“A talented person cannot win a hard working person, and a hard working person cannot win a person enjoying what he does.” These words flashed through my mind first when seeing actor Joo Won. He extended his territory from musical to drama and has been walking on a smooth uphill path. He neither went through harsh training period nor sadness of being unknown. His drama debut was also eye-catching. A strong impression was left as a competitor of Yoon Si Yoon in KBS2 drama “Baker King Kim Tak Gu” (2010). He never experienced any jinx in his second year. He was given the Baeksang Male New Actor Award by playing his next project of KSB2 drama “Ojakgyo Brothers”. All his projects in the next three years are all successful and he is named as “Ratings Man”.
He has been doing so well on TV but he suddenly went back to do stage performance a year ago. There is only one reason. “Let me go back to the stage which makes me flutter!”. The performances ran for 7 months and its average seat occupancy rate was 95%. In actual fact, tickets of all performances were sold-out. He is coming back again to play a drama after recharging his energy from the musical stage. He is casted to play KBS2 drama “Cantabile Romance” which will be broadcast in October. Since he is offered to play the character of a talented musician in the drama, he is now focusing on taking violin and music conductor lessons more than half of the time during a week.
Because Joo Won never steps back once, it is hard to say it is simply his “luck” that ranks him in the top class. The dynamics which he enjoys himself in any situations is his unique “positive energy”. He enjoys filming overnight, even filming is hard, he chats with staff in film set and laughs with them, he confessed that he is a mood maker. In order to become an awesome actor when he is his 40’s, Joo Won is an “honest” actor who enjoys every moment and has entered the star timeline of his acting life.
#1 Looking for dreams in drama group
~ When you were young, was your dream to become an actor?
“No, when I was young, I sang solo a lot in church choir. I received lots of praises for having a beautiful voice. Even relatives said I could have become a singer when I got older. However, I lost my confidence in singing when my voice started to change so I couldn’t even think of working in entertainment industry, especially due to my look, my confidence fell to the bottom when I was in junior high school. At that time, I was wearing spectacles, I was really a very ordinary student. I wasn’t tall either, about 170-175cm. But I grew 10 cm taller when I was in senior high school and now I am 185cm tall.”
~ Then how did you get interested in acting?
My life was really dull and uninteresting during junior high school days. I was going through puberty and I had no dreams. I wasn’t the one who studied well either, I was steadily doing duties of a school captain though. When I was looking for doing something more interesting, I joined a drama group. It was really interesting practicing for performance even late at night. Performing art was good but it was much better when doing projects together with friends. I am totally immersed in performing arts to the extent that I can’t see others.”
~ Naturally you would enter into a high school of performing arts because those aptitudes suit you best, right?
“Yes. One drama play and one musical play are produced every year in high school of performing arts. So I gradually became to know things like preparation of the project, performance, role of actors. Because scholarship is given to student who looks after the theatre in performing arts department, I also looked after the theatre. At that time, I always helped out sunbaes with stage setting, I was advised to try out working as a staff. However I found out receiving applauses on stage was much better. I can’t forget the musical performance of “Joseph The Dreamer” (Translator’s comments: perhaps it is also named as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”). I played the protagonist’s brother and it was my first time since birth dancing on stage, I held a microphone and sang. After the performance, teacher said “you guys are already 3rd year senior high schoolers, you have to get on stage and be more skilful, don’t be too elated. You should be more enriched with your studies. If one of you guys could have become a musical actor, that person would be Joo Won.” I was surprised when a finger was pointed at me who wasn’t even a protagonist. At that time, I thought “Then, I really have to do my favourite acting properly.”
#2 Became a musical actor in 2006
~ You did musical “Altar Boyz” in 2006. I want to know about your debut process
I studied Theatre and Performing Arts at Sung Kyun Kwan University. There wasn’t any huge difference between the life of performing arts department in university and high school. I was the first one going to the theatre doing the cleaning. In one occasion, I sang while I was cleaning on my own in the theatre, a musical actor Han Ji San sunbae heard me singing and recommended me for musical audition. I failed because first I didn’t do much preparation and I didn’t have any confidence. At that time, producer said to me that was an unofficial audition. I was told to go for an official audition one month later. I dreadfully didn’t want go for audition but I promised to go after one month. I held out and debuted as a lead in “Altar Boyz”.”
