This article was fully translated to English by my friend Jenny Park. It is so long and difficult to translate, it would have taken me a week or more if I had translated it myself. So, thank you very much for your help, Jenny!
Article title: In “Yongpal” did Jo Hyun Jae go over and beyond Jung Woong In as a villain? And to this question Jo Hyun Jae said that it was more or less a harmonious act.
[My Daily= Ha Seol Hee reporter] 2015.10.06. 12:16
I didn’t know that there was an evil face in actor Jo Hyun Jae. With him having big eyes and pale skin, no matter who saw him they would automatically think that he has a proper appearance and a nice voice. Probably this is why the public locked him up in playing sweet characters.
However, Jo Hyun Jae broke his typical image since his debut 16 years ago. Recently, he was in an SBS Wednesday-Thursday drama that just ended as the character Han Do Jun where he made a strong impact to the audience as he played his first villain role. We see another face of Jo Hyun Jae as he played an evil character who tries to snatch away his half-sister Han Yeo Jin’s position as the group’s successor and also her possession.
Jo Hyun Jae said that this character was his first villain role and it was memorable because he was complimented more than he expected. He also said that he didn’t know that he was going to be complimented this much, but fortunately the audience liked what he did. He mentioned that he was very happy that something like this happened to him.
Honestly, a lot of people wondered if it would be suitable for him to act as a villain when they heard about him playing a villain role. Jo Hyun Jae could have felt the burden after hearing about this but he mentioned that he always wanted to act as a villain. Apparently, there was a part where he wanted to express the role in his own way.
“I never really had a chance to play a villain before. It also wasn’t fitting for the situation at the time. I usually play a person with a proper image so this was the case where I didn’t get an opportunity due to this. I think that this time around the directors and the writers saw the other side of me and decided to cast me because of it. As an actor I am not close-minded about a particular role I play and that also goes with acting as a villain. I don’t really think of it as the role of a villain. I just look at it as a character inside a drama,” said Jo Hyun Jae.
Jo Hyun Jae doesn’t really divide the role as good or evil. He looks at it as a character that is living inside a drama. That is why the character Han Do Jun in “Yongpal” that he played isn’t such a villain he thought. He thinks that Han Do Jun has a slightly different side to him than typical villains.
“This character is not a typical villain that you are accustomed to. There is a part where I express the character in my own way. I wanted to show a little more of the inferiority complex in the persona. Since the role I am playing has an inferiority complex and this part of the character directly connects to doing evil deeds. Due to the bad guys around him he becomes even more evil,” said Jo Hyun Jae.
When Jo Hyun Jae was working on his character he didn’t think that Han Do Jun is the type that changes dramatically. He also thought that Han Do Jun wasn’t like that as a child, but the environment he grew up in made him the way he is as an adult. Han Do Jun was raised under a father who made incompetent decisions and he had to survive somehow in a family that was always chasing after power and recognition. Han Do Jun had no choice but to change when he was living as an outcast and even more so since he even took care of Han Yeo Jin. Jo Hyun Jae explained that in order for Han Do Jun to survive in that environment he had to have ambition.
Jo Hyun Jae carefully went over the character Han Do Jun so due to this there was a lot of preparation involved in the process. For example – facial expressions, the eyes, voice, and even breathing methods – he researched and studied all these. He read the script until he was fully satisfied. He thought that it was very important for him to be into Han Do Jun’s character so he researched and kept on studying the character again and again.
“I thought about all the people that I met over the years in my life that resemble villains. There are a lot of them in the world we live in. I am referring to people with strong eyes, facial expressions, and even the situations. It could be the people I know and also people with no relation to me whatsoever. It could also be the things that happened inside my own life. However, when I started to act, I really worked hard to become Han Do Jun in the most simplest way possible. I rather took a lighthearted approach instead,” Jo Hyun Jae said.
The result of Jo Hyun Jae playing his first villain role was a success. Since he lost the reason that gives him strength and this is why he was able to perfectly portray Han Do Jun’s evilness in such a natural way. There were a lot of activities that Jo Hyun Jae wouldn’t normally do in his ordinary life and he even portrayed his emotions that way. He even threw a glass cup to his secretary played by the actor Choi Byung Mo.
Jo Hyun Jae thinks that the writers added the glass throwing scene to make Han Do Jun more evil. “Today’s public tends to enjoy strong emotional acting and I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.”
“I normally don’t do these sort of things so that’s why it looked more sinister. A lot of people repeatedly said that the character was cruel, evil, and even scary. I was rather happy that I was scolded, dramatically speaking. I was able to gain strength in the whole process when people told me that I did a good job acting out the character and also being able to pull it off perfectly. Truth be told, Mr. Choi Byung Mo, an actor who is my senior, really bled when I threw the glass at him in that particular scene. There was some hard particle in the glass that was custom-made for this drama. I felt bad because the filming had to stop temporarily due to the injury of my senior actor. After this incident, I was able to become close to the actor so this made me interact with him better.”
If that is the case, wonder how it was with Jung Woong In that usually plays villain roles. In the drama Jung Woong In plays Chief Lee and this character is able to look back at what he has done but Han Do Jun was evil till the very end so this became a curiosity towards what Jo Hyun Jae really thought regarding this.
Jo Hyun Jae was asked if he went even beyond the veteran villain actor Jung Woong In but Jo Hyun Jae just waved his hand and said that is a bit too much of a compliment for them to say that.
“You don’t even have to say anything more about the senior actor Jung Woong In. I was so glad that a person like Jung Woong In was able to participate in “Yongpal” since he is such a fine actor and all. Saying that I went above and beyond senior Jung Woong In is an exaggeration. I think it is right to say that we were more like a harmonious ensemble. Honestly, most of the people in “Yongpal” are villains in a way. And this part made me think that anyone can be a villain, which is the message of the drama overall. In my case, I am satisfied that I was able to naturally become Han Do Jun by breaking my previous image that everyone has been accustomed to. I am thankful to be told by my long-time fans that I really grew as an actor.”
Through the “Yongpal” project, Jo Hyun Jae’s acting life and his heart towards it has changed. It is even more so because he looked back at his 16 years of acting life and there were some regrets in there.
Jo Hyun Jae said, “In my 20s there were a lot of things that I was regretful. I was acting as if this was just a job since I kept on going without rest and it was a bit chaotic too. I really had no time to take it easy and I really didn’t enjoy myself while acting,” said Jo Hyun Jae. “I think I became more serious as I am in my 30s now. I experienced myself being concerned over how I can do something more unique for my fans. Because of this my work became more precious to me than ever before,” Jo Hyun Jae poured out his heart.
“I want to put a lot of effort into my work because I met this project “Yongpal” while I was thinking about how I can enjoy my work a lot more in my 30s. I want to challenge myself with various projects and diverse genres more than limiting myself to just one particular role. Even if it really isn’t the character per se, I want to be able to change things around a bit genre-wise. I want to be able to meet new kinds of characters and also play them well.”
Credit: Photos as labelled. English translation by Jenny Park. Thanks!