[January 2018 – Elle] Gong Yoo – The Man We Love – Interview (part 2)

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This year marks “Coffee Prince” (2007) 10th-year anniversary. It’s a drama that made you famous, but it’s also a drama that many fans remember through a summer, youth vibe. And it’s the same for me too. In the special broadcast, each actor had to sum up this drama with one word. Kim Chan Wan said it best. “Coffee Prince is summer ’07”.

It seems that this drama was as meaningful for your career as “Goblin” was. You’re right. I shot “Coffee Prince” when I was 29 years-old. I shot “Goblin” when I was 39. Being 29 was truly a tough time for me. And being 39 as well. I’m going through a similar experience exactly ten years apart. If anything, the pain is just a bit different. This is fascinating and I do wonder how being 49 will be like. Still, it might be because my body and my mind got stronger in the span of these 10 years, but I’m fortunate that the pain of being 39 didn’t last long. When I was 9, that pain lasted for a long time. I was wondering about my career, about my life, about my opaque future, if I’d still get roles… “Coffee Prince” is a drama that took away some of these questions and gave me strength so I’d be able to stand. It gave me the opportunity to find peace by telling myself i’ll be okay if I worry just a little less.

Ten years have passed between when you were 29 and when you were 39, do you think things went well for you
meanwhile?
I want to say congratulations. I’m very hard on myself, but as much as I’m usually hard on myself, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back this time around. When I was 29, I tortured myself a lot. When I first met Lee Yoon Jung who directed “Coffee Prince”, she did worry about me. I don’t feel like I tortured myself like that when I was 39. The pain lasted less and I became tougher. I want to tell myself that I worked hard and did a good job.

“Goblin” got you receive a lot of love throughout Asia. How was it to hold fan meetings with your overseas fans? Every time, it feels strange and amazing. It’s an honour and it makes me happy, but fan meetings are something I always worry about. I’m not an entertainer who can display a great performance on stage like a singer would. All my fan meetings overseas have an entrance fee. That’s why I’m ashamed that I have nothing spectacular to show to my fans. Of course, just seeing the actor they like can be enough for the fans, but from my point of view it’s worrysome. That’s why once “Goblin” was over, I talked with my agency and we agreed to reduce the scale of the venues. I stand on stage with one thing in mind “let’s show them who I truly am without the greatest artifice I have in front of a camera.”

Won’t the love from your fans overseas also influence what you do in the future? I think it won’t.
People say they hope fans won’t misunderstand them. Won’t people who truly care about me as an actor and who support me not hope that? As I’m getting older, won’t I get more and more into stories I want to tell ? This is what I’m wondering. It’s like what we’ve talked about earlier. I’m not talking about only doing a project with a message. When I select a movie, what I like is finding what’s good about it, regardless of where this good can be found. This can be the music, it can be the mise en scene too. I like movies with a defined identity. I don’t have much interest in movies that just gather randomly every thing the audience likes. Of course, I know movies are a mainstream art, and I also know there’s much less standards/requirements than before. However, I do try to find the common ground or the meeting point between both aspects. I hate making concessions about every thing. So I believe a small difference can be important when you pay attention even to a tiny bit aspect.

Movies aside, is there another field you can talk about with so much enthusiasm? Sports? Of course. Old men my age are all the same. When it’s baseball season, there’s the major league championship, the Korean pro league championship and when it’s over, the NBA season starts… During my stay in LA this time, I got to attend a real NBA game. It was my first time and it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t even my favorite team (my favorite team is the Golden State Warriors), but it was amazing to see a game with my own eyes. When I first purchased the tickets, I wondered why they were so pricey, but my money wasn’t wasted (laughs).

Can you handle yourself and manage throughout your daily life, even when you’re on your own? Depending on what I need, my managers become my hands and feet, and I’m thankful to them. However, I try not to depend heavily on them. I like being on my own. I’m someone who needs to be by himself once in a while. I’m used to loneliness. I think we all need our personal space, be it when you date someone or when you’re friends with someone. It’s uncomfortable to accept anything in the name of friendship or love. I don’t know when I’ll get married, but it must be with someone who respects giving each other a personal space.

It seems that you shook off the worries of being 39 and you’re ready for 2018. I’m very serene these days. This serenity is something I had been craving for for a long time. To be honest, I’m more of the “does
moving to another year actually change something?” type. My birthday gives me no thrill. I don’t really like the raucous atmosphere of Christmas. I’m just a very boring person. You know, some people just have this “why all this futility?” negative point of view. I’m just very relaxed in general. I don’t give a big meaning to trivial things.

