Actor Song Kang-ho [photographed by Beck Una/10Asia]
Beck: What did you find likeable and entertaining about the script for "Secret Reunion"?
Song: Ten years ago, I did the films "Shiri" and "JSA - Joint Security Area" which are both about South Korea, North Korea and men. So, "Secret Reunion" was similar to them in a way, a similar story, but the overall outline of the movie is completely different from the previous films. The film doesn't treat the South-North division as its theme but rather takes an incredibly soft, light and sophisticated approach to it. I thought that was closer to how the audience currently feels about the division and there was something lovely about a North Korean spy and a former South Korean intelligence service agent living together. I don't think I would have done the movie if it dealt seriously about the division at times like now.
Beck:But didn't you choose to do the film because of the character or the role you would get to take on?
Song:Yes. In the case of "Thirst", I said I would do it because I liked the film but really, I didn't know what to do after that. It wasn't any ordinary movie. How was I supposed to play this part in a movie which was unlike any other movie in the world? Then a month goes by and I was told we were going to hold a ritual wishing good luck for the movie. I saw about a hundred staff members and executives there and I said to myself, oh my, all of these people are counting on me and working on the film, I am in big trouble. I became terrified all of a sudden. But what I'm saying is not that I choose films without giving them thought but that I worry about my character after I choose a film. I don't have time to calculate how my character will balance out between my previous and future roles, or the genre or image I had from previous films. I choose to do the film if it is good and worry about the acting I can do in the movie. An actor cannot and should not calculate anything more than that. I know people could misunderstand me, believing I took on a commercial film like "Secret Reunion" because I did an art film like "Thirst" before, but it's not like that.
Beck:But the order of shooting "Secret Reunion" after "Thirst" is sort of like the pattern we saw in how you filmed "The Show Must Go on" after "The Host". Like after working with Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook, you appeared in the second films of the most promising new filmmakers in Chungmuro who made impressive directorial debuts, like Han Jae-rim of "Rules of Dating" and Jang Hoon of "Rough Cut". So I thought you were an actor who chooses his films with too much precision and calculation.
Song:Ah, that really is a misunderstanding. See, I was actually preparing to shoot "Hindsight" by director Lee Hyun-seung after "Thirst". But that movie got a bit delayed and I was offered "Secret Reunion" in the meantime, so that's why I did it. And it would been so miserable to shoot "Hindsight" after "Thirst"! The title is "Hindsight" And I play the boss of a mob! Ahahaha. But I would have done "Hindsight" had it been ready right away. And I was supposed to work on "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" after "The Host", but it took a long time [to start filming "The Weird"] so I did "The Show Must Go on" while I was waiting. And then I was offered "Secret Sunshine", which I couldn't refuse. Of course, ["The Weird"] director Kim Ji-woon's facial expression changed a little, ahahaha. People who don't know me could say, oh, this guy is clever in choosing his films, but I never chose any of my films with calculation.
Beck: And misunderstanding like 'Song Kang-ho does breather movies'?
Song:Yes. Of course, any actor can do that if he makes up his mind to. He can do a small film after shooting a big movie, do a commercial one after filming an art film. But it's never been like that for me. In fact.. I pretty much just do everything I'm given?
Beck:So you want to say that you were really lucky that all your films up to now have balanced out your acting career like this. (laugh)
Song:Aw, come on. Ahahahahahaha.
Beck:Personally, I was very impressed by your acting in "Secret Sunshine". I was in awe watching the film, wondering if anyone else could eagerly be in the background like that, behind Jeon Do-yeon. I also thought that kind of acting might be more difficult than one that is played out in the front.
Song:All films are pretty much the same. I just do what the director tells me to do. Ahahahaha.
Beck:Come on. (laugh) I think there's always been a curiosity about your acting method. Of course, I know that it cannot be explained in a logical way.
Song:I gave two lectures at a theater class and I get asked a lot of questions on how to act well or how to become a good actor. But there is no right answer so how can you explain that logically in words. Even the students know that it's a dumb question but they still ask. But being someone who has had more experience on set, the only advice I could give is not think too much. Some actors underline their lines on their scripts, trying to figure out what kind of person their character is and imagine stuff that is not written in the script. Like where he was born and how he grew up. But don't worry about things like that. Thinking too much will take the life out of your acting. You just have to accept your character the way he is.
Beck:But it's not like you can instantly rid your mind of all those thoughts because you think you should keep things simple.
Song:No, that's exactly why it's difficult. You won't be able to sometimes and that's when you'll use your instincts. That instinct includes using your previous experience and honestly.. you cannot deny your innate talent, ahahahaha. Even on set, don't worry about how to make yourself seem like you are acting well but just follow what's on the script and go with the flow... I think that's what makes a better actor. In the DVD commentary for "Secret Sunshine", director Lee Chang-dong said "acting is about becoming simple-minded" and I think that's the right answer. Acting is about delivering a certain emotion but its essence won't be delivered if there are too many unnecessary elements attached to it. So what I'm saying is that actors have to become as simple-minded as possible and I think training to do this is much more important than trying to study different characters. To offer my acting tips, I would say don't think too much, keep your acting as simple as you can.
Editor in Chief : Beck Una firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lynn Kim email@example.com, Jang Kyung-Jin firstname.lastname@example.org, Lee Ji-Hye email@example.com
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