[February 2017 – Elle] Lee Sung Kyung – Diary of Me – Interview

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The last episode of “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” is broadcast today. How do you feel right now? We finished filming yesterday, so I haven’t slept yet. The director gave us a plaque and told us we worked hard. As I looked at Joo Hyukie crying, I said “it’s really over”. However, I haven’t realized it yet. I still feel like I will have to rush to the set tomorrow.

How did you come across this role that gave you this heartwarming feeling? When I heard I would have to put on weight because I would portray an athlete, I wondered if I’d be able to do it, what I would do if it was too hard. Even when I read the script, I thought “it’s not funny” (laughs). However, as I moved from one scene to another, I kept saying “what’s entertaining about it” and I read it in an instant. As if I was playing with a doll, the image of Kim Bok Joo, from her styling to the way she speaks, appears in front of my eyes. I wondered if I should accept the role or not. Because I must get a sense of responsibility to act, I couldn’t blindly say “I find it interesting”. However, I didn’t think it over too long. On the contrary, I made up my mind when I thought I had nothing to lose.

It was an outstanding choice. You let go of your beauty and became Kim Bok Joo. Everyone was worried about my looks change. They asked how I would put on weight, how I would do weightlifting, which hairstyle I would get. However, I thought what’s the use if I can’t play in the way that would make people say I look nothing like Bok Joo. Becoming Bok Joo, talking like her, behaving like her, this was my biggest homework. People say I ruined my image, but I don’t think playing Bok Joo is about ruining my image. Even if Bok Joo lacks feminity and isn’t pretty, I thought she was lovely. She’s someone who follows her heart in a sincere way. When she’s happy, she laughs, when she’s sad, she cries, when she’s angry, she screams. She gets caught even when she hides her emotions. I hoped the viewers would see this honest side of Bok Joo. More than getting any reaction about my acting, what I wanted to hear was “Bok Joo is like that”, “Bok Joo is truly lovely”.

And did you reach this goal? Now, people call me Bok Joo. Even when I read comments, I see more the name Bok Joo than mine.

It seems that this role was made for you. You said you tried to become the character, but the character comes also to life because of the actor portraying it. Of course, my facial expressions will be Bok Joo’s. However, it was exciting to start filming and to become Bok Joo when I stepped into her world and people faced me when I was in her shoes. I cared more about the way she talked, about the way she looked than my own image.

How did the world Bok Joo lived in change you? My health was really not great in the early stage of filming. I had to get ready right after finished “Doctors”. On my days off, I practiced weightlifting starting from dawn. Running around like this without taking a break drained my energy. I was really stressed out because I wondered what I would do if I got sick while there were still many days of shooting left. However, my heart became lighter as days went by and I felt more at ease. Portraying a character with honest emotions was a healing process. I became that Bok Joo whose heart beats like crazy when she falls in love, that Bok Joo who mumbles and suffers on her own when she realizes her one-sided crush won’t come true, that Bok Joo who cries a river as she tells her father who is in pain that she’s sorry for not caring about the kimbap he bought her. Experiencing these honest feelings made me feel like I was purifying myself. Although I was obsessed with my looks, I felt more and more freedom. As I got into acting, I worried a lot about my looks and I developed a complex. Portraying Bok Joo made me return to my previous image. I woke up in the morning and I didn’t even worry about my face being swollen. My make-up only took 10 minutes on my way to the set (laughs).

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Is it a character you wouldn’t have been able to do if not for now? It feels like that. Jin Seo, my character in “Doctors, was much older than me. With Bok Joo, I realized it was harder to go back to young and innocent emotions than to pretend to be an adult, to be strong. I don’t know how it will change me. Even if I were to play Bok Joo again, it would be different from the Bok Joo of today.

