LeeByung-HunMagnificent Seven star Lee Byung-Hun may not be a household name in the U.S., but he’s one of South Korea’s top actors. He was recently honored with a Star Asia Award at the 15th annual Asian Film Festival at Lincoln Center Tuesday night.

Lee has had a long career to date; he made his debut 25 years ago. Recently he has gained recognition from his most recent role in Inside Men, a slick political thriller underscoring the country’s corruption through the alliance of media, politics and large corporations. He played the role of An Sang-hu, a thug attempting to get revenge on an influential columnist, it was considered his best performance ever and a character that outshone the rest of the cast.

“When I first read the screenplay, I thought An Sang-gu was portrayed as a stereotypical thug, very rough and simplistic… and because [the film] was such a tightly plotted screenplay, I felt there wasn’t a lot of room for the audience to breathe…”  Lee said during his sit-down interview with FORBES ASIA. “So I wanted to add more color to [An Sang-gu] and inject more humor into his character.”

In February Lee became the first Korean to present an award at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles; he did it with widely known actress Sophia Vergara. “Although I was there as a presenter, it still felt like a dream come true,” he said.

He is enjoying his rise in popularity with an upcoming role in the highly anticipated remake The Magnificent Seven, in which he stars as the assassin Billy Rock, alongside Hollywood Heavyweights Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. He hopes that the film can be his breakout film in Hollywood and show the world his impressive talent that he showed in the Inside Men. The film comes out September 23.