How did you watch “The Fatal Encounter”?
I watched it after the press conference, I watched it on the premiere day and I watched it again with my friends. I was very satisfied. The third time I watched is was the most emotional moment for me. I think any movie can get good or bad reactions. And I understand that. What people like or don’t like, the thing that makes something entertaining, it’s always different. That’s why I don’t really care about harsh critcism. Harsh criticism is a bit regretful, though.
Some people thought that it was an odd choice when you said you’d portray a killer.
I also thought it was odd when I received this offer. I wondered why they would give this role to an actor like me. The director told me once that I had this boy sensitivity. (laugh) I wonder if it wasn’t because of that. I think he hoped that I would show how Eul Soo has this tender heart, although he lives as a cold-blooded man.
What made you fall for “The Fatal Encounter”?
The “Jung-Yoo-Yeok-Byun” is an historical fact. Many movies talked about Jung Jo. Putting together characters like Jung Jo who really existed and fictional characters like Eul Soo made it more interesting. I think the attracting points for me were how Wol Hye (Jung Eun Chae), the woman he loves, carries a secret in her heart, what Eul Soo thinks as he’s on his way to cut off the King’s head, the complicated connections between the characters.
You worked again with director Lee Jae Kyu after working with him for “King 2 Hearts”.
Lee Jae Kyu told me he would shoot a movie after “King 2 Hearts” and we ended up working together. I’m very happy that we got to work together one more time. Even if just one of us had felt anxious about it, we wouldn’t have been able to work together. I really think he’s a great director. We were able to work together because we trusted each other.
What is Eul Soo’s main characteristic?
When he’s hired to kill someone, he doesn’t see his target as someone like him. He thinks about this person as a target and not as a “human being”. No matter how you like it, I think he can be seen as a pro who shows professionalism. What I saw in him is that Eul Soo is a character who has no other choice but to die, wether he kills the King or not. Still, I wanted him to be convincing about his justification to go and kill the King. I saw Wol Hye as this justification. He’s weighed down by the past. Still, he’s seeking hope, he’s longing for another life. I wanted to reveal the anger he felt when this hope got crushed.
The love story line with Jung Eun Chae wasn’t very big. Wasn’t it unfortunate?
It wasn’t. The scene where they meet for the first time was a bit edited, but the overall flow of their story wasn’t something to be regretful about. It fitted the situation.
You must have been sad because you didn’t get to play with Han Ji Min and Kim Sung Ryung who are actresses with great acting skills.
I wanted to play with all the actors, but it was a role that didn’t require to be with each character. When I read the actors’ names for “The Fatal Encounter”, I thought “Wow, I’m shooting a movie with actors like them”.
Still, I wonder if things went well with Shin Min Ah. (He worked with Shin Min Ah in the movie “My Love, My Bride”)
You can say that again! What about her? Haha. I always went to the set with a smile on my face. (laugh)
The scene where you press a finger to your lips as to keep people quiet when they get killed is short but impressive.
Haha. It’s the aesthetics of editing. It was a scene that required a little bit of camera work, but it appeared this way because they edited the scene well.
The first scene of Eul Soo is about him crossing a river in a boat. This had a big impact. It seemed like the beautiful aesthetics expressed a part of Eul Soo as a character.
It’s the scene that made me fall for the movie and convinced me to take the role. As I was browsing through this part, something just grabbed me. Should I say it was the charm of the scene? When the written words conveyed the scene, it was beautiful.
[This question is about the sword fight scene with Jung Jo (Hyun Bin). There is a lot of technical words and my English fails me here. Basically, they had to use a high speed camera to shoot the scene. Hyunbin and Jo Jung Suk were scared of hurting each other with the sword, so it was a hard and stressful time for both of them.]
Hyun Bin’s muscles back became a hot issue. You also worked out a lot, but it’s unfortunate that you didn’t get to show it.
Not at all. I can’t get a body like this. (laugh) When I read the scenario, there was no scene where I’d show my body, so I was relieved. Clearly, my experience of being on stage helped me a lot for my action scenes. I was also in an acrobatic club, so I’m not on a complete “hopeless” level when it comes to using my body. (laugh) Despite all that, the action scenes were really hard, though.
“The Face Reader” and “The Fatal Encounter” were both historical movies, but the characters you played were completely different. I heard you were under the pressure of changing the tone of your acting.
