So Ji Sub appeared with this short haircut. He oozed a macho charm that was different from the image of Joo Goon [t/n: his character’s nickname in “Master’s Sun”] that made women’s hearts flutter. He had this free mindset only a man in his 30’s can have and it was different from his taciturn image. And even after replying to a question, he was lost in his thoughts for a moment and added something else. As he confessed himself he felt that his acting was a lie during the latest award ceremony he attended, he said that he hoped he would leave first the impression to be “an actor” now rather than being called “a star”.
You had 7 different styles for this photo shoot. Which one did you like the best?
My favorite was the simple one. The knitwear one was comfortable. I’m not the type to care what other think about the way I dress. I like clothes comfortable to wear. Sometimes I wear training suits. I also wear shorts in winter. Today, I wore longs pants under shorts. Most of the clothes in my closet are black.
You shot your first romantic comedy last year.
It was a challenge for me. I wanted to try something different. I wanted to break away from the usual acting I show or from my image, the usual vibe I give off, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t worry about having a light image. If anything, my worry was “will I be able to portray this character well?”. I was very awkward at first and people watching probably felt that it was awkward too. Fortunaly, it doesn’t seem that I brought harm to this drama. Besides, Gong Hyo Jin is naturally good at romantic comedies.
The way Joo Joong Won spoke was very special too.
It was a romantic comedy, so it wouldn’t have been fun if I had said my lines in a normal way, so I used a different way of speech. I thought a lot of people would make a comparison with Cha Seung Won-sunbaenim in “Best Love”, but if I hadn’t done it this way, the character would have been dull. It’s exactly the same for his hand gestures.
You gave off a brighter feeling after “Master’s Sun”.
It’s clearly the influence of this project. In the past, I tried to talk more, but now I’m kind of making a compromise to focus on communication. I usually don’t speak, but I’ve realized that it makes things uncomfortable for the people I’m facing.
People you worked with testified that you unexpectedly have a funny/interesting personality.
That’s the way I must be when I’m working on a project. If I’m not, other people are uncomfortable. My relationships with other people must be good, it helps a lot when I’m acting. Now that it’s something that I’m aware of, I’m trying to talk more. If the actor playing the lead role just sits still, the atmosphere isn’t good.
At the SBS Drama Awards, you lived up to the nickname “magician fashion”.
Like I said during the broadcast, I just picked out something at home and I went out. I didn’t wear make-up. When I’m not filming, I usually don’t have a stylist and I don’t wear make-up. If I were expecting to win an award, that’s definitely not how I would have dressed. (smiles) I also thought I looked like a magician. The hat I wore is a gift a fan gave me a few years ago.
I don’t know if someone subbed it, but he basically says what you can read in his next answer.
You confessed that you were in a slump.
I’ve been leading this actor life for 20 years, so it seems that I’m experiencing “growing pains”. It started right before “Ghost” and these thoughts are still going today. I felt that I couldn’t control my acting the way that I wanted to. I wonder why I felt this way although acting was something that I had been doing for so long. I felt awkward doing something new. That’s because acting becomes a struggle once you get some experience. I was depressed. I was even scared. Saying that my acting was a lie was truly my honest feeling. Acting is 99% of lie and 1% of sincerity. How to reduce the 99% of lie is the question for me. I feel like I never managed to do so. That’s why I thought my acting was a lie and I expressed it this way.
I couldn’t imagine you having this kind of concern.
Anyone worrying about something falls into a slump. It’s a vague categorization, but I think there’s a transition period between being a star actor and being just an actor. I think I’m caring and worrying about trying to be an actor. As a simple example, it’s like DiCaprio hating his image, so he put on weight to break away from it.
You also showed us a cute pose during the awards ceremony.
If it weren’t for this brief moment, the mood would have been awkward. Because we went there to have fun, I think I would have done more if I had been given more time. The vibe I gave off with this outfit was “today, I’m an entertainer”. It was like “I’m able to make people happy and bring them enjoyement”.
You have a charismatic image. Can you portray a character that would ruin this image?
I have no fear. When “Master’s Sun” started being broadcasted, it was awkward, but I think I pulled it off after time passed by. The scrip is important, and ruining this image is fun.
In “Infinite Challenge”, you recently showed some slapstick humor like cheek slapping.
When you go on a variety program, it’s only faire to match the variety style because you don’t go out there to keep your dignity. I like slapstick comedy. If I go on this show again, I think I’ll do it this way again. It’s not fun if you hit weakly, so the hits were strong at some point. I said I’d come again on the show if they call me and I will keep my promise if I match the concept.
He’s soooooo cute. I want to hug him.
How about filming another variety program?
It seems that I will think it over a little. I already had connections with the “Infinite Challenge” team, so they always mentioned me. They always sent food to my filming sets and cared about me. Of course I’m close with (Jung) Junha-hyung. That’s why I don’t mind going on this show. If it’s for regular variety programs, I have a hard time because I feel out of place.
I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years since your debut.
