Rick & Stephen On Friendship Versus Competition

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Squid Game: The Challenge.


  • The reality competition spin-off of Squid Game, titled Squid Game: The Challenge, faithfully captures the iconic aesthetic of the original series.
  • Stephen and Rick’s unexpected friendship on the show was a delight to witness, but unfortunately, it made them easy targets for elimination.
  • Rick contemplated getting a Squid Game-themed tattoo to commemorate his experience, but the secrecy surrounding the show prevented him from doing so. Both contestants struggled emotionally after their respective eliminations.

Squid Game: The Challenge brings the world of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s gripping drama series into the arena of reality TV. The unforgettable aesthetic of Squid Game has been realized with startling accuracy for its reality competition offshoot, from the giant Red Light, Green Light doll to the Dalgona cookies with shapes in the middle. With the first batch of Squid Game: The Challenge episodes now released onto the platform, the show’s twists, turns, and eliminations are ready to be discussed.

Alliances are key in reality competition shows, and one of the most fun Squid Game: The Challenge relationships to see develop was the one between Stephen and Rick. The friendship that developed between Stephen, a father and moving company owner who arrived on the show with his best friend, and Rick, an orchid grower, beekeeper, and devoted grandfather, may have seemed unlikely at first, but the good-natured humor of both men made them seem a perfect fit for each other. Unfortunately for them, that made them a target, and both Rick and Stephen were eliminated in a game-twisting test set between recreations of iconic Squid Game challenges.

Related: Why Fans Are (Or Aren’t) Looking Forward to Squid Game: The Challenge

Rick and Stephen discussed tattoos, their unfortunate downfall, and their time on Squid Game: The Challenge.

Rick And Stephen Talk Squid Game: The Challenge

Screen Rant: First things first. Rick, did you get a tattoo celebrating the game? We saw you talking about it.

Rick: Well, you know, I planned it, right? But then they keep saying, “Don’t tell anybody you’ve been on the show.” So putting the tattoo on my arm with my number [didn’t make sense]. And everybody is asking me, from the company, “Did you get it?” Well, I started yesterday. Eight hours’ worth. It’s not colored. I don’t know if you can see it.

Oh, I can see it.

I have “Gganbu Gang”, the calling card, player number 232, Red Light, Green Light, I got the circle that I had, the umbrella… it’s going to have a little bit more, too.

That’s incredible.

Stephen: Absolutely incredible. Rick, you inspire me in every single way. Oh, my goodness. I would never be brave enough to do anything like that.

Rick: This is going to be taken to the grave with me.

Stephen, I know you showed up at the game with your friend Chase, who then got eliminated right away. How did that affect you mentally for the rest of the experience?

Stephen: Oh, my goodness. I’m needy. I’ve come to figure out that I am very needy. When he was gone, I was just like, “Dang it. I don’t even want to be here, but 4.56 million…” I had a lot of internal conflict after that. But hey, I powered through it and got much farther than most people.

It’s crazy because you need people around you to emotionally handle this stuff, and then at the same time, you’re competing with them. For both of you, it’s you got eliminated because of your friendship. What is it like to have built that relationship that is really helpful, and then also have that lead to the downfall?

Stephen: Oh, that was a stab in the heart, dude. I know, the whole time, I was trying to stay near Rick and do what I could to get not only myself but [also] him as far into the show as possible. Getting eliminated in spite of that… that one got me right in the heart.

Rick: I still have trouble shaking that one off. I’m glad I had the friendship. Maybe that was a handicap, [but] doing it again, I would still find a Stephen out there. I kept thinking my age [and] size [were] going to be my strength. “No one’s going to pick this old man to leave.” I really thought that. And, boy, I thought I would lose on my own. A bad luck situation. A bad number. A bad something. But I never thought, because I’m mostly a nice guy—

Stephen: You were too nice, Rick. You were too charming. People were gravitating around you, such as myself, and people noticed it. And that’s kind of on us.

Rick: I just didn’t think I’d be chosen. And she had every right; no fault, no blames, no anger. Just… I can’t shake it off.

Stephen: I’m not happy about it [Laughs].

That makes sense. As a viewer, it was heartbreaking, because we love you from watching the show. There’s this crazy moment where you walk into the kitchen and you’re playing Ddakji without knowing that you’re being watched. Then, Stephen, you lose the game. Can both of you talk about that experience? It seems like nobody had any idea what was coming next, and that was a really good example of how stressful that whole thing must have been.

Stephen: I was so in the moment just hanging out with Rick, having fun, and just exploring [to] see if we can find any clues that it never crossed my mind that that was a game that could get you eliminated. Whenever he ran up on me talking about whatever he did, I was like, “Holy crap.” I forgot. I was literally living in the moment, hanging out with Rick, and completely forgot about the game.

Rick: I hear over the loudspeaker, “Player 232, please report to the chore room.” That was my second time, and then [they said], “Bring a player with you.” I said, “Hey, Stephen, let’s go.” It wasn’t like, “Who am I going to take here?” It was, “Hey, Stephen, let’s go.” And we went in—

Stephen: That was against my strategy, however, but since Rick said it, I’m doing it.

Rick: Well, thank you. And then he found the Ddakji cards; I was looking for a chore to do. He found those cards, and I’m an expert at that one. I’d been practicing. So, I’m showing him how to do it, and I hear, “Player 232, you won,” which means there’s a loser. And in that situation, losers sometimes don’t come back.

Stephen: My heart dropped.

Rick: I thought, “Oh my gosh. If I leave that room by myself, how am I going to tell the other players? I’m going to look like a bad guy.” That was real tough.

Stephen: Especially eliminating your best friend.

Rick: That would have ruined the game for me. There would have been no more joy for the rest of the series.

Stephen: I’m happy for how it turned out, but damn, that was emotionally way too much going on.

Rick: I thought you were going, Stephen. I thought that was it, and I was responsible for that.

Stephen: Oh, I was about to cry.

About Squid Game: The Challenge

456 real players will enter the competition show in pursuit of a life-changing reward of USD $4.56 million. As they compete through a series of games inspired by the original show – plus surprising new additions – their strategies, alliances, and character will be put to the test while competitors are eliminated around them.

Check out our other Squid Game: The Challenge cast interviews:

The first batch of Squid Game: The Challenge episodes were released to Netflix on November 22nd. They will be followed by new batches on November 29th and December 6th.

Source: Screen Rant Plus


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button