I was nervous the day of the interview, so I arrived a bit early at the studio where we would meet. As soon as I opened the door, I freaked out. Lee Soo Hyuk had come even earlier and was already prepared from head to toes. I happily approached to greet him and, just like a sport player, he stretched out his body. His posture was like the one of a swimmer. Lee Soo Hyuk swimming in his first movie wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is hard to pick up the speed the way you want to when you swim in the sea.
“When I was a kid, I took swimming lessons, as well as taekwondo lessons and I learned skating. Swimming is the one I’ve practiced the longest. It was a good opportunity to swim in my first movie. It wasn’t a big movie, so I had no double and there was no safety equipement. I was really on my own, in the middle of the ocean, I even saw mackerels popping up.”
Somehow, it was hard to picture him as a kid because it seemed like Lee Soo Huk was born just as he is right now.
“People didn’t pay attention to me. I played Legos all by myself. When school was over, I ran straight home. Whatever the situation was, I was never the leader type.”
I can’t understand what he means by “people didn’t pay attention to me”, everyone swayed from side to side. Since the beginning of the photo shoot, there were interjections here and there. The photographer inconsciously muttered to himself over and over again “beautiful”. Looking at the photographs uploaded from the camera, the real problem was not which one to choose, rather it would be which ones to give up. As Lee Soo Hyuk didn’t keep the same poses, he didn’t just overflow with energy, he talked brightly and discussed ideas. I told myself he was a passionate person.
Lee Soo Hyuk’s amazing shoes were neatly lined up in a corner of the set. When asked later on, he said his shoe size was 285 [t/n: to my fellow French readers, this is 44 and for US readers, it’s 10.5]. Because of his delicate looks, I had never thought about how tall he was or how big his feet were and it felt different to see it with my own eyes. I asked him how he’d describe his personality.
“I think I’m just a guy. I’m not the deep or strong type. I can’t really smile when I’m in front of a camera.”
Sure enough, when you look up Lee Soo Hyuk on the internet, there’s “smiling picture” as a related term, which shows how much his fans look everywhere to find pictures of him smiling. When you meet him in person, Lee Soo Hyuk does smile a lot. If he moves while trying to strike a pose, he smiles, when he speaks with the photographer, he smiles. He smiles a lot at the staff. Looking at his bright smile when he was on the set even made me want to give it as a gift to his fans. I asked him if he’d reveal more of his daily life and show more of his relaxed daily life.
“I really don’t think SNS are a natural thing for me. I made my Twitter account because I work overseas, I must appeal to others. I’m not comfortable with using cell phones and I can contact my friends this way. But it’s still a complicated thing for me. Writing my thoughts or my opinions, showing my daily life, I’m still awkward about that. That’s because my thoughts keep changing. As I encounter new things and live new experiences, my opinions change because I have a flexible mind. “
Lee Soo Hyuk was honest. He wasn’t the type to beat around the bush. Talking about Twitter with more honesty, he said he also decided to create an account because he was in a strange situation with someone impersonating him and sending violent personal/private messages. Isn’t it an extreme example of morbid curiosity about his personal life? Anyway, it was a good thing that he wasn’t as taciturn as this person from Twitter. His words were short and tasteful, but he never ran out of things to say. He is not picky about food and eats everything. He’s a broad-minded person. He doesn’t know if him being sensitive to self-exposure is because he started working at a young age.
“I was 17 when I got my first job. I didn’t know what I was doing, how things would turn out. That’s because I was young, people took care of me, I was lucky. At that time, I didn’t know what real life was, if you told me to do it again, I don’t think I’d be able to.”
“As I was taking a break from modeling, I belatedly realized how privileged I had been. Because I had an easy start despite ignoring everything about modeling, I felt that I was lacking a lot when I started over as an actor and I still feel this way today. I feel even more terrible when I work with veteran actors. This is how it is for models, this is how it is for actors. This is a job about using yourself. You must do well when the opportunity comes, so you can get a next opportunity.”
“Even without being a good actor, everything in a movie is about what comes from inside of me. Now I want to be natural as an actor as if I were wearing clothes that suited me just right. I have the desire to express something, my energy is building up. I want to find quickly the project that will allow me to release all this energy.”
