10: For Dae-gil's martial arts skills, did you keep in mind the historical aspect and the environment Dae-gil is in? His style of fighting is apparently different from that of Tae-ha's. How did you approach that?
Jang: The action sequences are handled by the martial arts specialists but I wanted to do something more. An actor has to know how he wants things done so I thought it was right that I do both the action stunts and act at the same time. That's why I asked the director if I could design the martial arts sequences by direction of the martial arts director. In "Hunters", martial arts is also part of one's acting needed in showing that person's character. Tae-ha and Chul-oong practice traditional martial arts and follow the fixed structure and system used in the palace. A slave hunter like me learned martial arts to survive in the common streets so of course my style of martial arts will be different to theirs. It has to be different from the style Choi Jang-goon and Wang-son use.
Korean actor Jang hyuk [10Asia/Lee Jin-hyuk]
10: That's what I had been curious about. Dae-gil was born into an aristocrat family so he wouldn't have been taught martial arts properly. Dae-gil's martial arts moves are compact and swift which is remarkable just like the training you are receiving right now for jeet kune do.
Jang: It's sort of like this. There is a difference between the martial arts practiced in battlefield and on the streets. At the time, the people on the streets would carry around swords and hunting slaves basically means their own lives are at risk everyday. So when you're in a life and death situation every single day, it's impossible for your fighting to take on a certain style. Whether it be with a long sword, a dagger or a stone, you have to survive. That is why Chun Ji-ho knocks people down with stones and why Dae-gil too knows how to use all kinds of weapons. One can't know what situation they'll end up having to face. Even for those born into aristocracy, they should break away from the stereotypes and become brutal in order to survive. That's why there is sort of a demon-like feeling to him also. And in holding a sword. There will be times where an actor has to feel comfortable carrying around a sword, or holding the sword backwards and recite their lines at the same time. That's how comfortable I have to seem with the sword -- as if I have been using them for my whole life. That's why it's similar to the jeet kune do I'm learning. It's fundamentally about survival and so it rejects conventionality.
10: How did you learn to do the action sequences with a sword?
Jang: I learned martial arts long time ago. And the weapons used in jeet kune do are not considered weapons but means that when one holds a sword in jeet kune do, it means your arm has become longer. To be more precise, I'm not practicing jeet kune do in "Hunters" right now, it's wing chun (a form of Chinese boxing). Wing chun is a form of martial arts that Bruce Lee learned. It was founded by Uhm Young-chun before the time period of "The Slave Hunters" so it wasn't a problem to incorporate that format.
10: But it is hard to put emphasis on the reality in the drama. You have to keep in mind what the audience is watching so how were you able to balance that out?
Jang: If you were in an actual fight, you'd have to be done in one go or just not fight at all. But since this is a drama, you have the design the action sequences so that it can leave an impression visually. And that's where wing chun and defense comes in handy. The training doll that Dae-gil used to practice his martial arts was used during the Qing Dynasty and I kept in mind the fact that there was exchange between the Qing and Chosun Dynasty so I just assumed that Dae-gil modeled it after that. I thought it was important that I show how Dae-gil practiced his martial arts for ten years. When designing the action sequences, the technical part is important on the outside. But no matter how grand it looks when it's shot, you also have to do a good job in delivering your emotions. I have to accept what sort of emotions come from which part of his past when he's doing martial arts.
10: I think that's why "The Slave Hunters" director Kwak Jeong-hwan refers to you as being "full of emotion during action scenes".
Jang: It can be compared to a boxing match. The boxer forms a pattern during the 24 rounds in where to put more energy and where to hold back. It's not about working on an action sequence but figuring out the flow of how it is supposed to be played out. And the director too will adjust the process of his directing depending on his overall idea for the show.
Actor Jang hyuk [10Asia/Lee Jin-hyuk]
10: Dae-gil's character seems to be an accumulation of all the experiences that you had in your life. You learned jeet kune do and watched numerous DVDs to analyze the characters.
Jang: There are people who ask me whether there was some sort of turning point before taking on “The Slave Hunters.” And I think they were probably referring to my serving in the military, getting married or having a child which were big changes in my life but they're one of those things in life that just happen. I myself didn't undergo a sudden change -- it was a natural process which came about as I gradually accumulated on my experience. At the age of 35, I am starring in "The Slave Hunters" which is a drama where I can give it all I have.
10: Your answer confirms you are someone who is likely to collect DVDs. (laughs) I remember seeing your showcase of DVDs -- it looked like you know the satisfaction that comes from someone who knows how to collect things.
Jang: There is saying that you can tell what a person is like by seeing their room. I think about how I could fill up the empty spaces in my room. Whether it be a DVD, book or figurine, they all become my toy that I see and feel. That's why it's important to find an interest that you can manage.
10: Is that why you watch movies on a regular basis? I heard that after you watch a movie, you fall asleep 10 minutes into the next film.
Jang: Because I'll become curious to find out what happened in that movie the next day and watch it again. Some days I watch three to four movies a day and when I'm shooting a drama, I take my DVDs on set. I'll also listen to the commentary for films I really enjoyed and I bring my exercise equipment and books on set too.
10: How does your everyday life influence your acting? From your roles in "The Earth of Wang Reung" to "Thank You" to "The Slave Hunters", I think you're someone who focuses more on how to express the inner depth to your character inner depth rather than wonder how different a role you'd get to play.
Jang: If I practiced three days worth of jeet kune do and rested the next day it doesn't count as two days. It means I just rested. And it gets easier after several years. That's how I feel when I do dramas. I think later on, I would like to try designing characters. If I get assigned to create a character you would craft it into three-dimensions. I have great interest in things like that.
10: It seems that your acting and life experiences have accumulated and led you to you playing the role of Dae-gil. And it also seems like he will be leaving a mark on your acting career. How do you feel about that?
Jang: If you ask me why I act, I would have to say it is because I like portraying characters and giving life to them. I don't think there is a limit to the characters I play. I think I take the character's personality and develop on it to show how he grows. I'm sure I have been influenced by the various roles I've played and the people I've met. And I think that's what makes up my acting. That's why I still think I am accumulating on my experience.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk email@example.com
Editor : Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org; Lucia Hong email@example.com
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