Drama (2015.08): Yongpal / JHJ Interviews / JHJ News / News Articles

Jo Hyun Jae Post-Yongpal Interview (14) – The secret of portraying a villain successfully according to JHJ

JHJ Post YP Int-21

JHJ Post YP Int-22Ohhhh, I love the way this article is written. This is not a case of a reporter just imparting information, but a case of a reporter painting a picture using words. I am really thankful to Jenny Park for translating this article. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have done justice to this article with my very limited translation skills the way Jenny did.
In this article Jo Hyun Jae also shares something  Writer Hwang Jin Young of “King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang” (KDSBH) told him back when they were still filming the drama.
Article Title: Jo Hyun Jae said that his secret method to play the villain successfully was to portray what the character lacks.
2015.10.05. 15:34
Jo Hyun Jae is introspective personality-wise and pretty quiet too. In addition, his face looks like he is the nicest guy in the world. To an actor like Jo Hyun Jae the role of a villain was like a pair of clothing that didn’t suit him at all.
To actors, the scariest thing is to have a certain fixated image of some sort. This is because it limits them from the genre and the types of characters they can play when it comes to picking a project. A nice looking face is a blessing when you are just an ordinary person, but to an actor this can be like a trap. Finally an opportunity came to him.
The SBS Wednesday-Thursday drama “Yongpal” that finished airing just recently made Jo Hyun Jae quench his thirst completely regarding the villain role that he has been wanting to play for so long. An heir of a conglomerate that has an illegitimate child syndrome goes beyond making you feel bad but moreover you end up feeling terrified of him.
Jo Hyun felt a peculiar kind of pleasure in this. “I was so pleased each and every time I heard people around me say that I looked evil. I felt good because this was more or less like a compliment from them. You know they are telling you that you are wicked and yet it’s actually a good thing.”
This opportunity of him playing the villain felt very personal to Jo Hyun Jae because he had an experience of losing that opportunity once before. After the 2003 MBC drama “Love Letter” was over he wanted to play someone that’s rebellious. It’s natural for a young actor in his 20s to want something like that. A movie from 2008, “G.P. 506”. Before shooting this movie it seemed like there was a chance, but the whole script was revised so that the character had to go a different direction. It almost felt like fate was playing around.
Jo Hyun Jae has plenty of talent. Writer Hwang Jin Young of the MBC drama KDSBH saw and discovered the possibilities that is hidden inside Jo Hyun Jae regarding being able to play a villain. In KDSBH there is a scene where his character finds out that his real father is dead and then he loses all reason because of it. He just lets everything go haywire from there. When Writer Hwang Jin Young saw Jo Hyun Jae’s acting in that scene the writer told Jo Hyun Jae that he could play a good villain.
Where did the whole thing of Jo Hyun Jae wanting to play a villain start to the point that it seems to have become an obsession? Jo Hyun Jae said, “I just wanted to try to be in all different kinds of projects. Since I was able to play a villain this time around I could possibly play a clumsy character in a more lighthearted and fluffy genre next time. Basically, I just want to be able to act in everything that I haven’t done before. I am even willing to play a character that could ruin me and make me look like a fool as long as it will not include explicit nudity.”
An opportunity that finally came and this character isn’t worthless or good for nothing. In order for Jo Hyun Jae to properly make the transformation, he had to identify and sympathize with the character first. Even doing bad things should have some kind of a backstory. Otherwise, the character would be nothing more than a psychopath and this would be hard for the viewers to relate to.
Until the beginning of episode 2 there was no backstory for Han Do Jun and the character just senselessly gave in to his evil ways. First of all, Jo Hyun Jae pumped up his emotion. For instance: he thought about all the unfair things that happened to him in the past, bad people’s facial expressions, and even the eyes looking alive.
There was a scene towards the beginning where he throws a cup at his secretary. Jo Hyun Jae felt right there and then that Han Do Jun isn’t normal and he was able to articulate this character in an intense manner.
Once the backstory to why the character was committing such evil deeds was established, this made Jo Hyun Jae feel like he was able to breathe again. He paid close attention to the word “lacking in something”.
Jo Hyun Jae’s character Do Jun in this drama has never received anything resembling love. His father was so obsessed with money and honor that he turned his own son Do Jun into an outcast. Also, before Yeo Jin (Kim Tae Hee) was forced into a comatose state and ended up on the 12th floor, Do Jun had nobody swearing loyalty to him because he is just the illegitimate child and he was far from the father’s eye (meaning he was never the father’s favorite.)
Jo Hyun Jae said, “It is natural for Do Jun to be cold-hearted. Do you know why? Do Jun has no one except for people who just wanted to use him for something, people like Secretary Min and President Go.”
Jo Hyun Jae spoke about the latter part of the drama where he and his wife (Chae Jung An) had a sudden melodramatic development in their relationship. Jo Hyun Jae explained that this is because Do Jun was not being loved enough by others. Do Jun really liked Chae Young a lot. However, instead of being loved in return by someone that he likes, he was mocked and received scornful looks. Because of this Do Jun became crooked. He got betrayed by someone he trusted, people looked down on him on the inside just because he was the child of a concubine and this was able to win a legitimization of his evil deeds.
Jo Hyun Jae said that even Yeo Jin is no different from Do Jun and is pretty much the same as the villain in the end. This is a statement that would make you open up your eyes really big.
“Yeo Jin is a villain too. The only different thing between Do Jun and Yeo Jin was that Yeo Jin had Yongpal (Joo Won) that gave her the will to do good. There was no such person around Do Jun. At the end of it all, the only things that Do Jun had were Chae Young and his emotions, I tried my best to express this.”
Jo Hyun Jae didn’t waver even if he was criticized partially because the drama turned out to be makjang (extreme scenario soap opera).  “To an actor it’s really about doing the best he can with his role. For the viewers’ part, it is their role to say whether they like the drama or not, or if it is a makjang drama or not. Even if the character description I received for Han Do Jun is lacking, I felt the responsibility to explain everything onscreen by thinking about what the writer was trying to convey initially. I have no intentions to make any scene strange and hard to understand. I am going to use figure of speech here to explain this. I am going to use singing a song as an analogy. Even if the song is really not that great but if the singer can sing it really well, then it can make up for the lack, right?”
With an impactful villain role like this, the public is now aware about the actor Jo Hyun Jae. What would Jo Hyun Jae’s next choice be? There is much curiosity in the character’s voice and those look in the eyes that would burst out of his body.


Viewers who criticize/blame the actors when their characters start behaving strangely/incomprehensibly are way out of line.  Criticize them if they are doing a bad job portraying their character. Actors may also be blamed for their choice of project. But when it comes to story and character development, that is no longer within the actor’s purview. Criticize/blame the writers  for incomprehensible character and story developments. The actors are just there to give life to the writers’ vision of the drama and its various characters.
The writer of this article wrote: “with an impactful villain role like this….”
Actually, on paper Han Do Jun is a so-so villain. His saving glory is that he is portrayed by JHJ. Han Do Jun became remarkable, noticeable and impactful only because the actor portraying him is Jo Hyun Jae.

JHJ Post YP Int-23 JHJ Post YP Int-24



Credit: Photos as labelled; English translation by Jenny Park. Thanks! Edited by Prissymom.


One thought on “Jo Hyun Jae Post-Yongpal Interview (14) – The secret of portraying a villain successfully according to JHJ

  1. Good actor is like an empty glass and filling it up with the content of the production team.
    JHJ is now recognised as an artist that can put it altogether in a professional ways!

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