Hm, I think it changed naturally. I don’t have plans like “I must do this kind of tone”. I think I unconsciously change my acting at some point because I need to match the actors I act with and the scenario. It is hard to figure out exactly the moment when you become your character after going through some kind of process in order to immerse yourself in the character. I think it’s also because I had never played completely different characters like Eul Soo or Paeng Hun.
Which character was the easiest to play between the two?
I don’t know. Isn’t it Eul Soo? It’s stressful to be in charge of comedy. People are convinced that I’m an entertaining person, but I’m not funny. There are times when I’m so boring. (laugh) I’m just someone who enjoys a cheerful atmosphere. Haha.
From “Architecture 101” to “The Face Reader”, “The Fatal Encounter”, you’re on a winning streak.
It’s luck, isn’t it? Even if I like what I do, the box-office result isn’t something you can know beforehand, so I can only be thankful when it’s a hit. When I choose a project, I choose the ones that I think will be fun to do. There are times when projects don’t make me laugh at all, but everybody say it’s funny. There are times when people say “it’s boring”, but I discover some comedy hidden here and there. My choices are based on this criteria.
Even if your heart is 99% sure, there are times when an actor hesitates to pick up a project because of this 1% of doubt left. It’s also true in your case, what is this 1%?
Hm, I don’t know. Nudity? (laugh) I guess so. I think it’s something you must think about a little. Be it the actor or the actress, I think it can be a burden for anyone.
What is your weakness?
The things that hurt my pride. It’s unacceptable. For instance, when I don’t show properly my skills, people make a hasty judgement that can be hurtful. So sometimes, it does affect me. It’s my weakness, but it’s also a driving force. There was a time when I was preparing for a show and the director really mistreated me. In the past. I even thought “If I can’t overcome this, I can’t be an actor”. In the end, the director complimented me and recognized my skills. I think I really sharpen my skills and work hard when I get scolded.
What has been the hardest thing about acting?
If there’s no communication, it’s very hard. Although we speak Korean, there are times when people discuss without understanding what the other says. Shooting a movie or a drama is about people working together. When I was in school, I had a show and I remember this time when I thought I’d go crazy because I couldn’t communicate at all with my partner. We prepared for a semester for this one show. This friend cried every day and I shouted at him/her every day, I was frustrated. Then at some point, I tried my best to change my mindset and I realized that my partner also changed. We had great synergy. On the last day of our performance, this friend started crying before we got off the stage and I actually cried too as I asked him/her “why…why are you crying?”. I realized how communication is important.
You seem to have a big sense of pride, don’t you have any fear about that “failure” that has yet to come?
I don’t. The audience doesn’t have fun while watching me? It’s something I must accept. I’ve already heard it all for my performances on stage. Even if things are working for me now, the day when a project fails will come. If it doesn’t rank in the box-office, I will tell myself “well, I can do better next time”. I think that’s the way to do it. I’m able to act with my mind at ease because I think that’s the way I must live.
What makes you move forward?
Acting. Haha. It really does. Acting is so so much fun. Even if it’s physically demanding, I’m happy. I’m currently rehearsing for a musical. It’s so hard that I feel like dying, but I’m really happy. Even when I’m completely exhausted, I snicker to myself for no reason.
If acting was no fun for you and tiring, it would have been a huge blow.
I think my life would have been gloomy. I would have been very unhappy. I think such day won’t come. No, I mean, I hope such day won’t come. I want to be an actor until I die.
What was the shooting that gave you the hardest time?
I wonder if “The Fatal Encounter” isn’t the number 1… I really thought I was going crazy when I was shooting the action scenes. I really wanted to run away. It was that hard for me. The shooting for the scene when I find my way into the King’s room lasted for three weeks, then the scene once I’m in the room was shot for two weeks. The staff and I would joke about it saying “but when are you going home? It’s so hard. Going back home.”
Even the rain was involved, so you must have been feeling even more this way.
I had imagined the action scenes at some extent when I got cast, but the rain element made it go over what I had imagined. I was freezing, but my body had to be warm for the action scenes. For example, don’t think about it like exercising and getting rained on if it were to rain right now. The action intensity I’m talking about is when the cold was seeping through my bones, but I had to keep on moving all day while putting up with feeling cold and expressing Eul Soo’s feelings at the same time. (laugh)
If you could go back in time, would you do “The Fatal Encounter” again?
I would, but I think we should film it during during a season of the year when it’s less colder. Haha.
Is there something left after you finished “The Fatal Encounter”?
I think people can hurt you, but they can also cure your pain. People are that important. I think what “The Fatal Encounter” left me is the people such director Lee Jae Kyu and the actors that I got to work with.
Original article: tvdaily