10: "Into the Fire" is in post-production right now. What was it like filming the movie? It must have not been easy -- I saw photos taken on set which basically seemed like ruins.
Cha Seung-won: I didn't see a single woman on set the whole time we shot "Into the Fire." Kwon Sang-woo, T.O.P and I thought 'Wow this is too much.' (laugh) You'll probably be able to tell from the photos but When you see the behind-the-scenes pictures all you see are men.
10: Maybe that's why Choi Seung-hyun received so much attention. (laugh)
Cha: We all like him very much. There is no reason not to like him. He had a really tough time on set after having been an idol group singer. He would say hello at lunch, sit next to me and eat covered in make-up which makes him look messy. And when I ask him if filming is bearable, he would say he likes it. He's a really good guy. Kwon Sang-woo is closest to him in age and they both play student soldiers in the film so he'll treat him in a Spartan way, while Kim Seung-woo will act more parental to him. Everyone treats him differently. If I had to compare them to lions, Choi is like the young lion from "The Lion King" just before Scar gets eaten up. Kwon is a very brave lion who fights a lot but he overdid himself in the fights. (laugh) But his perspective widens greatly when the baby lion comes along and he has a family. That's why I think he'll become a good lion, with courage and a wide perspective. Kim is a lion with too many scars. (laugh) But when you look at him, he just is a lion. Someone who seems like is a lion, even if he may have lost a lot of his mane and have many scars.
Cha: Maybe I'm Scar? (laugh) A Scar with pathos? The Scar in "The Lion King" just seemed pitiful because he had no pathos but Claudius from its original story "Hamlet" wasn't like that. I'm into those kind of characters these days. The ones other than the main character. I feel more attracted to them because I wonder what they're like on the inside. So that's why I chose to play Lee Mong-hak. Regardless of what people say, I am nowhere close to character Hwang Jung-hak (played by Hwang Jung-min) who takes a philosophical view on life. It may seem he lived his life in vain because the end is tragic but I could understand Lee Mong-hak better because he's someone I wanted to follow till the end.
10: You've been working without a break for the past few years. How do you spend your free time when you're not working?
Cha: I just stay home. I don't do much. I do the dishes too. Some people see me as the type that wouldn't do household chores but they're wrong. (laugh)
10: But it seems that you as an actor have purposely worked on portraying yourself as someone who does not want to be seen as a family man.
Cha: I saw a blog posting about me about five years ago titled 'I urge of Cha Seung-won.' It said things like, don't ever play roles that don't suit you, your face gives off the vibe of war so don't try and hide it, you'll do just as well just going with that image. At the time I wondered what he meant by my face giving off the vibe of war but now that I think about it, I think he's right. So nowadays I'm always saying, 'I'm most like myself these days and it's good.' People see me in the image that I have of myself.
|Korean actor Cha Seung-won [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]|
Cha: I don't know what roles I'll take on in the future but what pops into people's minds when they think about an actor is his or her image. I've never thought specifically about what I would want my image to be like but shouldn't I just play roles that suit my look and act the way that I think is right? It becomes better though, when you meet good people. Meeting good people is so important for me.
10: But it's not easy to meet good people in the entertainment business where such a huge number of people are repeatedly gathering and dispersing. I think it'll be important to have an eye for noticing the good people.
Cha: Hmm, well good people are... Since I don't know about women (laugh), when it comes to men, a good guy is someone who is not too nice. I'm not saying he should be mean but should he clash with the world and end up having to take two steps back, he should be able to take a step forward, so someone who is a bit aggressive. You can only protect those that you love by defending yourself completely when someone does harm or inflicts damage upon you. And it's not possible if you're too nice. The second thing is that a man should chase after his dreams, not money, once he enters his 40s. Most people forget about their dreams once their in their 30s, treating them as memories, and instead go after the things we call realistic. But the question is, are those truely realistic? I think men who have those two qualities are good men. That'll mean they're more responsible too.
10: Since you mentioned you read blogs, do you go into fan cafes too?
Cha: I do time to time. And I might write on them maybe once a year. (laugh) But I'm trying to do it more often. I felt too embarassed to before but they're people I like. And the things that my fans say are very important. Whatever movie I do, they'll like it and applaude me but there are times they say, 'I like everything about you. But what didn't quite...' And it'll turn out that what they say is key. Their words are more meaningful and correct than any pointy gimlet. And I am so thankful about that. What have they done wrong to have travelled up all the way from Mokpo to just see me for a couple of minutes, hand me a present, and then go back home.
10: I noticed how Japanese ladies continusouly took photos of you at the screening for "Blades of Blood." Is 'Hallyu star' another modifier we should be adding to your name? (laugh)
Cha: It could be because of "City Hall" or because "IRIS" is airing in Japan right now. It seemed like the spin-off, "Athena," is receiving a lot of attention too.
10: You started out as a model, positioned yourself as an actor, and have now secured a spot as a star. As such, you have been exposed to the public for over 20 years now but it doesn't feel like you've been around for that long. And I think it's not just because you have a physique which people in their 20s have picked as most desirable but also because you have a young mind.
Cha: Could there be anyone who has taken so much care of their looks as I have? (laugh) But there is a secret to my youth. I grow a variety of medicinal herbs and eat them from time to time. Ones that are also good for your eyesight. (laugh) But how could I not be aging. I noticed in the mirror again today that I've grown so old. There are so many wrinkles around my eyes. Some say that an actor's wrinkles are part of his acting but that doesn't make sense. When you're old, you're old. (laugh) People expect actors to somehow agonize over things but not everyone can be like that. Everyone has different perspectives. My life comes before acting for me. I don't think it makes sense for me to say 'I have nothing to do outside acting,' or 'I have never thought about doing anything outside acting,' just became I'm an actor. I think I'd be better at living my life than acting. Life is important to me. Don't you think I've done a pretty good job at it so far? (laugh)
Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye seven@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@
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