How was your mood on your way to do this Elle cover photo shoot? I’m not worried when I hear about a photo shoot. I debuted as a model, so I’m used to it now. Still, a cover photo shoot is always hard. It’s the appeal to be among global top models and say “buy me”. When I was a kid, I also bought magazines after seeing the model on the cover.
All through the photo shoot, you gave off this dignified and carefree vibe. It’s the image of you we know. In the past, I thought it was right to go with an open heart for strong concepts and outfits like a model, but now, people remember “actress Gong Hyo Jin” even when I attempt to do stuff like this. That’s why I try to show you the image of a model as well as of an actress. It’s a vibe from Charlotte Gainsbourg’s fashion photo shoot that I won’t dare to imitate. I wanted to show something different, even if it was just in one picture out of 10.
Are there times when you get embarrassed when you see yourself through the camera? There are times when I strike some obvious or crazy poses. Although I did many photo shoots, it’s difficult for me to move my body like I want. I mean I can’t practice practice my poses every day in front of the mirror (laughs)!
Still, what would be your hidden weapon to capture people’s gaze? I can’t compare myself to models. I’m one of the actresses who are tall and who have long arms. If you look carefully, even if they’re short or chubby, people with long arms will have clothes fit them well. Based on Korea’s standards, Lea Seydoux, Chloe Sevigny aren’t thin, but whatever they wear, they’re stylish. And dresses go particularly well with bodies voluptuous like theirs. When I go to an award ceremony and I step out, people go “she’s a paper doll!”, “she’s so pitiful that I want to buy her a meal”. What kind of compliment is that (laughs).
You recently did an ad campagne with Gong Yoo. It was a hot issue. While you make us say “what is that?”, you keep making us wanting to see you. And same goes when you appear in front of the audience. People with straight hair are jealous of people with curly hair and people who have double eyelids like single eyelids. There was also a time when I wanted to become a scene stealer actress. After hearing for five or six years that I was unusual, that I had personality, I wanted to get rid of this image. The audience expects changes from actors. It seemed that I was good at playing ordinary roles, so they don’t see me in this light. It’s true that right now I’m satisfied with what I have. I can lose myself if I try to make what I have bigger to the point it’s considered in a negative way and I try to change. Hating what you have and wishing to have something else make one’s heart ill.
You couldn’t imagine back then you’d be called “Gongvely”, could you? It was luck. I was very embarrassed when I first heard it. People call me this way just like a mother calls her daughter “my princess” (laughs). However, I was elated inside. I thought to myself “I changed my image the way that I wanted to”. I can be like that too! I can do it! It seems that I was being acknowledged for things I did. Still, I think this “Gongvely” is a nickname that comes and goes fast. As time goes by, I think this way more and more.
Your name “Gong Hyo Jin” is sometimes attached to things. The items you use in your dramas are called “Gong Hyo Jin’s lipstick”, “Gong Hyo Jin’s earrings” and they get a lot of recognition. I knew about it because online reporters or my friends send me pictures they call “Gong Hyo Jin st”. At first, I didn’t know what it meant. They said it means “Gong Hyo Jin’s Style”, haha. I think I like this style that people feel comfortable to wear. There’s a sense of familiarity. I have never played a very rich character so far.
Is your taste similar to the audience’s taste? Yes, I think it is. I assume what people will like or will easily enjoy, what will be hard for them to like. And there are also items I want to suggest and if they become popular, I’m inwardly pleased. The high waist bootcut style is an example. I felt comfortable with it and I wore them hoping people would get rid of the skinny jeans that choke their legs. If the items I want become popular, they’re easier to purchase because more products are fabricated. It happened for the choker necklace I wore in “Producers”. It was something hard to purchase in Korea, so I bought it in New York. However, I realized it became commonly seen later on.
What do you think of the “the woman other women want to be” image? When they tell me ‘Unnie, you’re cool’, ‘Unnie, you’re my role model”, I know how they feel. I have always liked Kate Moss ever since I was a kid. She has a strong charm. From my point of view as a woman, she’s really charismatic! I’ve always picked her when I was asked which foreign star I’d like to meet.
