At a recent PGA Awards event, Steven Spielberg made what would seem like a seismic statement.

He was talking about loving Squid Game, particularly the cast. He saw new faces that were not worldwide stars, and he saw a possibility of new talent succeeding at the highest level, as long as the story carried them. 

Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us. Thank you, Ted,” Spielberg said on a panel at the PGA.

The "Ted" he's speaking to is Ted Sarandos, head of Netflix, who was in the audience.

Spielberg continued, praising their boldness to try something very new, “A long time ago, it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies. Today, it’s interesting, unknown people [who] can star in entire miniseries, can be in movies.”

This endorsement of new faces and opportunities is a very different way than things were done before. Netflix used to be built into the model where they wanted the most famous faces possible for their thumbnails. That way, people were enticed to pick shows that way. But Squid Game proved you could make a star out of anyone if the story was there to rise to the occasion, and if the acting ability followed. 

Spielberg seemed to follow suit, casting Rachel Zegler in her first movie role as Maria in West Side Story.

In fact, many people in that movie were not famous but had experience doing the show on Broadway.

It is often mentioned that if a project or surrounding storyline has recognition, it might be the perfect time to try out new actors in the roles, since the audience usually flocks to the intellectual property. But Squid Game defied that. 

When asked for more, Spielberg did suggest anchoring new faces with at least one recognizable and bankable star. 

“They do need an anchor. If there’s an anchor they’re familiar with, you can surround them with lesser-known faces.”

Squid Game's lead, Lee Jung-Jae, was that anchor. He was a massive South Korean star before breaking out internationally in the Netflix series.

Meanwhile, Spielberg's movie was anchored by Ansel Elgort and Rita Moreno, allowing other stars to shine while still making the studio feel comfortable. But a place like Netflix has less to worry about there. They can take the risks to open up casting because they're not worried about box office numbers at all.

I still think the studios rely too much on stars in order to advertise to people why they should come see the movie. On TV, I do think a concept can bring people in more readily because they can access it from their own homes. The same goes with streaming.  

Let us know what you think of Spielberg's comments and of the idea of casting unknowns—do you think other studios will roll the dice and open themselves up to this possibility?