Ji Sung [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Cha Ji-heon (Ji Sung) looked happy in the final episode of SBS TV series "Protect the Boss" which ended its run on September 29. The path he walked with his loving Noh Eun-seol (Choi Gang-hee) was beautiful, the kiss they shared was sweet and even the raindrops that fell on their umbrella looked pretty. Cha Ji-heon, who chooses to live the life of an ordinary man for and with the woman he loves instead of elevating the status of the woman he loves by becoming the heir to a conglomerate, was indeed an amazing man. And actor Ji Sung played a big part in making viewers want to give him a big hug rather than get repulsed by him, no matter how upset he made Noh Eun-seol get. 10Asia met with Ji Sung who despite being in his mid-thirties, still has the eyes of a boy and a smile playing on the corner of his lips.
<#10LOGO#> Choi Gang-hee said that she choked upon seeing how your eyes looked soft when shooting the ending scene to "Protect the Boss." What were you thinking then?
Ji Sung: I had been thinking, 'Today will be the last day,' two days before we shot the ending scene. And as we walked down the stairs that we had kissed each other, I said to Choi that we got to shoot a melodrama at this age, at this point in our lives, right here and that we should remember that location for a long time because we have many good memories there. And then I welled up while shooting the last scene because we'd really be done when we walk towards the camera and it reminded me of all the times I had spent with Noh Eun-seol. This project in particular was one that weighed heavily upon me.
<#10LOGO#> Was there a particular reason for it?
Ji Sung: I think the show healed me, like how Cha was cured of his panic disorder and then matured after meeting Noh Eun-seol. I both have and haven't been able to live my life the way I've wanted to but it all became enjoyable because of "Protect the Boss." It's hard to get such a feeling when you're worn out but I shot the show feeling each and every trivial emotion that I could. That's why rather than feeling sad for having to let go of Cha Ji-heon, I felt a happiness which weighed heavily upon me.
<#10LOGO#> Cha Ji-heon acted like an 'elementary school kid' who drove Noh Eun-seol crazy yet was also always cute and loveable. Eun-sung from MBC's "New Heart" gave off the same loveable vibe as well so I'm wondering how it was that you were able to portray such a character so naturally. Is that a side that exists to you?
Ji Sung: I just expressed whatever came out from within me rather than it being who I am. There was a scene where Cha Ji-heon put a straw in his mouth and twirled it around because he didn't want to hear what Seo Na-yoon (Wang Ji-hye) was saying. And I wasn't trying to make people laugh there -- it's a reaction that came out because that really was a dull and boring situation. What I considered most important to playing Cha Ji-heon was that I shouldn't act in an affected way, nor try to be funny, cute or even cool. And that just naturally made me let go of myself. I'd spread my legs, narrow my eyes when I don't like what I see and stare into space all the time. (laugh) I used to strategize such behavior in the past but I now just go with what my heart tells me.
Ji Sung [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Ji Sung: I wrote in a pretty notebook this time instead of a blackboard. I opened up the first page and wrote, Cha Ji-heon, his age, and his job as being the heir to a conglomerate. Then I wrote: If he suffers from panic disorder, why? And how serious is it? How high is the fence around him? What can he do within those boundaries? What are his dissatisfactions regarding society? And this is how I expanded on my understanding of him. I went into shoot after familiarizing myself with these circumstances so that I'd naturally be able to show him honestly.
Ji Sung: I immediately came up with an image of Cha Ji-heon while writing about him in the notebook. With his hair, I didn't set it as the hairstyle of a character from comic "Slam Dunk" from the beginning but thought of how he is someone who cannot express himself well through words. And heirs to conglomerates usually have assistants who take care of their belongings but I felt that Cha Ji-heon would take care of his own so I thought that he should have a big bag and that it would be nice if it was one that fit snug onto his body. That's how I thought of the backpack. And then with the fashion, dress shoes with a nice suit? Nah, I didn't think Cha Ji-heon would. So I decided that he'd go casual but need to be well-mannered so maybe a jacket on top. With shoes, just comfortable sneakers.
<#10LOGO#> The romance between Cha Ji-heon and Noh Eun-seol got great response from the very beginning of the show and therefore, having good chemistry with Choi Gang-hee must've been very important. How was it working with her?
Ji Sung: There's nothing I felt uncomfortable about in terms of working with her from the very first shoot. Choi Gang-hee became Noh Eun-seol the moment she arrived on set. She'd sit with her head down when she gets on set and when I asked her what she's doing, she'd just sort of say, "Oh, nothing..." and stay like that. I sat like that too once I immersed myself into my character. And we'd feel so awkward when our eyes meet. (laugh)
<#10LOGO#> How was it working with Kim Jae-joong who doesn't have a lot of acting experience?
Ji Sung: You can't teach someone to act and there's a limit to how much you can advise someone on it so I just kept telling him about my experiences and how I'd like Cha Ji-won and Cha Mu-won to interact. Jae-joong is more than capable of becoming an actor. And I believe he got the results he got because he focused on his character with a humble mind. We benefitted from it as well. The story would've become shaky if even a single person failed to pull off their roles so I'm very thankful to him in that sense.
<#10LOGO#> It was nice to see how the four of you become good friends for each other. But I'm sure you must've needed time to become close on a personal level to show that naturally.
Ji Sung: It's weird to sit down with people you're meeting with for the first time for script reading sessions. And our drama was a cheerful one so I proposed that we all go on an outing together before we go into shoot. I thought that it would be nice to talk over a campfire and a drink. And at the outing, this is what we asked each other. What sort of person are you, Ji Sung? What sort of person are you Jae-joong? What sort of person are you Gang-hee? What kind of things do you like? As if we were playing truth. They may seem like they're out of the blue but we needed to get to know each other.
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