Through this project, you received the compliment that it was the role of a lifetime. Do you have new challenges? I think the compliments came along because Bok Joo was truly a lovely character. I don’t think it’s because I did something good. Although I don’t know which part of my acting is improving as I’m getting more experienced, I’m still lacking so much that there aren’t many thing I can actually do. If anything, I try my best so more people feel my sincerity, even if it’s just a little. The facial expressions you see people in a documentary aren’t expressive and various like the expressions an actor shows. However, when these people smile or cry, the viewers really relate to them. I think it’s the exact same thing. Isn’t acting about conveying these emotions when you’re sincere?

Let me borrow one line of the drama. “Happiness isn’t about getting medals and becoming a national athlete. It’s practicing weightlifting itself that brings happiness, right?”. So I will ask you if acting makes you happy right now? To a weightlifting athlete, the gold medal is a dream. If the efforts you make for this dream to come true make you happy, you must love what you do. Dreaming of being an actor and hoping to get high ratings, this is also a part of acting and you must love it. I started acting because I quit modelling which was a job precious to me. I wasn’t confident because wanting to study music, wanting to do musicals were things I only have in mind. However, I came across great projects overcoming this limit. I would have had a hard time if I hadn’t loved this job and I hadn’t been determined to do well. I truly want to do well now.

Is “Weightlifter Fairy Kim Bok Joo” a successful drama? The ratings weren’t good, but I think it’s closer to a success [than a failure]. I shot this project in hope that I wouldn’t be ashamed to introduce this drama and say “please watch it”. I read the comments, a lot of reactions said that they laughed and cried because they could relate to the character. I wonder if this isn’t a success. It was my first time getting so much support for a role.

Did you figure out what people like about you? Hearing that I had a reversal charm made me realize for the first time that I had a fancy image in the past. I guess it’s because I was a model and I mostly portrayed stylish characters. That’s why I’m thankful Bok Joo gave me the opportunity to show people an image they couldn’t imagine. Hearing words such as “I knew tall girls over 170cm were cute” made me laugh hard.

It seems that your next project will be a great worry. Worry is about what you can do once you made up your mind. I still don’t know which role I will come across, so I’m curious about what the future has in store. I will try to prepare myself so I’m able to enjoy the role that will bring out my ambition when I’m given an opportunity.

The sweet romance you portrayed with Nam Joo Hyuk whom you’re close with was also a hot issue. We worked well because Joo Hyuk is a close friend of mine, just like his character Jun Hyung was a guy friend for Bok Joo. We’ve been friends ever since we were models. We did a lot of couple photo shoots together, so we weren’t awkward. Now I don’t even call him “Joo Hyuk-ah”, I call him “ya! Jung Jun Hyung!”.

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Did you see Nam Joo Hyuk in a new light? I realized he’s someone with pure emotions like a child. There’s a scene when his character sobs as he meets his mom whom he hasn’t seen since he was a child. Joo Hyuk cried so hard that he couldn’t say his lines and the scene had to be edited. His tears were seen even during rehearsals. I admired him going through this emotion and taking it all in as it was probably the first time of his life that he experienced it.

Your relationship was even described as a “guy friend/girl friend” relationship. * sigh * When I shoot a project or just take pictures with a guy, people alway try to make our relationship more intimate than it actually is.

Just like in the drama, what would you do if your guy friend shows a rational interest in you? I’m honest in my personality and in the way I express myself. Instead, I don’t hold back. If I have a crush on someone, I won’t be able to hide it. If the opposite happens, I will have an honest discussion with him. When I look back, I think there’s a manly vibe to someone who is honest about their feelings.

Like Bok Joo who wears a red hairpin to look good in front of the boy she has a crush on, what do you do when you want to look pretty? They say your attitude changes according to the way you dress. I’m usually reckless, so… I’m into a funny style these days. One day, I wear a crazy pearl necklace or I dress fully like a man. Another day, I try to be in a chic mode and another day I’m so not over the top. It’s fun to create a new me with a different styling each day. However, portraying sports student Bok Joo made me live wearing training suits. They’re the most comfortable thing in the world (laughs).

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Elle
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank You Very Much for translating this article and all Lee Sung Kyung articles.

  2. mlilzzleeess says:

    Thank you so much for this!

  3. Flyn says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful translation for us whom had admire her.

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