Actor Ji Sung [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
10: It often shows through the indifferent expression you put on when playing the role of King Su-ro that I can tell that you don't easily let your character's emotions lift up. One can't tell that he's someone who is suffering from a tragedy just by looking at his expression. Even when he's saving his queen Heo Hwang-ok (played by Seo Ji-hye) and cutting bamboo trees, rather than giving a piercing look, he just quite casually swings around his sword.
Ji Sung: He rather has fun with it. We set Su-ro as a character who is always at ease, no matter what situation he is in. He would have such a hard time if he took every single situation seriously. It's not even a life that he wanted for himself. However, you'll be able to tell once you watch the show this week but he again changes in the way he expresses his emotions. The way he accepts emotions changes so the way he expresses them changes too.
10: Because the story will be about his awakening from now on.
Ji Sung: He's someone who has received an oracle, he is a king sent from the heavens. We've been thinking hard about how to show this in a dramatic way because this could easily come off as seeming infantile.
10: Viewers have to be able to nod to the fact that he is worthy of being a king, even if it's his destiny.
Ji Sung: We know that he has no choice but to be a king but we now have to show why that is the case. I think we'll have to show how he matures depending on the experiences he has. As of now, whoever he meets, I want him to be like the 18-year-old kid that he is. I think it's too much for an 18-year-old to have the charisma of a king.
10: Then do you think he should be at the point where he doesn't cower? (laugh)
Ji Sung: That's right. Him not being a coward yet being able to control everyone with a look in his eyes? I don't think that's quite right. I should explain it to the extent that he comes from a background where he cannot help being a king, and then gradually express him beyond the issue of age.
10: Isn't it more difficult to keep your emotions at mid-point than being able to fully show your emotions and ability?
Ji Sung: It's tough, extremely. But I wanted to take the style factor out of it. That's why I sometimes also have to hold myself back from trying to sound cheesy when I act out my lines. Because I think I'm not the type [that can pull it off]. But I'm going to have to see the script to see what other sides we'll get to see to Su-ro. I'll make him become that Su-ro [in the script].
10: I'm guessing it probably becomes increasingly important to communicate with other actors or the crew the more difficult the acting is. Just like how Su-ro continues to make people join his side by opening himself up to them.
Ji Sung: I think being genuine is important. Being unaffected. You have to be able to ask someone if there's something you're worried about, you have to be able to say you're having a hard time when you are and when you're confident about something you have to be able to express that too. A lot of actors and crew members help me because I tell them honestly about such things.
10: Did you learn to do that through working?
Ji Sung: It something that everybody learns. You can't know it from the very start. And it's probably different for each person but I'm guessing they all learn in a way that suits them. You upgrade yourself and show a better side to you.
10: Do you have a desire to become better?
Ji Sung: This is what I feel. I don't want to be going in a circle. I'm not asking for a shortcut but I at least want to take a normal path. And a wrong judgement could lead you to go the long way around. I think that would take too much time and be very tough. I think this happens less for people with experience because they anticipate the result and are prepared for it.
10: Then you must need a lot of advice from others in order to reduce trial and error since you're a young actor.
Ji Sung: There are people do that [for me]. And actors and producers are not the only ones that give advice. People who actually know less are sometimes more realistic because they tell you from the perspective of an audience. That's why actors have to keep their ears fully open. We can't be stubborn and only do what we want to do. We have to be able to accept and embrace it and make it ours. That's why I seek a lot of advice and consult a lot too. I also look at the criticism that viewers leave on message boards. I can't take everything into account but if I work on certain points based on the thoughts that people have about my acting, I think they'd be responsive to that.
10: Was there any criticism in particular that was very helpful to you?
Ji Sung: There's so much that I don't know... This is my second time taking on a historical drama but it's true that young actors avoid them. They're difficult to relate to, the tone is different... But it's true that they're also as much help for one's acting. Even while working on "Kim Soo Ro" this time, I realized that I don't know so much. That's why I go around smiling because I tell myself I lack in many ways. I wanted to fill up a clean slate with new things. And this happens whenever I play a new role but I'm drawing one thing after another onto it. I probably haven't even filled it up halfway but I'm thinking of acting until I fill up the blank space completely.
10: But isn't it easier to see the picture from far away than up close? For example, after you're done with a role.
Ji Sung: But I want to be able to see the whole picture right now too, so I don't know if I lack the skills to do so but I can't do it. Yet I should still keep trying. Because I play the main character. I can't play my role properly if I can't see the complete picture when half of the script are my lines. But if you ask me whether I'm looking at the entire picture, I'm sure I'm not doing a perfect job of it.
10: You seem to put more meaning into playing the main character.
Ji Sung: That's why it's a lot of pressure. So my first duty is also to rid myself of that pressure... How can one start being under pressure? That's why I try to make some aspects of Su-ro a way of my life. When I'm practicing swordsmanship, I also think how Su-ro would do it. Of course, since he's from a historical drama it's difficult to make his way of life in reality but making an effort to focus on him as much as possible has helped me rid myself of the pressure. I don't know how that will come back to me later but as long as I do my best, wouldn't people recognize it? When I was doing MBC's "New Heart", I tried to regard the supporting actors as actual patients but I think that's a basic quality of an actor.
10: If you put in that much effort and are looking forward to as much compensation for it, there must be a lot that you would be disappointed about. What do you feel more after you're done with a role -- satisfaction or lacking?
Ji Sung: More of what's missing but if the more that's the case, the more I try not to think about it. When you're acting, there are many things one wants to do but if you become disappointed over not having done all of that, you'll start having regrets. And that could lead to a drop in confidence so sometimes, it's just better to let it go. Even with Kim Soo Ro right now, if there's something I wanted to do more of or am disappointed about, I try to shake those thoughts from my head whenever I have a break. This applies for Su-ro too but you can't cope if you are constantly in a tough situation. That's why I try to rid myself of the pains that he experiences when I'm acting him. The story develops quickly too so I can't stay in the pain and concerns. I think that's who Su-ro is.
Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@, Lee Ji-Hye seven@
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