[July 2017 – Marie Claire] Lee Joon Gi – Interview


So you’re back to being a police officer 10 years after “Time Between Dog and Wolf”.

It’s been a while since I’ve been playing a contemporary character. I’m enjoying filming because it feels like I’m able to show you a breathing, unripe image of myself, if you compare to my previous projects. It’s a criminal psychology show, but it’s basically filled with humanity. The character Hyun Joon is closer to a character created matching a Korean feel than the characters in the original TV show. There is a strong sense of altruism and sympathy in this agent being scouted to be a part of this team of level-headed profilers. This quick hot-blooded “unvoluntary helper” also hurts. Because of this personality, he acts as a bridge between the victim and the investigation team. This creates some tension with the team members in the beginning.

Just by looking at “Hyun Joon”, I feel a kind of upgrowth. As Hyun Joon figures out what he must do to help out the victims, he becomes more grounded and he grows as much as he helps the team. He went through growing pains, but after going through some stuff, he gets to join this special investigation team and he slowly changes. I hope the viewers will relate to the story through Hyun Joon’s human side. He went through growing pains… Didn’t this match the usual description “a man who has a situation going on” we already heard in other dramas?

When we say “Lee Joon Gi”, there’s this specific sad feeling we get.

You’re right. Scenarists always make me that guy, the one who always lost his parents… (laughs) It seems that I’m seen as an actor who can portray double-sided characters. They want to create various situations as they show different type of emotions through me. I’m thankful that I’m being used for this reason, but it’s always hard because I must find a different way each time to portray these feelings, even when they’re the same.

You suffer a lot with each role. There is also a lot of action scenes in this drama.

It’s not that I’m constantly looking for this kind of struggle, but I think the scenarists write the script and want to make me roll at some point. (laughs) But doesn’t it feel like it’s something I must do because the viewers watch for it now? I like portraying dynamic characters, so I give my opinion during filming. So the directors also care about what I say.

I think now when we say “Lee Joon Gi”, we also expect the romance to be spectacular too.

I want to play a manager living in the cool AC breeze or a CEO son. I dream about this every year. (laughs)

In the past, you said you wanted to shoot a project once a year.

To be more precise, it wasn’t “I wanted”, it was “I must do”. It’d be nice to do much more than what I do right now if it was possible. I want to shoot at least two projects a year, but once I’m done with a drama, six months have already passed. Saying this doesn’t mean that I start each project on January and finish in June. It’s always tough when the schedules overlap. It’s important for an actor to build up his career. Doesn’t it take time? I’m very hungry about working. I want to meet a different character each time. Even if it’s not a lead character, what I want to is to portray a character with an impact on the movie and to shock the audience. That’s why I’m also meeting movie producers right now. Most of people tell me “you know what’s famous, right?”, so I answer “it’s something you can’t see” which makes me appealing.

Don’t you live to the fullest only as actor Lee Joon Gi? There must be times you probably feel lonely when you’re not running to build your career.

I’ve always lived with a sense of responsibility. This thought makes me feel lonely. However, the mindset “when I’m in actor mode, I work hard, when I’m in my daily life, I must be comfortable and enjoy” doesn’t match me. Even when I’m not working, I ask myself “what should I do more?” or “what thing I’m not good at?” and I judge myself harshly. I’m loved by many, so it’s only fair that I must give back a positive energy as big as what I’m given. More than being hurt because I can’t meet the viewers’ expectations, I wonder why I can’t match the audience changes and I reflect on myself one more time. This became a very natural mindset and a natural process for me.

You must be an actor all your life.

I’m regularly asked “will you always be an actor? Will you become a popular actor?” [t/n: popular actor is literal as in an actor loved by the masses]. I don’t know exactly what “popular actor” means, but it’s clear that I care about what the audience thinks. The sunbaes tell me it’s getting harder and harder to act when you focus on the public reaction and you’re self-conscious about what your entourage thinks. They tell me not to get attached to this. However, I think I cannot not care about my relationship with the audience. Don’t selfless people think relationships are important?

It seems that the man we meet today has nothing in mind but trying to portray also the image the public wants to see.

You’re right. This is the kind of actor I am. People with this personality tend to make them small when they get hurt even just a little. Their center wavers very easily. I try my best to think about things with a stimulating mindset. I have yet to know what a big stress is. However, don’t people say that the one thing you can’t be sure of is why your heart gets softer as you get older? There are moments when I wonder if I go through these soft phases these days. In the past, I’d think about stuff for a week then it was over. Now my worries stay stuck in my head for a month sometimes.

If you overthink like this, it must take you a while to choose a project. Didn’t you manage to get up each time thanks to a new kind of energy?

