[October 2013 – Allure] Lee Sang Woo – Interview

Allure - Lee Sang Woo

So you begged us to show an evil expression that you don’t show often!

Ah, I wanted to try this kind of expression too, but it’s really not easy. I’ve never really tried this kind of concept in my acting or for a photo shoot, so I think it made things even more difficult.

I noticed that you didn’t monitor any of your pictures during filming.

I can’t look at my pictures. I’m embarrassed and I’m shy. I purposely didn’t look at them because it would have made me lose my self-confidence.

Many pictures came out nice, please look at them before you leave.

I won’t. I’ll see them when they’re published. [t/n: technically he says “I’ll read a book” which was weird in this context, right?]

Are you busy filming a drama these days?

Yes. We’re heading to the last phase of filming. Scripts are coming without delay, so filming is going smoothly. The basis of ratings is if the scripts are coming out well or not.

What did you like about Kim Hyun Woo, your character in “Goddess of Marriage”?

The writer is Jo Jung Seon whom I filmed “Believe in Love” with. She contacted me one day and said she wrote the character of Kim Hyun Woo with me in mind. At that point, she only had an overall picture and there was no precise detail about the plot. I was thankful that she wrote her scenario with me in mind, so there was no worry to argue about.

So it was because you lived a one-sided love in “Believe in Love”. Are you really similar to the character Kim Hyun Woo that was written with you in mind?

We’re similar about some things at some extent. And we’re different about other things too. There are also times when I’m frustated about Kim Hyun Woo as much as the viewers are frustrated with him. Like he can’t do things like this or like that.

Hyun Woo approaches Ji Hye like it was destiny, then he lets her go. What choice would you have made in real life?

I wonder if I wouldn’t have done the same thing as Hyun Woo. It would have been idealistic for the scenario to go “let’s forget everything and just run away”. It’s not easy to do such thing in real life. I think I would have also let her go and live with regrets.

There’s also one scene in this drama when you show your body once again.

I think I’ve had a swimming scene in nearly every drama I did. My nickname is “the drama swimmer”. I learned how to swim as I filmed dramas.

It seems that writers feel the urge to strip you off when they see you.

Every other drama, I also have a scene where I take off my clothes. Like it takes turns between taking a shower, being in a swimming pool, running.

Your swimming scene in “Goddess of Marriage” is quite long.

It looks like I’m good at swimming, but I really can’t swim in real life. I don’t know how to breathe while swimming. I keep my head out of the water, so I got the nickname “dog paddle”. When I put my head under water, my body sinks. That’s why editing is so important for my swimming scenes more than any other scene. Once again, they made a good editing and I appeared on screen as someone who can swim. The actors and staff on set laughed at me and teased me.

Still, filming scenes including nudity must be stressful, right?

To be honest, I don’t work out that much. I like eating, so I exercise in order to be able to eat what I want. I usually do as much as going to the health club and nothing more. If I have a scene where I show my body, I control what I eat and I exercise a few days before filming. That’s how my muscles come out.

You’ve played a lot of gentle and nice characters. I think you must be a good guy too in real life. Is it really the case?

I’m trying to be someone like that. I want to become somone who is honest and considerate.

Do you ever think about breaking this gentle and nice image of you?

It’s not something that I do intentionally, but I’m usually a bit different when I drink. When there’s a huisik, I keep talking with the other actors and I have fun. People think we’re close and the next day when they talk to me, I greet them politely. There’s a waiter I know very well at the noraebang I often go to. When I walk in, I always greet him politely and when I walk out, I say “hey” and I hit his back. It’s actually embarrassing because it happened many times. When I drink alcohol, I strangely become more confident and I can speak comfortably and my voice is louder. I guess it must be a funny thing to see because people encourage me to drink fast.

I also wonder how you change.

Problem is I unexpectedly remember everything the next day. It’s quite a torture. I tear my hair out thinking “why did I do that?”. I’m trying to cut back on going to bars because it comes with a big cost the next day. Like my body feeling heavy, the need to work out more, worrying about any possible mistake I made toward someone else. I’m the type to try my best to listen when I meet new people at a bar.

Is there someone you have a drink often with?

I’m close with Song Chang Eui-hyung and Lee Sang Yoon. We became closer as we filmed “Life is Beautiful” together. We’re actually quiet people, but Chang Eui-hyung speak a lot while Sang Yoon speaks even less than I do. I like playing the 369 games. Fortunately, they like it too so, so we often play. We were playing just the three of us and we managed to go over 300 once. It’s hard to reach this number if one person misses his shot, so we’re kind of good, yes. Haha.

If it had been a drunk photo shoot today, would you have shown a more confident expression?

To be honest, I tried once. I showed confident expressions I don’t usually do, tried to look daring and the outcome was very bad. It was something exciting just for me. From that day, I never did a drunk photo shoot ever again.

