'If you think you're sexy, you're delusional'
The Maze Runner's Ki Hong Lee on being named No. 4 sexiest man by magazine
It's easy to understand why Ki Hong Lee came in at No. 4 on People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive last year, behind Hollywood hunks Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt and Jamie Dornan.
The Korean-American actor - who made his feature film debut as Minho in last year's hit dystopian actioner The Maze Runner as sassy hothead Minho - has charm aplenty and a great sense of humour.
And there are those dimples, which he thinks are "flawed muscles" and "nature's mistake".
Lee, 28, is with M at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about the upcoming sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, which opens here on Sept 10.
But first, we have to talk about the sexiness thing, which makes him all awkward.
"That to me is the weirdest thing, because I don't look in the mirror and go, yeah, I'm sexy. I'm pretty sure no one does that, and if you do, I think you're extremely delusional. My wife (actress Hayoung Choi) said Minho is sexy, but not you, not so much.
"I think Minho's such a cool, badass character, but I think it's more Minho than me. I get scared very easily, so if a Crank (someone infected by the Flare virus and who loses his sanity in The Maze Runner) in real life were to surprise me in a dark alley somewhere, I would just run away," he said.
The Scorch Trials picks up where the first movie ended, and the action is non-stop.
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers (played by Ki, Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster) search for clues about the mysterious and powerful organisation known as WCKD and face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
Lee, who was born in Seoul but relocated to Los Angeles with his family when he was eight, explains how he doesn't stop running in the sequel.
"It's about us going from one place to the next, it's just a chase, running away from WCKD, or running away from Cranks."
Filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the actors had to attend pre-production boot camp, and for the athletic Lee, that wasn't a problem.
"We ran up and down Albuquerque hills, like two or three miles a day, just to get used to the altitude. Also because we knew that we would be sprinting up sand dunes, we just wanted to be ready. We practised hanging upside-down for certain things, and feeling okay with the blood rushing to our heads...
"I've always liked doing physical things, so for me to get paid and also to work out has been great."
But sand was a problem.
"I didn't like the sand in my face. We would be out in the desert in the sand dunes and we would have these big fans that would roll right before the takes, so it looks like it's windy. The sand would just get everywhere and it would get in my ears and my eyes and nose and you would taste it and have that crunchy feeling. For days."
Nevertheless, it was a joyous reunion for the cast as they all got along particularly well.
"When my wife visited the set she would be like, 'you guys always hang out with each other like 24/7, like you guys just spent the whole day together working, and you want to hang out more afterwards?'
"But that's just who we are and we really genuinely enjoy each other's company and I couldn't be more lucky."
So we have to talk about Choi, his co-star in a short film he made in 2013. The couple wed in March this year.
"My wife was there with me before I had anything. Before I started acting, I worked at my parents' restaurant, which was one of the darkest times because I hated life and I hated working there, and she was there from that moment.
"And also I am a very difficult person to be with, in my opinion, and so all my former roommates at my wedding were like 'yeah, thank you Hayoung, for marrying Ki Hong, because he is difficult'. So I am just very, very fortunate to have found somebody."
Lee is particularly grateful to his Asian fans for the success of The Maze Runner - which made over US$340 million (S$480 million) worldwide from a production budget of US$34 million - and he hopes they turn up for the sequel.
"I want to give a special shout-out to all the fans in Asia, because it did amazing in Korea. It beat out Guardians Of The Galaxy and The Hunger Games, which is amazing, so thank you to everyone in Asia that supported the film."