This is the last in a series of interviews Jo Hyun Jae gave to Korean reporters after he finished filming the SBS drama “49 Days” in May 2011. There are actually more media outlets that released post-“49 Days” interviews with JHJ, but they are basically the same as the 6 interviews that were translated already.
Jo Hyun Jae: “2011 – striving for both love and work”
Nobody has eyes like Jo Hyun Jae’s — like a young prince’s, their pupils pure and speak volumes. In JHJ’s comeback work the SBS drama ”49 Days”, he displays the courageous manly side in saving Shin Ji Hyun (Nam Gyu Ri) and at the same time sounding somewhat childish in calling Song Yi Kyung (Lee Yo Won) “Song”.
JHJ: “As soon as filming started, my workload was very heavy. After my discharge I felt very much alive while working. Actually I felt bad in the military because I could not act as I wanted. Also for five months after my discharge I could not work so I was in anguish.”
After more than two years craving to act, JHJ in “49 Days” is like “a fish in water” (Editor: Meaning he fits the role very well), displaying not just his charisma but also his many sides. Only now does JHJ feel the drama is over, and he shares with us his innermost thoughts and feelings.
** 49 Days Lee Yo Won-Nam Gyu Ri? Senior Son Byun Ho is the funniest.
JHJ had a hard time during the filming of “49 Days”. Every day was hectic because it was almost like live broadcast. In the last month he could not even go home for the night or get any sleep at all. It was so tough he lost his voice more than once.
JHJ: “Because I had no sleep, so even when the camera started rolling, I still felt like a zombie. And I had indigestion, I could not even go to the toilet. The skin on my face became coarse and bloodless. My mouth was so dry I could not produce a sound; I could not open my eyes; I could not utter even a few simple lines.”
Looking at JHJ thinking back to the situation then, we unconsciously feel “Poor thing!” Because of the other actors he was working with, a special kind of strength was produced in JHJ’s heart. Lee Yo Won was at ease in everything and Nam Gyu Ri worked very hard at everything, and the greatest strength came from Son Byun Ho.
JHJ: “Senior Son Byun Ho is the funniest. When I could not open my eyes, he would pat my back. During rehearsals he often cracked jokes. I also have a lot to learn from him about acting. Thanks to him, I could laugh as I worked. I hope to work with him again on another interesting project.” (Smiling)
** From “idol group” to night theatre “pure male”
When he was watching dramas as a child, JHJ dreamed of becoming an actor. From 1998 he spent a whole year as a member of the idol group “Guardian”, but it was disbanded after only one performance because of the company’s management problems, so it was like an empty dream.
JHJ: “We only performed once, so I cannot really say I was once a singer. But we trained for a whole year and everything became useless, so I was very hurt since I was very young then. So I left the entertainment world for a year, after which I tried to return to the world of acting in a calm and orderly way.”
From 2000 on, starting with CF, JHJ spent about ten years on dramas like “Love Letter”, “Forbidden Love”, “3 Dads, 1 Mom”, “Seo Dong Yo” etc., playing lead. Sometimes he is like a pure young man from the comics, sometimes like a “pure male” with protective instincts, his scope expanding all the time.
JHJ: “It has been ten years already, but there are still many things I would like to do, so I must not be satisfied with the present. I hope I can encounter a project that will make me feel satisfied. But before that I hope our country’s drama production can operate in a stable environment, like Hollywood. I hope to be able to act in a stable situation.”
** Real character? Role-model, ideal type – everything ‘open-mind’
Everybody is very curious to know the real character of JHJ who has always played pure, flawless roles. JHJ: “Female viewers especially regard me as the image of the young prince. Actually I am not like that – I rather prefer to play a macho role.”
Not only this, JHJ is open-minded about role-model and ideal type. JHJ: “An actor must play all kinds of roles, so anyone can be a role-model. But to have only one role-model and follow him is something stupid for an actor.”
So what is JHJ’s target? JHJ: “Rather than play a safe role, I would prefer to play a human role in an empty place/empty corner. Most important thing is, as an actor, I would like to hear praise like “good acting”. As for my ideal type, I’m leaving the door open. This year I want to strive for both work and love.” (Smiling)
Exhaustion from filming seems not yet to have disappeared, JHJ’s face still looks tired. But once acting and his next work are mentioned, suddenly his eyes are flashing. JHJ who has woken up from a long blank period is ready to scale another high mountain. He is all set to embark on another journey, starting now.
Koreans call a perfect person “lacking human traits”, meaning “superhuman” or “above human.”
Empty place/empty corner = imperfect, occasionally makes mistakes.
The sentence “I would prefer to play a human role in an empty place/empty corner” means JHJ wants to play an imperfect person who occasionally makes mistakes – a “human” person.
Credit: http://new.nate.com; English translation by wulijohyunjae. Thanks!