Ki Hong Lee
KI HONG LEE
The photogenic Ki Hong Lee first rose to fame last year thanks to the critically acclaimed trilogy, Maze Runner, playing the loyal yet sarcastic Glader and prestigious Keeper of the Runners, Minho. Proving he can turn his hand to anything, Lee also plays Dong Nguyen, in the hit Netflix original comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, created by the dynamic duo Robert Carlock and Tina Fey.
Even with his busy schedule, our cover guy for Young Hollywood had time to catch up with BELLO mag about his current acting projects and what it’s really like to be on set with the Maze Runner cast.
BELLO mag: So you’re in the middle of promoting the second installment of the Maze Runner franchise, how did you enjoy your trip to London?
Ki Hong Lee: London was great! I was able to try some of the local fare such as pie n’ mash with liquor, and fish and chips. [I] love trying the local food whenever I’m traveling!
BM: Aside from the London event of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, what else did you get up to in London?
KHL: It’s always fun to hang with my cast mates outside of filming. A lot more of us were in London promoting the film this time around so we spent some time hanging out after press was over for the day. We can be in the Maze, the Scorch, or be in someone’s hotel room – we have fun wherever we are.
BM: Do you enjoy being on the red carpet and going to premieres and press events?
KHL: It’s always fun interacting with fans. In Korea, the fans were so loving and supportive. Fans would literally give us gifts on the carpet and even waited for our arrival at the airport at 4 [o’clock] in the morning. We’ve got some artistically talented and dedicated fans.
BM: I love your character Minho! He has a very dry and sarcastic sense of humour, very British I think! Do you relate to him at all?
KHL: My only relation might be the hair. I’ve kind of adopted his hairstyle into my life. Minho is definitely more brave, stronger, faster and cooler than I am.
BM: There is such a great cast on Maze Runner, are you close to anyone in particular?
KHL: We all get along pretty well. It’s surprising because we are all extremely different. But I think what unites us is our love for acting and this movie. We care deeply about this movie, our fans, and our group. We all push each other to do the best job possible every day.
BM: The premise of the film is quite dark with the characters living in a dystopian society. In between takes, do you and the cast try to lighten up the atmosphere on set?
KHL: Yes, we are constantly cracking jokes and laughing. But I think that stems from the fact that we get along so well and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
BM: Who is the biggest prankster?
KHL: I’ve received this question a lot, and quite honestly we do not have pranksters. Only “cranks”…
BM: You have some new cast members for this film, Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones being one of them. How was it working alongside her?
KHL: Nathalie [Emmanuel] is great! We’ve definitely had some amazing actors join our film. I feel like they’ve been welcome additions to our family.
BM: Aside from Maze Runner, you also appear in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which also has a stellar cast! Which actors most inspired you?
KHL: They are all pretty remarkable. It’s so fun being able to act along side Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and Jane Krakowski. It’s really hard to say which one actor I was inspired by, because they all inspire me. I have to pinch myself every time I am on set because I still can’t believe I get to act in this amazing show.
BM: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a drastic change in genre from Maze Runner. Do you have a preference between comedy and drama?
KHL: I prefer to work. I really don’t take work for granted because, especially in this business, you never know when your next paycheck is going to arrive. In terms of which genre – I enjoy both. Comedy tends to be more fun just because it’s a comedy. But I love working in drama and getting down and dirty as well!
BM: Can you tell us a little bit about your character, Dong Nguyen?
KHL: Dong Nguyen is a recent immigrant to America [who] has more in common with Kimmy–a woman who has lived in an underground bunker her entire life–than anyone else. He also is romantically attached to Kimmy until the end of the first season, where their relationship gets in a little predicament. He’s a joy to play especially because the writing on the show is so good.
Photography: Ted Sun
Styling: James Sanders
Grooming: Mishelle Parry
Production Bello Media Group | Words by Michelle Ganney