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Squid Game: Lee Jung-jae becomes first Asian to win best actor Emmy

Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae is the first to win the best actor at the Emmy. The 49-year-old South Korean actor beats four others, including veteran actor Brian Cox of Succession fame.

Jung-jae holds his trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for “Squid Game” at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Lee Jung-jae holds his trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for Squid Game at the 74th Emmy Awards held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Actor Lee Jung-jae, who played the moral centre in Squid Game, has become the first Asian and South Korean to win the Emmy for best drama series actor, one of four awards picked by the hit Netflix series.

Lee on Monday bested a crowded field that featured Jason Bateman for Ozark, Brian Cox as the patriarch and Jeremy Strong as his son in Succession, Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, and Adam Scott for Severance.

Squid Game is a dark drama that tells the story of people who compete in a deadly competition to erase their financial debt. The series had topped Netflix viewing charts in multiple countries, kickstarted sales of tracksuits and Vans sneakers, and kindled global interest in learning Korean.

“Thank you for making realistic problems we all face come to life so creatively on the screen,” Lee, aged 49, said to Hwang Dong-hyuk, creator of Squid Game who also won the Emmy for best drama series direction.

Speaking in Korean at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Lee thanked the audience in his native country and said he expected the awards to open doors for other Asian actors. Backstage, Hwang said it was a “major moment” for him and Lee.

Lee, a well-known actor in South Korea, has picked up several accolades for his role as Seong Gi-hun in the past year, including the Screen Actor Guilds award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.

In total, Squid Game was nominated for 14 Emmy awards, including two supporting actor accolades and one supporting actress nod, while creator Hwang was also up for best writing, losing to Succession writer Jesse Armstrong.

In June, Netflix said it was casting for a new reality TV show, Squid Game: The Challenge, saying the show will have the “largest cast and lump cash prize in reality TV history”, with 456 participants competing for $4.56m.

You can see the full winners list below:

Best Drama Series

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Euphoria (HBO)
Ozark (Netflix)
Severance (Apple TV+)
Squid Game (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
WINNER: Succession (HBO)
Yellowjackets (Showtime)

Best Actress in a Drama Series
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Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney (Ozark)
Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show)
WINNER: Zendaya (Euphoria)

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Brian Cox (Succession)
WINNER: Lee Jung-Jae (Squid Game)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Adam Scott (Severance)
Jeremy Strong (Succession)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Patricia Arquette (Severance)
WINNER: Julia Garner (Ozark)
Jung Ho-Yeon (Squid Game)
Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets)
Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul)
J. Smith-Cameron (Succession)
Sarah Snook (Succession)
Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas Braun (Succession)
Billy Crudup (The Morning Show)
Kieran Culkin (Succession)
Park Hae-Soo (Squid Game)
WINNER: Matthew Macfadyen (Succession)
John Turturro (Severance)
Christopher Walken (Severance)
Oh Yeong-Soo (Squid Game)

Best Comedy Series

Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Barry (HBO)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Hacks (HBO Max)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Only Murders In The Building (Hulu)
WINNER: Ted Lasso (Apple)
What We Do In The Shadows (FX)

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary)
Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant)
Elle Fanning (The Great)
Issa Rae (Insecure)
WINNER: Jean Smart (Hacks)

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Nicholas Hoult (The Great)
Steve Martin (Only Murders In The Building)
Martin Short (Only Murders In The Building)
WINNER: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Hannah Einbinder (Hacks)
Janelle James (Abbott Elementary)
Kate Mckinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Sarah Niles (Ted Lasso)
WINNER: Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary)
Juno Temple (Ted Lasso)
Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Carrigan (Barry)
WINNER: Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso)
Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Tyler James Williams (Abbott Elementary)
Henry Winkler (Barry)
Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live)

Best Limited Or Anthology Series

Dopesick (Hulu)
The Dropout (Hulu)
Inventing Anna (Netflix)
Pam & Tommy (Hulu)
WINNER: The White Lotus (HBO)

Best Actress in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology

Toni Collette (The Staircase)
Julia Garner (Inventing Anna)
Lily James (Pam & Tommy)
Sarah Paulson (Impeachment: American Crime Story)
Margaret Qualley (Maid)
WINNER: Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout)

Best Actor in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology

Colin Firth (The Staircase)
Andrew Garfield (Under The Banner Of Heaven)
Oscar Isaac (Scenes From A Marriage)
WINNER: Michael Keaton (Dopesick)
Himesh Patel (Station Eleven)
Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy)

Best Supporting Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie

Connie Britton (The White Lotus)
WINNER: Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus)
Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus)
Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick)
Natasha Rothwell (The White Lotus)
Sydney Sweeney (The White Lotus)
Mare Winningham (Dopesick)

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus)
Jake Lacy (The White Lotus)
Will Poulter (Dopesick)
Seth Rogen (Pam & Tommy)
Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Dopesick)
Steve Zahn (The White Lotus)

Best Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
WINNER: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC)
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Best Variety Sketch Series

A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO/HBO Max)
WINNER: Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Best Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)
WINNER: Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls (Amazon Prime Video)
Nailed It! (Netflix)
Rupaul’s Drag Race (Vh1)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)

Best Directing for a Drama Series

Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Ben Stiller (Severance)
WINNER: Hwang Dong-Hyuk (Squid Game)
Mark Mylod (Succession)
Cathy Yan (Succession)
Lorene Scafaria (Succession)
Karyn Kusama (Yellowjackets)

Best Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Danny Strong (Dopesick)
Francesca Gregorini (The Dropout)
Michael Showalter (The Dropout)
John Wells (Maid)
Hiro Murai (Station Eleven)
WINNER: Mike White (The White Lotus)

Best Directing for a Comedy Series

Hiro Murai (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Lucia Aniello (Hacks)
Mary Lou Belli (The Ms. Pat Show)
Jamie Babbit (Only Murders In The Building)
Cherien Dabis (Only Murders In The Building)
WINNER: MJ Delaney (Ted Lasso)

Best Writing for a Comedy Series

WINNER: Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary)
Duffy Boudreau (Barry)
Alec Berg, Bill Hader (Barry)
Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, Jen Statsky (Hacks)
Steve Martin, John Hoffman (Only Murders In The Building)
Jane Becker (Ted Lasso)
Sarah Naftalis (What We Do In The Shadows)
Stefani Robinson (What We Do In The Shadows)

Best Writing for a Drama Series

Thomas Schnauz (Better Call Saul)
Chris Mundy (Ozark)
Dan Erickson (Severance)
Hwang Dong-Hyuk (Squid Game)
WINNER: Jesse Armstrong (Succession)
Jonathan Lisco, Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson (Yellowjackets)
Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson (Yellowjackets)

Best Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Danny Strong (Dopesick)
Elizabeth Meriwether (The Dropout)
Sarah Burgess (Impeachment: American Crime Story)
Molly Smith Metzler (Maid)
Patrick Somerville (Station Eleven)
WINNER: Mike White (The White Lotus)

Best Writing for a Variety Special

Ali Wong (Ali Wong: Don Wong)
Ian Berger, Devin Delliquanti, Jennifer Flanz, Jordan Klepper, Zhubin Parang, Scott Sherman (The Daily Show With Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers The Globe – Hungary For Democracy)
WINNER: Jerrod Carmichael (Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel)
Nicole Byer (Nicole Byer: Bbw (Big Beautiful Weirdo))
Norm MacDonald (Norm MacDonald: Nothing Special)


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