Will we have to wait a bit more for your next project? I didn’t plan to take a break. It’s true that it was exhausting, but I wanted to do a new movie fast. I realized that I don’t find any project when I’m actually eager to get back to work. Is it because I miss being on a filming set? Getting to work with people who get me and creating a new story, this makes me want to be a part of the group too. Just like I got to work on projects from back-to-back in the past, I wonder if a project won’t find me if I just take it easy and wait.

Do you have this vague “it’d be nice to get a good project” hope? I want to portray characters that are a bit more unravelling. A role that would allow me to portray this “daily life” acting I was able to show through ad-lib in “Goblin”. Or a character that doesn’t care about his appearance, a two-faced character ? I don’t know if it’s because I have many thoughts in mind and I worry a lot, but I want to live a life completely different from mine because that’s what gives me liberation. Going to the set is fun.

We received a question from “Elle” Thailand. They want you to talk about the flaws that can make people stop loving you. I don’t know if it’s a question our readers also want you to answer to. I have a lot of flaws. I’m very far from the romantic image you see in dramas or ads. Of course, it’s not that I don’t have any sweet factor at all. According to what people around me say, I do have a unique way to be kind. I’m not really good at celebrating birthdays or milestones. I’m not someone who readily does what most of women expect men to do. Am I being too honest?

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Elle
Translation: @tnesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com

9 Comments Add yours

  1. kfangurl says:

    Ahhh! And once again, Gong Yoo demonstrates his unique honest, candid charm. How is it that he can tell us something “negative” about himself, but come across so charming while doing it??

    Thanks dear Sunny, for this translation. ❤ I know that many GY fans were waiting for this!

    1. Sunny Lady says:

      ♥♥ I know Gong Yoo holds a special place in your heart. I must say I find him more and more charming as I translate more and more interviews of him. Thank you for reading and commenting as always 😀

  2. Lady G. says:

    Thank you so much for this fine translation! I really love his interviews. I’m not a rabid Gong Yoo fan, but I think he’s an excellent actor who gets better as he goes along. I appreciate his honesty and I see a lot of myself in his answers.

    It’s great how he’s not about “fan service” when it comes to his choices in movies and roles. As much as we’d like to see actors in certain roles, (I’m always dreaming of them in certain roles!) Performing Fan Service all the time can put an actor in a rut and leave him typecast.

    “I hate making concessions about every thing.” – I totally agree and as you get older you do it less and less.

    I always got the sense he was introverted from past interviews. I always related to him. This comment is a definite giveaway. – “I like being on my own. I’m someone who needs to be by himself once in a while. I’m used to loneliness. I think we all need our personal space…”

    “I’m just very relaxed in general. I don’t give a big meaning to trivial things.” – That’s right. I don’t see that as having a negative attitude.

    All his honesty is something that comes with age. I notice how younger stars always say what they think the fans want to hear and it’s only years later they come out and show their true feelings. Because it gets tiresome catering everyone’s whims.

    1. Sunny Lady says:

      * nods * I totally feel the same way about Gong Yoo. I guess the fact I am also getting older puts things into another perspective and makes it easier to understand an actor’s vision. Thanks for leaving such an insightful comment 😀

  3. kaiaraia says:

    I love how true he is to himself. So consistent! Thanks Sunny.

    1. Sunny Lady says:

      Thank you for commenting!! 🙂

    2. Lady G. says:

      You’re welcome! Yes, I’m in his age range, this year I’ll be 38, so I’m feeling all those little shifts in my perceptions. You’re more acutely aware of who you are, instead of trying to please everyone around you. I believe you can become all things to all people, and alter your approach or how you deal/relate with them, but at the end of the day we’re all individuals. I appreciate that Gong Yoo has that strong individuality that you don’t see much in other actors or idol stars. We know it’s there, but they hide it to keep up appearances.

  4. aisling says:

    Hello, Sunny Lady,
    this is the first time visiting your blog. I came across your blog when I was searching for GY interviews. Thank you so much for translating this interview. His answers are thoughtful and because he guards his privacy so much, I’m happy to get glimpses of real Gong Ji Chul through interview like this.

    I like him because unlike other Korean celebrities it feels like has distinct personality, he doesn’t shy from any questions and doesn’t give vague and shallow answers.

  5. NamWharn Nuntachaiyod says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sunny. I found this by accidentally and it’s really make me to know GY more in another POV , he is such a good actor indeed.

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