Some people give me the advice to take a break. A project doesn’t succeed only because an actor is good. Many elements are gathered to create a synergy, so this gives a lot of anxiety. However, spending time only worrying is really a waste. More than thinking all by myself “why did I fail”, I try to find the answer by being on set and feeling the energy. I’m sure this awakening can happen only when I’m filming. I must act on set with these questions in mind “why do I do this? Why do I make no progress?”. I can find the answers by confronting myself to these doubts. I want to be on a filming set. Always.

I know how much you love being on a set. And you even said you were crazy about the script pages. Aren’t you at the workaholic level? (laughs) Because you like memorizing. (laughs)

I can’t fill each moment of my life only with my acting work, so when I take a break, I record music or I hold fanmeetings and perform for my fans. It’s my job thank to my fans, but this is also my way to get renewed feelings and senses, to get new motivation. Don’t they say an actor must carry his own sauce? So from this perspective, I see it as an extension of my job as an actor.

You’d think spreading your energy like this is consuming, but it’s the opposite.

Some fans worry that me doing fan-related events would take away time for my projects. They say there’s no need for
me to do all that to thank them. (laughs) That’s not what it is. Each actor has his own way to relieve the stress
when on a break. This is just my way to take a break.

It feels like your daily life is well-organized.

Am I not very boring?

Instead of boring, I’d say you seem to be someone who knows exactly what to do of the time given to him.

I thought proudly of myself in the past for this, but I actually don’t really listen to what my entourage says. They tell me to travel around, to get hobbies and gain some experience. Aside from going back and forth between a filming set and home, I don’t really go out. I say that because I went to Taiwan a couple of times but don’t know much about it. Aside from the hotel and the concert venue, I didn’t go out. The producers told me to go sightseeing and do some shopping since I was already there, but I wonder what is it about going out, spending money while giving a hard time to your entourage once work is over. I declined politely by saying I don’t enjoy doing stuff
like this. And what I did [t/n: he means performing] was enough fun for me. How many people in this world can have such memories with their fans?

So are you happy right now?

Of course, I am. Because I never think about something else. But my interviews are a bit boring. A reporter asks me
“I know who actor Lee Joon Gi is, how are you in your daily life?”. Just like any other actors, stuff must happen in my life. If not, both of us get upset. Whatever it is, I must do something to have something to tell in interview. I wonder if I shouldn’t go paragliding. (laughs) I mean, I should do it even if I have to talk about it in interviews as “that time when I almost broke my leg”. Because this is what readers will find interesting too.

So let’s talk about your daily life. I heard you enjoy drinking.

That’s why my fans worry a lot. I’m constantly living in anxiety, so it’s nice to get some time allowing me to relieve that stress. I enjoy being in a group of people and chatting. As I’m listening to other people’s stories, I reflect on myself. I make a living out of portraying emotions, so I don’t get much time to look and listen quietly, which makes this even better. And I also talk a lot about myself.

You made this bar discussion quite serious.

Because at the end, it’s work discussion. (laughs) What’s worse is that I cry a lot while drinking these days. Back in the day, when someone cried, I criticized them by saying “what’s wrong with you? Ugly. Ain’t you drunk?”. I guess it might be because I’m getting older, but it’s not just about being drunk. Tears just roll down my face when a discussion touches my heart.

You probably did some blanket kicking in the morning.

I did some blanket kicking at first, I know it all now. I just go “I was able to do so because I’m an actor” and I cry. (laughs) Still, isn’t it better than drinking alcohol and getting angry? If you already cry, you must cry pretty tears. Like an actor.

You’re an actor even when you’re drunk. You’re an actor by nature.

I don’t think I’m an actor by nature. I don’t know if the best actor is the one acting with method. I’m just an actor who tries to do his best and gets immersed in the character when I stepped into the story. That’s why I must get more anxious. What I mean is I’m trying to get love from the audience, even if I’m not good like the actors called acting geniuses.


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


2 Comments Add yours

  1. kfangurl says:

    Thanks once again for your hard work in translating these interviews for us, Sunny!! It’s interesting to read about how “boring” he thinks he is.. but how endearing, that part of the reason he chose to be boring and stay in his hotel room in Taiwan, was so that he wouldn’t have to stress his entourage with additional activities. Hoping that his new drama will be a success – he’s had too many duds in a row, I reckon. I need to see a drama where LJK isn’t working to single-handedly keep the show afloat! 😝

    1. Sunny Lady says:

      “he’s had too many duds in a row”. I KNOW RIGHT? Gosh I really hope he’ll get his groove back with a contemporary role. and can you imagine play a chaebol? or maybe he’d need a villain role once in a while… I don’t know. I just want him to be on a sucessful project. 😀

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