|Actor Hyun Bin [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]|
Hyun: I'm not too sure about anything else, but I have a face that easily changes with a different hairstyle or makeup. That I like. And I’m grateful when I hear people say I'm handsome or a pretty boy but I really don’t care for such words that much. There are many guys around me who are much more handsome than I am. (laugh)
10: You must get a lot of offers which try to take advantage of your star power as Hyun Bin, but you seem to avoid taking those offers in particular.
Hyun: I do get such offers but I think they just weren’t my type of work. I don’t mean to say they were good or bad, I just wasn’t attracted to them. I can’t abandon my so-called star power completely, but I don’t want to be led by it either.
10: In that regard, “Friend, Our Legend” (“Friend”) is something you said you chose to do even though you knew people would talk about it unfavorably.
Hyun: That’s right. People told me negative things about it even before I started working on it. (laugh) I hadn't even set my foot in the water and heard a lot of things. People told me it would be better if I didn’t do it. The film left such a strong impression and the acting by my senior actors had been so good that I was told I would have a tough time even if I pulled off the character Dong-soo. A lot of people were against me taking on the drama, but I just went ahead with it and did it.
10: But as the movie enters the second half, you did establish a different character than the one played by Jang Dong-gun in the film. What sort of character did you want to express Dong-soo as?
Hyun: I created a more sensitive Dong-soo since the drama version had a lot of melodrama elements, especially with Jin-sook, added into it. The tone of the drama was more mellow because even with all the fighting scenes, I would either be showing tears before or after the fight or my relationship with Jin-sook would be revealed which would soften the atmosphere. I think the biggest difference was the melodramatic side to Dong-soo.
10: When you look back it now, what did you gain from doing “Friend”?
Hyun: I think the most significant thing was that I was able to work with people like director Kwak Kyung-taek and his staff on the story that I had dreamed about doing since 2001, even before my debut. The whole process, from the reading sessions, shooting and monitoring afterwards, creating facial expressions and building on the character, and the people I worked with.. I gained a lot from the experience.
Hyun: I usually am. If I like something, I just go ahead with it. If I decide that I want to try doing this project, I don’t really pay attention to other circumstances. Whatever the consequence, that comes later so I just make a choice and do it.
10: But since you are acting in an entertainment business, having luck is as important as putting in your own efforts. Sometimes, things don't turn out the way you had anticipated and lead you onto a completely different direction. Do you have any fears about choosing which role you'll take on next?
Hyun: No. If I go way off track, then I can just walk back. Whatever role I take on, I don’t know what will happen. And once I take on a role and start shooting, there are always bound to be people who are keeping an eye on the overall situation. So if everything continues to move along and they give me the green light, I'm guessing it means that I'm doing alright. Hence when say that “I am not responsible for the ratings or the number of viewers", which I always say, is really is because the outcome isn't dependent on me. My part is to do my best in front of the camera til the end, before the results come out.
10: You said that you weren’t trying to make some sort of calculated transformation in the film “I Am Happy”. It really does seem you weren't under the pressure to transform yourself but rather just taking on different roles every time.
Hyun: People tell me that my acting has gotten much better since doing “I Am Happy”. I think it’s because I had a lot of time to think by myself with this movie. It’s not easy to get rid of everything that was embedded in your body from your previous role but luckily, I think that I have been meeting the directors, one after another, who have helped me do that. Directors Yoon Jong-chan, Pyo Min-soo, Kwak Kyung-taek, Kim Tae-yong -- they all want something new. They don’t want to see the acting pattern of Hyun Bin that everyone is so familiar with. So I have no choice but to get rid of them. But it’s not like I can wash everything away completely so I just push them back for a moment. Someday, as I get older and keep acting, I think I will be able to use them all very well.
10: You are preparing to shoot the film “Manchu” with director Kim Tae-yong. That movie was first made in the 1960s. The original film was a melodrama about a fugitive and a well-behaved female inmate. What do you find attractive about the new role?
Hyun: The scenario was entertaining, and I thought that if this story was written in the 1960s it must have been a very sophisticated film. This is actually the fourth remake of “Manchu” but I have intentionally stayed away from watching the previous movies. I’m going to prepare for the movie on my own before going into shoot and watch everything at the very last minute.
10: Your co-star is actress Tang Wei of “Lust, Caution”, so you must get a lot of questions about that. But what truly worries you the most at this point, ahead of going into shoot?
Hyun: Language, of course. It’s a global project so everything is conducted in English, 100 percent. I’ve experienced language barriers when I did “Friend” so it’s even more overwhelming. The Busan dialect I used in “Busan” is Korean but it still lessened my emotions in my acting because I was worried about the language. So I’m worried about how much emotion I’ll be able to deliver in English, which isn’t my native language. I did a reading with Tang Wei before I came to Korea and had a talk with her, but I think it’s important to overcome the language barrier not just with my acting partner but with the entire crew as well because most of them are foreigners too. I’m going to try to get rid of the language barrier by practicing with an English tutor before filming starts. And from what I’ve discussed with the director, my character is someone who came to the U.S. three years ago so he doesn’t need to speak like a native and so I’m going to focus on delivering the emotions first. That makes me feel a little easier about the part.
10: You said that you want to be remembered by the names of your characters than as Hyun Bin. But when your play the characters, what people remember is the sense of trust that comes with the name Hyun Bin. Isn’t that ironic?
Hyun: I used to hate that, to be honest. When people called me “Kook” and not Hyun Bin after “Ireland” ended, I hated that. I thought that I should be called by my real name Hyun Bin back then and it was such a stupid thought. (laugh) But after “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon” ended, people kept calling me “Sam-shik” instead of my own name. After a while, I gradually realized how wonderful and lucky it was to be called that. So from a certain point on, I felt much happier when people called me by the names of my characters and not by my own. That’s all I need.
Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun email@example.com, Jang Kyung-Jin firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer : Chae ki-won email@example.com
Editor : Lynn Kim firstname.lastname@example.org, Lee Ji-Hye email@example.com
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