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Star Wars: Why Jedi Master Sol From The Acolyte Looks So Familiar

The public's classic perception of the Jedi is that they're dispensers of wisdom who guide others to a higher truth and plane of enlightenment. On the Star Wars TV series "The Acolyte," the individual who best fits that bill is Jedi Master Sol, played by Lee Jung-jae. He's the former master of Osha (Amandla Stenberg), and is currently overseeing the teaching of Jecki Lon, played by an unrecognizable Dafne Keen

Audiences familiar with Korean productions may recognize Lee, but "The Acolyte" is his first English-language show. In fact, the actor learned English specifically for this role, looking toward the great Jedi Masters of the past for inspiration. He spoke with Entertainment Weekly about one Jedi he really wanted to embody: "One of my favorite characters was Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson. I really kind of tried to find the connective tissue between him and my character, Master Sol."

If you're a fan of Korean shows, you may have seen Lee before. More than likely, you've seen him on one of the biggest Netflix series of all time, but here's where else you can find him if you need more of the actor after "The Acolyte."

New World (2013)

Lee Jung-jae may be more recognizable to American audiences now after his fantastic turn on "The Acolyte," but he's been a fixture in South Korea for many years now. His filmography dates back to the 1990s with star-making turns in an array of TV shows and films. He's a genuine A-list star in his home country, delivering exceptional performances in the likes of "The Accidental Gangster and the Mistaken Courtesan" and "The Housemaid," but one of his best gigs came in the form of 2013's "New World."

Lee plays the film's lead, Lee Ja-Sung, who works as an undercover police officer infiltrating one of the largest Korean crime syndicates. While Ja-Sung wants out of this life, Chief Kang (Choi Min-sik of "Oldboy" fame) is in no rush to spare him from what could be a gruesome fate. Variety praised the film in its review, calling particular attention to Lee's performance: "[Lee Jung-jae's] sullen unwillingness and barely controlled nervousness jack up the suspense considerably."

With "New World," it's readily apparent Lee could lead any suspenseful project. This undoubtedly came in handy with a show that would go on to become a global phenomenon. 

Squid Game (2021 - ?)

Lee Jung-jae had been an A-list star in South Korea for many years when he received a true-blue global hit with "Squid Game." Lee plays Seong Gi-hun, a down-on-his-luck man who gets the opportunity to win an immense fortune by competing in a series of children games with fatal consequences for losing. The show remains one of Netflix's biggest TV hits ever, and Lee made Emmy history by becoming the first Asian actor to win best actor in a drama series. 

The series put Lee in an even grander spotlight, and while it further catapulted his career, he also shared some remarks about what "Squid Game" being so popular means to him. While speaking with The Guardian, he said, "If you think about the themes of 'Squid Game' — how far are we willing to go to accumulate personal wealth; the lengths people are forced to go to — the fact it resonated with so many around the world is worrying. You get a sense this is the reality for so many people globally."

The fact Netflix seemingly ignored those anti-capitalist themes and pushed forward with "Squid Game: The Challenge," a reality-based competition show, appears to confirm the belief that so many people would put themselves in harm's way just to make enough money to survive. As for Lee, his "Squid Game" performance inspired his casting on "The Acolyte," making it one of his most lucrative roles ever. 

The Hunt (2022)

Following up the worldwide hit that was "Squid Game" would certainly be no easy task. But Lee Jung-jae challenged himself in a way he hadn't before by stepping into the directorial seat for the 2022 movie "The Hunt," which draws from several real-life events from South Korea's history. Lee also stars in the film as Park Pyong-ho, a respective government agent at the center of these incidents. 

Around the time "The Hunt" came out, Xoop exclusively spoke with Lee about the project and why it was the right movie for him to make his directorial debut. He said, "Having worked on the script for so long, the next thought that naturally occurred was, 'There probably isn't anyone else who knows the script better than I do,' so I decided to take that leap of faith and try directing it as well." It remains to be seen if Lee will direct anything else, but between his various acting gigs, he'll be plenty busy for some time to come. 

By playing Jedi Master Sol on "The Acolyte," Lee has opened himself to a whole new world of English-language productions. After winning an Emmy and entering a galaxy far, far away, it's a safe bet plenty of people in Hollywood will want to work with him, so his filmography could become even bigger in the years to come.