Intensity and sense of purpose create the materials for a star

Actor Kim Myung-min was thought to be an up-and-coming star after his debut in 1996 but his life went in a different direction. He was badly injured while performing a stunt and his film contracts kept being withdrawn. This series of unfortunate events led him to quit stage acting in 2004.
Ironically, the year he gave up his stage life was also the turning point in his career. He was given the opportunity to play the lead role in a historical drama called “The Immortal Lee Sun-shin.” The opportunity was a double-edged sword because viewers showered him with harsh criticism, saying he was not the best choice to play Joseon naval hero Lee Sun-shin. Nevertheless, the drama made him a star and he became extremely busy.
In January Kim appeared in “White Tower.” He played Dr. Jang Jun-hyuk, a cold-hearted and intelligent figure who possesses a secret and contemptible ambition. With his quirky appearance and ambiguous good looks, Kim successfully embodied the character.
Kim also hit movie screens with the thriller “Return,” which was released on Aug. 8. This movie portrays a boy who wakes up during surgery and feels every cut. The shock makes him become a serial killer. Kim took a lead role in this film and has just begun shooting “Open City,” another thriller.

Q. The characters you played in “White Tower” and “Return” somewhat overlap with each other.
A. I played a doctor in both films, but they have different traits. “Return” is a more sentimental work. Its main focus is the murderer, but there is a deeper message. The four main characters (Kim Myung-min, Yoo Jun-sang, Jung Yoo-suk and Kim Tae-woo) of this movie form an unstable structure which is bound to collapse when any of them fails to be modest. The message conveyed was “Be humble.”

Why do you favor thrillers?
I find romance films pathetic and dull. I am more drawn to dynamic thrillers, where faithful friendships, complex characters and a community of robust men are involved.

estyle@joongang.co.krYour powerful acting was conspicuous in White Tower after you character loses his wife. Was that difficult?
Ironically, acting itself isn’t that tough. In fact, the real challenge is to revive my emotions when the staff continually break the scene to fix settings and lights. The flow of acting is constantly being broken but I have to restore the same feelings. It often takes hours to shoot something that lasts for a few minutes.

Why did you stop acting for a week after shooting the film?
I had a sore throat. I thought I would be exhausted so I had asked for a break beforehand.

How did you integrate yourself with the film character?
I try to think like the movie character would. The spirit of Cho Dae-young, the character I am currently playing in “Open City,” frequently comes into my mind. For example, if I were being myself, I would have already enjoyed this snack (pointing at some juice and a snack in front of him). However, the Cho Dae-young in my head commands me not to. In this way, I am able to naturally assimilate my mind with his.

I can imagine that once the shooting is over, getting that character out of your mind is going to be hard.
It is. When filming is done, I am left with an emptiness in my heart, just like after a breakup with a lover. After I finished “White Tower” my head ached for a month. I think actors are bound to suffer from short-term mental disorders.

You have a reputation for your powerful voice. Why did you once have an inferiority complex about it?
I used to be criticized for my loud voice; but after my success, no one has dared to disapprove of it.

Why do you like TV dramas?
It’s unfair that the public belittles TV dramas compared to movies. When actors participate in TV shows, the staff doesn’t wait for them to display appropriate reactions; rather they’ve got to deal with whatever circumstances confront them. On the other hand, movie stars can always take their time until they get the right emotions. To be honest, I am bothered by the fact that many people praise Korean movies out of patriotism. A movie should be judged by its quality not its nationality.

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