~ After “Altar Boyz”, have you been doing well since then as a musical actor?
“No. I inadvertently debuted as a protagonist but at that time my confidence had fallen. It was like me being a protagonist, but my capability was the lowest when practicing with sunbaes. You know how nervous I was, hence it was hard practicing and looking into the story. After finishing this project, I made a decision that “It is still too early for me to play the protagonist.” So I assisted as doing ensemble in my next project “Singles”. When people around me thought why I demoted myself doing ensemble after debuting as a protagonist but it looked like it was a right decision. At that time, I wasn’t a protagonist and burden had lessened. Because as long as there were no obstacles to the performance, I had confidence and enjoyed being on stage. The musical performances toured in 10 different places but I recovered my confidence again at that time. After that when I played the lead role again on stage, I could act with more flexibility.”
#3 An eye-catching drama debut in 2010
~ How did you make your debut in entertainment industry?
Musical “Altar Boyz” was a topic at that time. Director of my current agency saw the performance and I was offered to work with him. My weight was as much as 85-90 kg when performing “Altar Boyz”, I guess it was pretty rare that he wanted me to work together with him after seeing how I looked. I would say I could see his sincerity.” (Translator’s annotation: I thought it was “Spring Awakening” when he met the director of his agency.)
~ I heard many stories saying you were “weak” when you were casted to play the rival of Yoon Si Yoon in “Baker King Kim Tak Gu”
“Although there were discussions on the casting, I tried not to care and just filmed wholeheartedly. I didn’t hear any news after audition but hyung from agency suddenly rang me and said “You have to get ready for doing drama poster shooting tomorrow. You are 99% casted.” But I wondered “What is 99%?” Even so, I doubted if I was actually casted while I was there doing poster shooting. Before going to the film set, I carefully remembered the lines. Thinking of it now, the lines were so short but I failed many times. However, I adapted to filming soon. I found it enjoyable and interesting. I felt composed when getting along well with staff in film set.”
~ Viewer rating of 50.8% was achieved. I can tell you it was really very popular.
“At that time, I didn’t know how much viewer rating achieved was regarded as amazing. Honestly speaking, I didn’t have any right concept of viewer ratings. I only realized the drama ranked number one in the time slot. Thinking of it now, it was really an unbelievably high viewer rating though. Haha.”
#4 Living in the inflexible entertainment industry with strong tenacity and rising momentum
~ You were awarded with Baeksang New Actor Award by playing your next project of KBS2 “Ojakgyo Brothers”, right?
“I wanted to dance at that time, hahaha. There is a song “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could appear on TV.” Similar to it, I thought “it would be nice if I could also attend the award ceremony once” but I was really very happy having received an award at the ceremony. Until dawn next day after receiving the award, I thought of going to dance in Han River Park because I was still so exhilarated (laugh).”
~ “Bridal Mask” was also a big hit with viewer ratings. This project did have some debates in casting though.
“That’s right. I guess there were many discussions on why I was casted. It wasn’t originally offered to me but it was decided that I played the protagonist due to various reasons. The project and character were good so I selected this drama. Luckily it was well received by viewers so I enjoyed more in filming.”
~ Each of your project was a hit and I guess you also felt the popularity.
“I am not the type who enjoys popularity to the fullest. It looks like I am a bit insensitive with responses around me. Also, you never know how long popularity will last, right? So, I am always prepared for the fall. Because I can play a supporting role or even a much smaller role, I don’t have the distinguished behavior if I play the lead role.”
~ What is the secret to become a “Ratings Man”?
