During his lengthy career as an agent, David Unger saw there was a future in representing actors from the growing international marketplace. That’s what led to the creation of the Artist International Group in 2019.
Judging by the success of everything from Shang-Chi and Lupin, to Parasite, Narcos, Squid Game, Money Heist and Fauda—and the flood of talent those projects introduced to Hollywood—the move has certainly been validated. Unger and other reps who have leaned into global talent management are finding their clients in high demand, thanks to the need by streamers with stagnant domestic subscription growth to make indigenous series and films.
“I spent 25 years nurturing international voices, and they have never mattered more in this streaming economy,” says Unger, whose international sensibilities came from growing up in London and observing the business from that side of the pond. His father produced Don’t Look Now, and his grandfather owned Charlie Chaplin’s film library.
Unger’s international track began when he signed Chinese actress Gong Li two decades ago. He has since picked up clients such as Michelle Yeoh, who just starred in Everything Everywhere All at Once and the upcoming Avatar sequels. He also has Donnie Yen, who stars opposite Keanu Reeves in the upcoming John Wick sequel, Slumdog Millionaire’s Anil Kapoor, 355’s Fan Bingbing, Ludovic Bernard (Lupin) and Pachinko’s Lee Min-ho, to name a few. Having already achieved proprietary joint ventures in the U.K., France, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Korea, AIG sees opportunities for performers all around the globe.
“We believed the rest of the world was going to matter more, and that talent in these countries would have an outsized prevalence because of what they represent to their domestic market,” Unger says. “That has happened, and it will only continue to grow.”