Contestants vying for a hefty cash prize in Netflix’s real-life version of its 2021 hit “Squid Game” were faced with a cold reality while filming the new series in England.
According to Variety and the Sun, hundreds of players competing in the streaming giant’s spinoff show, “Squid Game: The Challenge,” had to do so in below-freezing temperatures as production on the unscripted series got underway Monday. Cast and crew are working at Bedford’s Cardington Studios, located in a hangar on a former Royal Air Force base north of London.
While shooting the series’ iconic game of Red Light, Green Light — complete with a giant singing doll presiding over the sequence, as seen in the Emmy-winning deadly drama — players began to feel unwell during takes while others crawled to a finish in -3 degree Celsius weather (26 degrees Fahrenheit) during a devastating UK cold snap, the Sun reported.
“Even if hypothermia kicked in then people were willing to stay for as long as possible because a lot of money was on the line,” one player told the Sun. “Too many were determined not to move so they stood there for far too long. “There were people arriving thinking they were going to be millionaires but they left in tears. … It was like a war zone. People were getting carried out by medics but we couldn’t say anything. If you talk then you’re out. Some people couldn’t move their feet because it was so cold.”
But Netflix, along with its production partners Studio Lambert and the Garden, on Wednesday downplayed the harrowing conditions described by the contestants.
“We care deeply about the health and safety of our cast and crew, and invested in all the appropriate safety procedures. While it was very cold on set — and participants were prepared for that — any claims of serious injury are untrue,” they said in a joint statement provided to The Times.
Another contestant quoted by the Sun said that each player was given two thermals, two socks, a shirt, shoes and a green tracksuit. They wore “blood vests” under their clothes, which “burst automatically if they catch you moving [during the game] to make it look like you’ve been shot.” Participants were bused in from London and reportedly stayed at bunk beds at the studio.
No one was “stretchered off,” as the Sun had reported, and players were provided with thermals and given hand warmers, The Times confirmed Wednesday.
Netflix announced in June that it was recruiting English speakers from from around the world for “the biggest reality competition series ever,” based on director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s captivating Korean series. The competition, touting the largest cast and lump-sum cash prize in reality TV history, has 456 players competing for a $4.56-million cash reward in a series of games inspired by the series.
Mercifully — and humanely — instead of sudden death, each player’s worst fate will be “going home empty-handed,” Netflix said at the time.
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