Talking about secret, there are many but I am a person who enjoys the present. I wonder if it does also impact a good result to that at the end. When going to the filming studio, I am full of energy and I am enjoying it. When I was young, I did stage setting and I also managed the theatre, the moment when doing drama and movie, I can see project as a whole. So to some extent, I am a person with meddlesome behaviour. When I am not filming, I just grab the camera, sometimes help out with setting in film set and even go to production team monitoring other actors. Filming overnight is certainly hard most of the time. I will just talk idly with staff to stay awake. I just self-hypnotise myself that “I stayed up all night. I did my best. Joo Won is superb for working so passionately.”
~ Have you ever experienced a slump (translator’s annotation: decline in progress)?
Every time before starting a project, there is a slump. I felt the same when doing “Bridal Mask” and “Good Doctor”. Generally, I experience a slump when I worry about how I am going to digest the character of other projects. Even now I am experiencing a slump preparing for “Cantabile Romance”. It is hard going through a slump every time but it won’t stop me from acting. Acting is a vocation. Even I am worrying, I still find it very enjoyable once filming has started.”
~ Which character and project do you love the most?
“Park Si On in Good Doctor. Autism with savant syndrome but he is a doctor. It was difficult to totally digest that many things. I had many worries before correctly grasping the character. The most difficult thing was to fine-tune my acting techniques. I have to avoid the mistaken views and prejudice against autistic patients so I played out this character more discreetly than other projects. It was very hard to portray such a character to be favoured by people. When finishing “Good Doctor”, I felt feeble like I had a hole in my heart. My chest was so chilled to the extent that I felt my heart was feeble like I lost a loved one. For some reasons, viewers and I had heartache when thinking about we can’t find Si On anymore.
#5 Hey days to come in 40’s
~ After attracting popularity in dramas and KBS2 “1N2D, why did you suddenly select musical?
“I have been perseveringly wanting to do musical. When finishing “Good Doctor, I heard about a good project of “Ghost” and I went for audition. (Translator’s annotation: I thought Joo Won went for “Ghost” audition when he was filming 7th Grade Civil Servant. Did the reporter write it wrong or Joo Won has a bad memory?) Certainly I will have less exposure on TV and movie and I will be forgotten but it still doesn’t matter. On the other hand, after selecting this project, I ended up with having more self-confidence. Shall I say I won’t die even going back to small screen after doing musical? If I am afraid of leaving the small screen even for a short while, how do I do military service? Because of this, I don’t worry at all going to do military service. Also, hyungs said because I lived a strictly disciplined life in performing arts department, I can do better than anyone else in military life.”
~ What was the reason you wanted to do musical again?
During high school days, the feelings of my first time standing on stage made me “tremble” and “flutter”. I guess it is pretty reasonable that I want to go back to such a stage. I can then remember those feelings and commitments of that time. Also, personally I think I look more attractive standing on stage than in movie and drama. Unknowingly, I have the confidence of being more impressive when I am standing on the stage. I feel people standing on the stage are somehow so special. Therefore I also want to do musicals in future.”
~ I wonder if present moment is actor Joo Won’s hey days?
“The days haven’t come yet. I wonder if my best and colourful time will come in my 40’s? Leonardo DiCaprio is my role model. He has just turned 40. He is more splendid now in his 40’s than when he was a handsome man in his 20’s. I really had goose bumps when watching his acting recently. I never thought he could be so mad in acting. I also want to become a recognizable actor like him when I am in my 40’s.”
~ From now on, do you have any plan and target?
“It is not that I don’t have much greed. I just want to play well the characters which suit my age. I am offered to play a talented musician in a new project “Cantabile Romance”. I started taking violin, piano and music conductor lessons a month ago. I shivered when seeing the back of a music conductor doing performances. This time I want to convey these feelings to viewers through small screen. I want to go to film set sooner.”
Written by Kim Yeon Ji, Naver
Photos IS Photo
Japanese translation by mjw0930 http://mjw0930.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-2655.html
English translation by manyearsago @ soompi (English translation was done based on Japanese translation, translated contents could be slightly different from the original source)
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