[February 2016 – Marie Claire] Ha Ji Won & Bolin Chen – Interview

Marie Claire - Ha Ji Won

Ha Ji Won

I was a bit worried because of the couple rumor that came out suddenly, but you showed your coolness in the way you supported this couple photo shoot.

And what’s even worse is that the article was released the day before the photo shoot. (smiles) There’s also this special atmosphere at the film set when it’s about a man and a woman. It’s not like Bolin Chen and I were aware of something and were awkward, so we just filmed while having fun like two friends. I thought this photo shoot was an extension of the movie.

Bolin Chen said in a Japanese interview that the two of you were similar on many things. Do you agree?

We have many things in common indeed. Like our taste in cookies. (smiles) On the filming set, it was only a Korean staff, so there might have been a lot of difficult and frustrating stuff happening for him, but Bolin became friend with each member of the staff by keeping an open mind. It’s not something easy to do, so he seemed like someone searching for his own life on set. I learned a lot from him.

Before we came to Aomori, I looked up your name on portal sites. There was this sentence on the first page: “Ha Ji Won an actress whom people, men and women, trust and watch”. It’s not common for an actress to receive the loyalty and the love of the female audience.

I think I played nice roles. My most important criteria when I’m picking a project is “do I want to live in this story right now?”. Most of the female characters in the stories I like aren’t characters relying on men or waiting for love. They usually have the tendancy to achieve things on their own. After watching a movie or a drama, they say I’m like possessed by the words. I think I portrayed characters I could easily get into through my own perspective. The stories weren’t about getting jealous when being loved by a male character, so there’s this excitement that it’s my own stuff. It’s a great satisfaction. I think I never stood in front of a camera while being unprepared acting-wise. I wanted to do everythin perfectly, even if it was one action movement or a dance move. It’s important for me to enjoy my acting life, but I never treated carelessly the natural responsibility you must have when you’re a pro.

There are some people who overwork themselves under the obligation called “the actor’s responsibility”. How about you?

I don’t spare my energy, not even a little bit. Some may call it “overworking myself”, but I had many scenes in the 51-episode drama “Empress Ki”. We filmed in the mountains in winter, so I had 20 hotpacks on me and pulled all-nighters 5 nights in a week. My body hurt so much when we reached the last phase of filming that I couldn’t even walk. I felt like my feet were floating in the air. What was fascinating was that I got this superhuman energy in this moment of reaching my limit. There was no NG. Even when I had a lot of lines to say, I got them right in one take. Should I say I personally experience the infinite capacity of the human body? (laugh)

It seems that this tendancy also shows in your daily life. There are countless rumors in the entertainment world saying you’re an actress always stepping aside.

During my 20’s, I went back and forth only between filming sets and my home. To be honest, it hasn’t been a few years since I started going out into the world. (laugh) I thought I shouldn’t go outside. I started drinking alcohol outside of my place in 2009.

How do you enjoy this life of stepping into the world?

I figured out how my life could be fun too. When I was done with a project, I wondered why I had no fun into returning to being me. I think that’s why I decided in a hurry to live my life as someone else and wanted to live this way. However, I find pleasure in my own life now. There are big and little problems arising for actors who can’t leave a character or can’t return properly to their own lives. In the past, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to leave the character and that I would struggle that I purposely didn’t try to make horror movies. However, I think I can do it now, even if it’s a just a little bit. That’s because I realized that, even if I go through a hard time after a project is over, I can be happy as Ha Ji Won, I’m more at ease as Han Ji Won.

Marie Claire - Ha Ji Won et Bolin Chen

Chen Bolin

How was your first encounter with Aomori?

It has a nice peaceful atmosphere. I feel like I’m slowly filling up some voids and I’m getting healed. I shot 5 projects for the past year. Every time, I met new people, I talked a lot. That’s why it was a bit stressful not to have time for myself.

And two out of them were shot in Korea. “Life-Staking Love” and “Bad Guys Always Die”. I think you probably needed more energy because you were filming in an unfamiliar environment.

I frequently crossed over between English, Chinese and Korean. Sometimes, I even felt like I had multiple personalities. (smiles) However, I enjoyed this confusion. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter to me which country the movie is being produced by. The way I like the project depends of the movie genre and the director. It doesn’t depend of the filming environment or process. And besides, I’m forever a learner. I enjoy studying a new culture or a new language, so it wasn’t tough all the time. And of course, being in a new environment and around new people gives me energy and enthusiasm.

How did you end up choosing “Life-Staking Love”?

Ha Ji Won plays a mystery writer, Chun Jung Myung plays a Korean police officer and I play an agent from the FBI. The story is about the three of them ending up being linked to an incident. It’s a mystery romantic thriller. Usually, when you explain a movie, there’s this feeling like it’s from a movie you’ve already seen like there’s a similar narrative or a similar genre or similar influences, but it’s impossible to do that with “Life-Staking Love”. I definitely don’t have the impression I’ve seen a movie like this somewhere else. It ‘s a movie standing in its own category. It’s unprecedented to watch a mystery romantic thriller.

What kind of actress is Ha Ji Won?

When you’ve been an actor for 10 or 20 years, there’s the risk of considering all filming projects as the same and of falling into dogmatism. Because it’s difficult to find something you’re not familiar with, you’re clumsy about or something just new. On the contrary, Ji Won always sparkles. Even when the camera is off. She’s someone who studies new things to make them hers because she’s full of curiosity and affection. She has no hesitation. Although she has already achived many things, she keeps going as if to prove to herself she can still improve. I also look for this mindset, so just like we were similar about this, we had a lot in common.

It’s been ten years since your debut. Wasn’t there a time when you were able to guess the good roles?

Acting is about preparing and developing something somewhere it can’t be seen, but the next part is the viewers’ responsibility. Even if it was about me being a good actor, if I hadn’t been able to be recognized for that, acting would be meaningless for me as a job. It’s about becoming someone to make people want to see. I do worry about showing good acting, being a good actor, but just like any other fine art, I don’t think you can judge by comparison. It’s only about what the audience will prefer in the moment.

How do you want to age as an actor?

I wonder if I won’t be a father about 20 years for now, so I might be shooting movies I can watch with my children. Like Johnny Depp played Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, I think I will choose my projects in order to show them to my children. Of course, I will be ambitious about portraying stories taking a discreet peek at a human being or some heavy philosophical themes, but becoming the best actor or an international actor isn’t my goal. Deep meaning aside, I want to become a well-rounded actor who portray various roles. That’s what life is about. We know red ginseng extract is good for our health, but we still drink cola once in a while. It’s only about finding the right balance between the two. I don’t want to become an actor with one specific style. I want to follow each emotion of every moment in a natural way.

Do not take out.
Do not screencap.

Marie Claire
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com

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