Aside from his image as a pro and from the time spent in front of a camera, I was curious about how he was when he was relaxed and resting. He is so busy running around, is there a time when he just lets loose?
“While I was preparing for acting, I took a break from modeling to erase my fierce image and I think this was the longest I had ever rested. But I’m not really good at resting. I watch movies, I listen to music, and I go on a trip. I’m really not picky about genres when it comes to movies. Except for horror movies, I watch everything. It’s not that I’m scared, it’s just that horror movies don’t pull me in. However, I really love thrillers. When I pick a movie to watch, I never leave out the ones made by the directors I really liked.” He said that ever since he was a kid, movies have always been his dream. I could feel all at once the passion, the excitement, the eagerness in Lee Soo Hyuk’s voice as he listed the directors and movies he liked.
“Right now, I want to act but, even if it’s not as an actor, I want to stay in the movies world. I’m not saying I aspire to be a director. Either it’s about the art itself or about clothes, I want to study more and stay in this industry for a long time. I thought it was still too premature for me to go to school, so I’ve been putting it off, but I’ll have to go someday.”
Lee Soo Hyuk didn’t miss the part of his cinema dream and he’s making this dream complete, as for his fans they want to see more of his acting. In “The Boy From Ipanema” and “Runway Cop” and the dramas he has filmed, his ability to express himself in a fleeting moment was remarkable. Even when the moment captured by the camera was short, he could express it just through his body language and the angle of his body.
“It might be because I’m still young, or because a lot of the movies I like are movies for guys, I’m attracted by evil roles. I want to try and play the toxic villain in a thriller. Ah, and… although I’m still young, because I was waiting, characters in their early 20’s disappeared. I want to portray one before it’s too late. My goal is to show slowly more various images, but right now I want to wear the right clothes [=role] for me. My acting ability can be good here and there, but I still feel that it isn’t. I want to find the right clothes[=role] and show a good image.”
He often used the expression “right clothes” during the interview. This would be an expression that would naturally be more appropriate when talking about the body. I wanted to hear about his modeling work and the fashion world he was still connected to as much as he loved acting and movies.
“I was very happy that the shows I did in London and Paris went better than I expected this time around. To be honest with you, I was very worried. When I went 5 years ago, it was unfortunate that my understanding about the Asian models or the market was lacking, but it was different this time. I didn’t find out myself, but I heard it from my sunbaes. I realized how important that the 13 new faces list made by “Style Minutes” was. As a model, I couldn’t accomplish everything, so the part of me that was worried relaxed at some extent. I went all alone, you know. Especially in Paris, I spent a month alone. I rented a cute apartment, so I was quite happy. When I’m here, I easily become impatient because of work problems, but a lot of these problems disappeared, so I returned.”
I asked about the dreams right in front of him and thoses further away. Those he cherished as a dream called opportunity.
“I have the desire to express something, I have this energy inside of me when I’m not filming and my break from working is growing longer. I see many things, my blood is boiling, and my energy is building up. Since I can’t express it, I wonder if I should make furniture, maybe I should paint…. My friends and I who share the same worries talk a lot about finding the things to express ourselves. Before I turn 30, I want to have the big project of my life that reveals all this energy. I still have some time, but when I saw how happy Ben Affleck was to win an Oscar this year, I told myself that he looked awesome and it’d be great if I could do the same. Ben Affleck had ups and downs in his career, but he stayed in the industry and created great things.”
I also asked him furtively about relationships. I thought there were things that remained intact and others that changed when you were in a relationship in your mid-20’s.
“I’d be happy to have a girlfriend. Being in a relationship for me is still more about learning something than just having fun. I want to know more about that person, if she’s someone who works in a different field than me, I want to learn about that field… I hope to be in a relationship in which we motivate each other.”
How easily we can be scared by a mask… That’s what I learned after meeting Lee Soo Hyuk. We fall in love with Lee Soo Hyuk over and over again, we are curious about his next steps, the things we want to know in every detail are not because of Lee Soo Hyuk’s mask. It was because of the energy over the mask, his outlook on the world, his dream, whatever you call it, it’s exactly because of the good temperature and the high density. And at the right time, with the right role, the right opportunity, these things will blow up in no time. If so, those who are reading this interview right now will have the secret satisfaction to say “I imagined it, I expected it, and I supported him”.