and how we move. His specialty and my specialty. In this movie, he has a lot of fights. Of course, we’ve trained a lot together, but we need to train separately, also. We have other fights.

Is there a scene or a weapon you’re most excited about?

LEE: You’ll see. There’s a sai.

Can you compare and contrast making movies in the US and in Korea?

LEE: Basically, it’s the same. Or similar. But it’s real different, I think. The most different thing is that their pre-production is so short and the production is real long. But in America, their pre-production is really long but the production is much shorter. They decide everything from the beginning to the end. They edit and nobody can touch it, actually.

byung-hun-lee-storm-shadowHow long did you shoot for “The Good, The Bad, The Weird”?

LEE: Like seven months. Seven or eight months.

How important is it to build a relationship with your stunt partners?

LEE: That’s why we train a lot. Even if you don’t trust somebody, if you train a lot you’ll trust them eventually. But Ray and I  are really good friends. We trust each other. Training is much easier.

When did you first hear about doing a sequel and were you excited to come back?

LEE: Yeah, I was very excited and a lot of fans of mine all around the world — Korea and Japan — were looking forward to it. It was ten months ago? A year?

How much training time did you have for this one?

LEE: Five weeks, I think. In my case, I’m not shooting every day. I have time to do some training. I train with the stunt guys whenever I can.

When do you wrap on this?

LEE: It will be the middle of November. Or the end of November, yeah.

What have you been doing in New Orleans?

LEE: I like the storms. There was a huge, huge storm, Storm Lee. Everybody made fun of me. “It’s because of you!” [laughs] “Okay, sorry.”

Are you going to be in more American movies?

LEE: I hope so. You never know.

lee-byung-hun-storm-shadow-g-i-joe-retaliationDo you own your action figure from the first movie?

LEE: Yeah, I have three different kinds of figures. Fans send them to me. I have a few on my desk in Korea.

What’s it like working with Ray Stevenson?

LEE: When I first saw him, he was hesitating. He asked me, “Hey, did you watch J.S.A.?” I was like, “Yeah, of course.” I’m in that movie. He recognized me. That was one of my favorite moments. We could be really close because of that.

What about Dwayne Johnson?

LEE: Yeah, we had a dinner right before shooting. I said, “Are you going to show off in this movie?” He said, “I don’t know. Maybe. If Jon wants to do that.” “Don’t do that.” [laughs]

You’re a much bigger star overseas. Do your fans there appreciate these American roles?

LEE: Both. Some people cheer me on. Some people want me to do more Korean movies or tv series. That’s because of the cultural differences. Some people want to watch Korean movies and TV series that are so Korean. It’s both ways.

When this is done, where do you go?

LEE: I haven’t decided yet. We’re talking about a Korean movie and an American movie. I think I’ll find out a month later.

gi-joe-retaliation-posterWhat’s been the biggest challenge on this film?

LEE: From the beginning to the end, everything has been a challenge for me. Working in Hollywood, especially in this kind of genre. I’d never done that before the first G.I. Joe. It’s sort of a fantasy action genre.

Can you compare the two directors between this and the first one. What kind of energy has Jon brought in?

LEE: I’m really close to Stephen Sommers. He was a really nice man. Their way of directing is really different. Really, really different. Jon is more Korean-style. I’m used to it. This is the first time I’ve worked with him, so that surprised me. I can work with him and feel comfortable and feel good. Even though the camera is rolling, he says “different version! different version!” Sometimes it’s five different ways. I like that. Acting is one of the most important things. He thinks like that. I like that.

G.I. Joe: Retribution opens March 29th.  For more from my set visit:

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