‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ Makers On Finding 456 Leads And Embracing The Chaos – Contenders TV: Doc + Unscripted

‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ Makers On Finding 456 Leads And Embracing The Chaos – Contenders TV: Doc + Unscripted

Casting for Netflix’s reality competition series Squid Game: The Challenge was a unique challenge: finding 456 diverse and international lead characters.

Casting director Erika Dobrin described the gargantuan task by saying, “I don’t think that’s ever quite been done before on the scale it was done here.”

More from Deadline

The Netflix series, based on the streaming’s mega-hit Korean survival drama Squid Game, saw 456 contestants compete for a massive $4.56 million prize through a series of challenges. These ranged from the infamous “Red Light Green Light” from the 2021 drama, in which contestants had to avoid moving while in the eyeline of a horrifying giant doll, to new ones based on children’s games such as Battleship.

RELATED: Contenders TV Doc + Unscripted – Deadline’s Full Coverage

“The most terrifying thing was following story with a cast that big,” said John Hay, executive producer at co-producer The Garden, during a panel for the show at Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted.

The continuous elimination element of the show meant Dobrin could find “the most amazing person, and then they were gone in ‘Red Light Green Light’ ” – the first game of Episode 1. “I had to make sure every person would be good enough to win if they won,” she added.

Toni Ireland, executive producer at Studio Lambert, the show’s other co-producer, said accepting that the shape of cast was entirely uncontrollable became crucial to the production.

RELATED: Deadline Studio At Contenders Television 2024 – Lily Gladstone, Jodie Foster, Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, Giancarlo Esposito, Joey King, Joel Kim Booster and More

“The biggest challenge for the story team was making sure everyone who entered featured in a story at some point every day on camera, so once we got to the end and knew the winner, we could decide where the viewers meet that person for the first time,” she added.

“Normally on a reality show, you’re covering 30 or 40 stories a day. We were covering over 100. Obviously, the gallery was the biggest I have ever worked in.”

RELATED: Deadline Contenders Television 2024 Arrivals & Panels Gallery: Tom Hiddleston, Lily Gladstone, Maya Rudolph, Kali Reis, Jodie Foster, Kurt Russell & More

Said Hay: “It’s a bit like a Game of Thrones or Band of Brothers — the storylining is just not predictable. Surprise and rug-pulls were so at the heart of the drama that we realized this could be a thing only this show could do. Once you embraced that, it became exciting.”

Squid Game: The Challenge was a huge hit for Netflix, watched more than 20 million times in its launch week. A second season has been ordered. The challenge for the producers now is finding a way to supersize the biggest reality TV show ever produced.

Check out the panel video above.

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ settings: { plugins: { pmcAtlasMG: { iabPlcmt: 1, } } }, playerId: "1d932e57-b397-4448-b4b7-d30563744457", mediaId: "2b1699ac-e064-4ef6-abec-53661bc487eb", }).render("connatix_contextual_player_2b1699ac-e064-4ef6-abec-53661bc487eb_7"); });

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.