I debuted as a “Storm” model in 1995. Then I filmed the SBS drama “Model” in 1997. I’ve been an actor half of my life. That’s why I’ve been thinking about it as the job of my life. I don’t think acting was my vocation. For me, it was more about making efforts than being inclined to be a TV actor. I think it’s been draining me out. I feel like I experienced many things, got filled up and used it all. When I’m acting, I feel like I’m empty and there’s this void inside of me and it feels like I’m doing things mechanically, technically and it’s actually quite frustrating. It feels like I have no sincerity. It’s something I’ve been worrying about for 2 years and I guess it went away naturally at some point.
It’s surprising that you have such worry although you have a long career.
People say it takes about 10 years to become an acting expert, but I think that’s absolutely not the case. When I say to my sunbaes that I’m having a hard time, they say time is the cure. They say nothing good comes when you worry too much about things and time will pass. All of my sunbaenims also worry about acting. When I was in my 20’s, it felt like I didn’t really know what it was about and being in this spot now feels very awkward. Age aside, when I’m on stage with my friends, I wonder if this is where I should be. I wonder if the right thing to do wouldn’t be to give this spot to my younger friends and to think about taking another direction. It’s not that I disregard the fact that I’m called “a star”, but I wish I was someone who had this “feels like an actor” vibe.
What’s the meaning of 51K which is the name of your agency?
It’s a number I like. I think nothing is perfect in this world. I always think about the 49 percent and I’m always running forward to reach the 51 percent. K means “kingdom”. It’s my ambition to establish my own kingdom. Joo Goon was the CEO of a shopping mall called Kingdom. It was supposed to be called Castle at first. I asked the writers if they changed it because they knew about it [= his name’s agency], but they said they wrote it without knowing.
It seems that you like music a lot.
Should I call it my escape? I do it because I like it. If I thought about it as work, I wouldn’t be able to do it and it’s something I want to keep doing. Although it happened only a few times, it’s fun to be on stage and meet directly the audience. I think I know why singers go on stage. I think it’s fun like acting but in a different way. I’m thinking about releasing an album this year.
Your recent project was a drama, how is your health?
To be really honest, I felt that my stamina was running short a little. (smiles) A year ago, I filmed a drama for 5 or 6 months and I was totally exhausted. Actors portraying lead roles sleep for 2 hours, sometimes just one hour. There are many times when we film a scene right after waking up. When we reached the second half of the filming process, I’d just do thing mechanically and there are times when I don’t even know if I’m acting or if I’m just a robot. However, movies have their downside too. It’s hard to maintain the same emotion because filming goes at a slow pace. Dramas are difficult and exhausting to shoot, but the tempo is fast, so you get to keep the same feel. Even if I’m sleeping, the feeling stays.
Do you often go to the US?
I like travelling and I have nowhere to go here, so I sometimes go to the US. I’m really at ease in Koreatown and far away places. I don’t wash my face for two or three days, I go outside sometimes to eat. This kind of freedom is nice. Up to a few years ago, I was fine When I came back to Korea, but now you have smartphones, Twitter, so it’s a bit suffocating.
I watched “Infinite Challenge” and working out is your daily life.
When I have no schedule, I wake up, I eat, I exercise, then I go home. Exercising is my life. It’s natural that an actor looks healthy for the viewers and the audience. A healthy mind, a healthy body, I think it’s a good thing. Exercising is a big part of my schedule, but to be honest, I actually hate it. It’s exhausting to spare 3 to 4 hours for it every day. Still, I exercise nearly 6 days of the week.
Actor Kwak Do Won recently revealed that your [Kakaotalk] profile picture is a hamburger set.
I’ve been working for a while and I know I must be a certain weight to look good on screen. I keep reaching and losing my target, so when I’m trying to reach it, I must go on a diet. When I’m doing pictures or when I’m working and it shows, it’s really painful and hard to deal with. I put on some weight lately, about 7 or 8 kg. I think it’s my first time taking pictures with this weight.
This image gives the impression that you don’t eat hamburgers, what kind of food do you like?
I like greasy food, so when I eat, I put on weight right away. Is there any food you don’t think about when you’re on a diet? Jjangjamyeon, ramyeon, tteokbokkie, chicken, hamburger. I’m exactly like anyone else.
You’re in your late 30’s. Don’t you think about getting married?
People around me talk a lot about marriage and I also want to get married. I will if I meet the right person. Can’t you not hide when you’re dating these days? If I get a girlfriend, I will be the one talking about it first. I’m not at an age when I need to hide it. I hate being alone, but I also enjoy it sometimes. I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing to find a friend I can spend the rest of my life, someone I can rely on, someone who will always love me and take care of me. When I think I might get married after I turned 40, I think it’s something I can’t control and that has nothing to do with my will. I’m starting preparing for it, so if I find someone nice, I will get married.
Is there something you’d like to say to finish this interview?
Now that I’m also going to be 40, I wish that all of you would enjoy life and be happy and have fun. You work hard now to be happy later, but if you’re not happy with what you do now, will you be able to be happy later? I hope you will work and be happy, be healthy while enjoying the present.
t/n: this photo shoot was so… weird lol. Unforgettable. This is the last So Ji Sub interview for now. I’m tired so I will make another post before the end of the year about what I like about him. (you know I’m really exhausted when I don’t even have the energy to fangirl and he does make me want to fangirl, but we’ll save this for later.
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com