Do not become too alarmed by the close-up shots of actor Ji Sung. He has had make-up put on to create chapped lips and dark circles under his eyes for the role of a Kim Su-ro who is currently sick in bed in MBC TV series "Kim Su-ro." But even if we met with Ji Sung on a different day, it seems unlikely we would have been able to see him bright and cheerful.
Up till the current first half of the traditional epic drama, about the myth of King Kim Su-ro, founder and ruler of the state of Gaya state in the 5th century, the show dominantly tells about the hardships that Kim Su-ro goes through. He loses his father who gets killed by an assassin, which is when he finds out he was not his real father. Then his real mother considers him a nuisance while her political rival also wants to get rid of him. Hence, Kim Su-ro's life is threatened every other episode but he is a young man who must overcome it all and become a king one day.
10Asia talked to the actor, also of hit dramas including his debut screen appearance "Kaist" (SBS, 1999) and "All In" (SBS, 2003), to ask him what it means to have to endure through such difficult acting with both his heart and body.
10: It seems you often have to put on make-up that makes you look like you have a cold sore, just like you did for today's shoot. Did you know you'd be playing such a role that is so physically straining?
Ji Sung: I had heard from the screenwriter and director from when I first got to look at the synopsis.
10: You must've had to prepare for it a lot then.
Ji Sung: I had exercised regularly and although there was rumor that I was preparing for a skin-baring scene, I actually didn't have time to [work out] once we started filming. Other than that I had a lot of action and horse-riding scenes so I had to prepare for those a lot.
Ji Sung: I got injured many times while shooting the action scenes. It's covered by the make-up right now but I got poked near my eye with an iron stick so it left a scar and a bit of skin came off when my fist got striked by a sword. So I'm a bit sad. (laugh) And I usually fight not with just one or two people but several so I get hurt whenever I do action scenes. For the action scene that'll go on air this week, we were fighting on a rainy day so everybody was slipping. And then if you end up falling but are not in synthesis with the other person, you could really end up getting hurt by the sword. It's work that requires a lot of caution.
10: Being able to move your body in the way that you want to is probably part of one's acting skills. Do you think you're good at doing that?
Ji Sung: It's not to the point that I can move in the very way that I want to. That's why actors have to prepare a lot when they're on a break rather than actually working on a movie or drama. Because they don't just play single characters. One may end up playing a martial arts expert or do a dance drama. That's why I think you're already late in getting prepared for a role if you start to prep upon taking a new role. I think that's why when you're on a break, you need to study both physically and psychologically.
10: Does that mean you should always be in a state of tension?
Ji Sung: I think you have to be in a peaceful state rather than tense. I think you have to learn to naturally express situations that you would normally only experience in dramas and undergo a variety of experiences.
|Actor Ji Sung [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]|
Ji Sung: Don't people usually say that they travel? I think one learns to become more at ease by going outside his or her limited boundaries, in the process of experiencing and feeling new things. That's why after "Swallow the Sun," I travelled a lot and went back to school. I haven't graduated yet but I studied hard earlier this year and also took my mid-term exams. (laugh)
10: Welll you said you try and relax yourself and prepare yourself for whatever might happen with the character but Su-ro is a character that you have to show various sides to. He's the bully of the village one moment then become serious the next moment. And the drama itself is about how he grows and matures into an adult so you constantly have to show changed aspects to him.
Ji Sung: I think he's in a confused stage right now -- at a lost stage. If the tragic events that Su-ro experienced occured to a normal person, wouldn't they be in shock and be having a hard time? That's why I have to think a lot. Because I can't always sound the same for when I'm in shock or hurt. Paint piles up and you become distressed. But you still have to get back on your feet. You want to let go of everything but if you think again, you're mother is being held and this week, another person gets held. Then what do you do? You save them.
10: Isn't it more agonizing when you take on roles like this?
Ji Sung: When I have a lot of scenes that I'm sick in, I get really lonely. That's why when I'm done, rather than thinking 'Wow, I'm done. I'm going to take a break,' there's a long lingering feeling. And that's why I tend to become depressed too. I don't know what I'll do next but I want to do sort of a romantic comedy. Something without a big and serious incident.
10: Then I think this is a job which also requires one to have a healthy ego in order to not fall under being in such a state of depression.
Ji Sung: Acting is just acting. I don't think an actor should substitute oneself to his or her character. If you over-do the emotions, it could lead to an unexpected outcome. If you pass on emotions A and B and raise it right to C, you can't lower it back to B.You can only keep going up from there. I think that's what you have to be careful about. Especially if you're thinking of acting for more than a year or two.
Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@, Lee Ji-Hye seven@
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