While looking at the time you’ve been working as an actor, the number of interviews and photo shoots you did is extremely low. Is it because it makes you uncomfortable?

To be honest, I don’t really like it. Especially when I first started working, I didn’t know what I was supposed to say and I didn’t have much to say either. When I’m working a project, I just want to focus on this project. However, as time goes by, I think I need this kind of time for myself.

You need more time not just for photo shoots or relationships or anything else that you do?

Yes. I think so. I think a lot and I don’t speak or act before I reach a decision. If I start something, I go all for it and when you take up on a challenge, it can take a very long time to be good at it.

So you enjoy the time you spend on you’re on own.

I’ve been living on my own for a long time, so it’s true I’m used at being all by myself. When I’m at home, I watch a lot of movies. I usually spend my time doing chores around the house. The day just flies by when you wash the dishes, clean around and do the laundry. When my mom wants to come and clean my house, she can’t come. She’s old now and she’s tired… She must have a hard time because of me.

You said filial piety is about letting parents do whatever they want to do.

I didn’t know before, but it’s something I understand as I’m also getting older. That’s why they come over to my house more often than before. It’s not just my parents. I’m caring a lot about people around me and there are times when it really makes people uncomfortable and that creates misunderstandings. When I was in the army, I was dating this girl and I told her not to come and see me. I was worried it’d be too hard for her to go back and forth like that. I said it out of concern for her, but I realized my words really hurt her. I had many episodes like this, so I tell myself not to care in a way that will make things uncomfortable for people.

You have an unusual way to be affectionate. Is there something you’re crazy or obsessive about?

When I was young, I wore gold on my hands and around my neck. It made me feel like I owned the world. I collected small pieces of gold and I turned it into a heavy gold necklace that I put on. However, I sold it because I needed money and I was forgetting about it when this story came up in an interview I made early after my debut. And one day, my fans started sending me a replica made of gold because they had read this old article. Once, I said I liked eating goraebap and saewookkang [t/n: Korean snacks] and boxes of them kept coming in. After that, I stopped answering to questions like this.

Always caring. As they say, fans are similar to their favorite actor. I heard your fans donated money to pay the surgery fees for a kid whose parents couldn’t afford to pay for.

For my birthday, my fans collected money and sent me a pamphlet to say they’d buy something for me. They said to pick something I like. However, I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to pick out something like this. I rejected their offer, so they gathered even more money and they donated this money on my behalf for this kid to get surgery. I was very touched.

What task do you have left as an actor?

Going out was so hard for me before. It was even worse when I attended an award ceremony for an award, I wasn’t even happy. To make it short,
I tried to get rid of this behavior of mine. Right now, I’m much more at ease with this. I wanted to show my fans an image that kept being better and better. I read every fan letter I receive. And they often say this. They’re happy because they feel like my acting is better now than when I debuted and I’m a brighter person. While taking on a new challenge, seeing this image of me give them courage. Words like this are really a big strength for me. When I feel like my fans and I have a mutual positive influence on each other, I tell myself that I did a good job, I’m very thankful and I should keep working.

When you sang “Sturgeon Song” in a variety program, I thought you were a man with a reversal side because it’s an image of you I wouldn’t have ever thought to see in a drama.

I got a fish tank and I wanted to raise something in it. I bought two sturgeons and three crawfishes. I kept them for three years and they died suddenly one day. I was really sad to see this. There was my guitar next to the fish tank, so I made a song about the death of a sturgeon. I didn’t overthink this, so this song came out naturally because of the situation. I raised my sturgeons and my crawfishes, they didn’t grow, they didn’t get babies, there was absolutely no change. I understood why people didn’t raise them. That’s why I have a carp and a goldfish now. I try to avoid things that everybody likes, but what happened made me change my mind and I ended up doing this.

Compared to last year, I didn’t think your guitar skills would be like that.

I’m teaching myself how to play. Although I play constantly, there’s not one single song I can play until the end. There are always three or three complicated codes, so I can’t master these parts and I leave them aside. However, when I make my own song, I make up my own code, so I can complete it. I’m always composing songs. “The Carp Song” is the follow-up to my “Sturgeon Song”.

As a 34-year old man, and not as an actor, what kind of worries do you have?

These days, I find babies absolutely beautiful. Seeing my friends getting married makes me think that the time to do the same is getting closer somehow. This is something I’m thinking about a little bit more compared to before, but it’s not something that should happen right away either.

What do you expect from October?

The drama will be over in October. I haven’t taken a rest until now and I kept filming constantly, so I’m planning to take the time to rest and organize my thoughts. I’m all by myself, so I’m planning to go on impromptu trips. I hope October will bring me this kind of freedom. Fall is my favorite season. That’s why I’m anticipating it.

Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.wordpress.com


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