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The Squid Game Set That Actually Scared The Actors

Deadly as the various games in Netflix's "Squid Game" are, many of the stages themselves don't actually seem all that horrifying until the inevitable bloodshed begins. Apart from the iconic, creepy doll, the Red Light, Green Light stage is a pretty nice-looking area, and the fake neighborhood of the Marble Game would be downright cozy if it wasn't for the presence of the gun-toting, masked guards. In fact, except for the living areas and the "real world" locations in Seoul, South Korea, pretty much every set in the reality game show setting of "Squid Game" is colorful and pleasant. Since most of the actors get to wear comfy-looking tracksuits, even their clothes seem pretty cozy. As such, it's easy to think that shooting the show was a fairly fun experience — as long as no one pays attention to the subject matter, at least. Or, for, that matter, minds the copious amounts of fake blood they're slathered with in many of the scenes. 

However, nothing in "Squid Game" is as it seems, and this apparently extends to behind-the-scenes activities. In fact, making the series could get quite disturbing, and one "Squid Game" set in particular actually scared the actors.

The Bridge Game was a genuinely scary experience for the actors

The Bridge Game — or the Glass Stepping Stones, as the game is officially called — is the second to last round in the entire contest, and its luck-based nature and tight time limit make crossing the bridge a nerve-wracking experience for the characters and the audience alike. However, as actress Jung Ho-yeon (who plays Kang Sae-byeok in the show) revealed in a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of "Squid Game," the experience was pretty unnerving for the actors, as well. 

"Filming Glass Stepping Stones was actually terrifying," she said. The set was about one meter [3'3"] above the ground. We put real tempered glass there and ran around on it." The show's creator Hwang Dong-hyuk noted that making the actors worried about the bridge was precisely the point of the set design. "The glass made them nervous," he said. "I think we could express the unnoticed rigidity and fear of the body. It felt like really jumping off a high bridge. The game was real and they felt real fear. Their bodies showed that fear. We think that set had the power of realism."

The video also shows how they filmed the fateful moments of glass breaking underneath a doomed contestant. On some occasions, two burly men held a sheet of tempered glass as an actor jumped on it, and then physically lowered it, creating an illusion of a legitimate fall. You can also see an alternate, far more terrifying set, in which the bridge was a genuinely elevated structure. Luckily, the fall wasn't half as long as it is in the show, and the actor was wearing a wire harness as he took a plunge from the platform. 

Certain other sets were also pretty unnerving

Though the Glass Skipping Stones set seems to have inspired the most dread, it's not the only set that the cast of "Squid Game" found pretty creepy. Strangely enough, some cast members felt that the Marbles playground in the tearjerker episode "Gganbu" was quite unnerving, due to its eerie realism. "The playground felt so real, like the actual back alleys of the past," Park Hae-soo (who plays investment banker Cho Sang-woo) explained. "It was like being in front of the real homes of the past. It created a strange nostalgia and odd tension." According to "Squid Game" Art Director Chae Kyoung-sun, this was by design, and everything about the painstakingly built set was designed to exist in a strange borderland, highlighted by the elaborate sunset effect on the walls. "We thought it should also be a set on the border of fake and real," she said.  

However, at the end of the day, the actors were just as impressed by the elaborate sets as the viewers. "Entering the set the first day, we were busy taking pictures," Lee Jung-jae (who plays Seong Gi-hun) described the cast's first impressions. "The set was almost dreamlike." 

Some of the sets even had extra perks. The unnerving Dalgona honeycomb challenge, in particular, was surprisingly delightful to the senses, thanks to the presence of a Dalgona-making expert who made the fateful treats used in the production. "One of the most memorable was Honeycomb," Jung Ho-yeon enthused, smiling at the memory. "The honeycomb instructor was constantly making the honeycomb in the background. The film set smelled like honeycomb all day long."