And you did meet her. About 6 years ago when I went to the Paris fashion week. I saw Kate Moss at the club. She was charismatic in real life as well. I wondered if I should ask her to take a picture with me, if I should ask for her autograph, but I wasn’t able to. I was afraid to be hurt if sh said no. I mean, I’m a Korean actress (smiles)… [t/n: I think she means that she understands there’s a time to ask for an autograph and it wasn’t one of those times]. Still, I kept glancing at her while pretending to not be interested.
I checked your Instagram and I was able to see that you were indeed a fan of English band The 1975 which you had mentioned in our previous Elle interview. Did you go to their recent concert in Korea just like you wished to? Of course, I did! I also went to their first concert in Korea two years ago. I felt the same way back then, but I was so shy that I couldn’t say a word. I have never like a singer like this. Should I say it reached the point of my interest for Bon Jovi when I was a teenager? I’m more into indie music than mainstream music, so either my friends with a similar taste and I give each other recommandations or I directly find new artists to listen to. I discovered The 1975 after doing some digging. It was when I was shooting the drama “Master’s Sun”. When I was exhausted after filming, watching their live performances gave me energy. You said you interviewed them?
Yes, they said it’s very cool that their first fans have a big heart and are crazy. (laughs) They also said something else that was cool. “As you get older, you dig inside to protect yourself.” Is it always easy for you to make friends? I always hope to belong wherever I go. It’s probably because I’m an Aries. Aries move in groups (laughs). People also think I can become friends with anyone. It’s true. I was someone who was nice to other people and very curious about them. However, I changed once I turned 30. I realized it was exhausting to give all my attention to anyone. Trying to become someone with a lot of connections in this industry requires time and energy. As I tried to be this way, I didn’t have the energy to take care of people I love, people I’m close with and whom I should actually take care of.
Do you feel you have experienced neglecting someone close to you? On one hand, I’ve been working in this industry for a very long time. This job is about working with many actors, a staff to reach the same goal and bring the project to completion. I often went through this experience of being part of a group and having to say goodbye. Every time, I figured out how I should handle it. I say nice words, so I’m not cold nor sentimental. That’s why it was a bit of a sting to hear people call me “Gongvely” (laughs).
What you’ve been pouring your energy into lately? I work out every day. When spring comes, I get the courage to do everything I have delayed until then. I decided which project I would do this year, so it seems I won’t have time to work out, so I’m working out even harder right now. The past two years have been tough on my body because I worked non-stop. To the point I’m even sorry to my body and go “dear legs, I’m sorry”, “dear waist, I’m sorry”. When I reach this state, I wonder if my soul isn’t borrowing my body to live.
The premiere date of “Missing” is set and you will start filming “Single Rider” soon. It’s been a while since you shot a movie, what expectation do you have?
I mostly played nice and round characters in dramas. These were the unnie-next-door kind of roles or “the nice friend at the office” kind of roles. I shot these projects hoping that people would enjoy spending 1 hour of fun while watching TV. Movies made me quench the thirst I felt in dramas. “Missing” was about doing something I had been wanting to try so far. First of all, the atmosphere is very dark and I play a Chinese mother. It wasn’t a common character. Being good at speaking Chinese was very important. On the contrary, I chose “Single Rider” because I wanted a change. I feel like I’ve been doing movies in the way I wanted to. Now, I’m trying to play roles that people will like. In this movie, I play the wife of a man. Compared to my previous roles of the “woman with red cheeks”, “the armpit hair girl”, “the divorcee about to marry a third time”, I will play a very ordinary person (laughs).
As someone who is living her life as a pioneer, do you think you will always be happy? Regardless if it’s something material or not, I always think I can be happy if I don’t long for something. However, it’s something very hard to do.
Is there something you want to own these days? Hm… There isn’t. My current happiness is enough.
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com