Another thing I like about Lee Je-hoon’s interview is how consistent he is with his answers. He still think of himself as someone who is not fun to be with, but he is like a wholly different person when it comes to his favourite subjects: movies and acting. I think a person looks the best when s/he is talking about what s/he loves the most, with all the passion and enthusiasm for the interests. The actor talks a bit more about Signal in the interview with ELLE, also sharing about his (possible) ideal type. Read on and enjoy the interview^^
His normal self is different compared to his character Park Hae-young in the recent popular drama Signal; while the young Liutenant was a guy full of enthusiasm, the actor himself is a clean and upright man. This time, he comes out as a sexy, masculine guy thanks to the combination of the man and various clothes like the sleeveless leather jacket. “I am the calm type in real life but I enjoy every moment as much as I can when doing photo shoots or projects, channeling the sense of freedom through them. Just like the different looks I sport today, be it dark or decadent, I feel great to be able to express them.” That was Lee Je-hoon’s answer.
He talked about his movie Phantom Detective in the interview for the pictorial. Describing his character Hong Gil-dong, the leader of a private detective agency Hwalbindang and a private detective who is irritating and cowardly at times, he said, “I did have worries whether this type of character would be able to gain love from the audience but from the acting perspective, it was a fun character to portray. Be it the movie’s background or the visuals, everything is unfamiliar, including the characters’ way of dressing themselves, but the fresh aspect of it will surely capture the audience’s attention. To me, it is a creative movie never seen or heard of in this country’s film history.” There is no doubt that he has a high expectation on his new project.
Shades of Lee Je-hoon
Be it for acting or life, he is always serious about those things. Now, Lee Je-hoon is letting go of himself, becoming sexier and more daring in front of the camera. Off screen, he is still the 34-year old Lee Je-hoon, whose intention of communicating with the public looms in his mind. We pursued another shade of the flexible Lee Je-hoon.
The Chief Editor gave us a mission to uncover ‘the delinquent Lee Je-hoon’.
Really? I should have acted more like a delinquent then…(laughs)
Looks like you enjoyed the concept of ‘Manly Lee Je-hoon’ and ‘Sexy Lee Je-hoon’ today to the fullest. To tell you the truth, we were surprised that you were able to focus on the concept better than what we thought.
Since this is a job in which I have got many eyes on me, I am careful for there are times when I need to act more like myself, but there are times when I have to evaluate myself and check (analyze) the situation one more time. I am the calm type in real life but I enjoy every moment as much as I can when doing photo shoots or projects, channeling the sense of freedom through them. Just like the different looks I sport today, be it dark or decadent, I feel great to be able to express them.
Now that we met you, we realize that you speak in a very straightforward manner. Didn’t you have any moment in the past when you were in a rebellious phase or going through a different path?
Um…there was no exact moment of going against the norm. I was a troublemaker and a bundle of trouble in elementary school but I became well-mannered when I went through the junior high and high schools. I guess that I matured little by little with age. Although the ability to express oneself without hesitation can be an advantage, I also feel that it can cause damage to someone.
To be honest, you did not have that much opportunity to portray gentle characters in your works. Although Signal‘s Liutenant Park (Hae-young) was an elite (referring to his job), he had a high tendency to lean towards the dumb-like aspect. Personally, we watched Signal without missing any episode. How do you feel as an actor when a particular genre drama managed to generate a sensation like this?
Although all my past works have their own meanings to me, I could experience myself the public interest and love I received through this project. I am amazed that people had come to cast the light on and remember the real cases which became the story’s motifs. Of course, I do not wish for our drama to become a simple thriller that is purely for entertainment purpose. I hope for the viewers to feel like it is something that happened to me, and for the drama to be a source of comfort and hope for the people who go out of their lines to fix the problems with all their might in this difficult and unreasonable world.
Hence, you could not be careless even if you were in the position of acting because of the heavy message.
Yes. All the actors did not treat the characters as functional roles; instead, we tried to understand the feelings of the victims and people around them as closely as we could and put our utmost effort to get close to them. Not only the cast but the writer and the production team all worked hard for the effort not to be in vain, so we were so amazed and thankful that our sincerity had been conveyed to the public. I used to choose my project based on my experience or the possibility for me to try out the roles but from now on, I think I should evaluate the significance behind each and every project before taking the next step.
Your combination with Jo Jin-woong and Kim Hye-soo was as perfect as it seemed to be.
I am close with (Jo) Jin-woong hyung since we did three movies together before. Although we only communicated with each other through the walkie-talkie in the drama, the trust we had in each other made it possible to act comfortably. He is a precious brother whom I must meet in another project. Kim Hye-soo is the senior I watched since I was a kid, and she is literally the representative actress of this country. I could not believe that I was able to act alongside her. I was nervous when I first met her, but she quickly opened up, making conversations and talking about a lot of things. I thought, ‘Ah, so this is how she did not get shaken after a long time and defend her position (in the industry) until now. I looked up at her with admiration.
Although we knew it would not happen, we quietly looked forward to your love line with Kim Hye-soo back then.
You’ve done a good job restraining yourself (laughs). Later, if there is a chance for us to work together again, I want to act in a story of love that cannot be realized or a melodrama featuring an ‘older woman and younger guy’ couple. Try to imagine it. That is if you dare to do so.
Right after Signal concluded its run, you went to Africa together with the international relief organization, Oxfam.
Last year, I went to Bantayan Island in Philippines which was hit by the typhoon and this time, I had the chance to visit a refugee camp in Tanzania. It was the place where refugees took shelter avoiding the civil war. We helped to install water tanks and witnessed the effect of war at the cost of people’s lives there. Simple things like clean water to drink, wash ourselves with, and brush our teeth, are readily available for us over here in surplus but for them, it was out of question. In the future, if there is a chance for me to do so, I want to become the eyes and ears for these people who are suffering like this, no matter where they are. I want to send the message that if we can provide some support to them, they will be able to keep living onto that hope.
It seems that you have a lot of interest in how the world works.
Life. I have a lot of interest in the matter related to people’s lives. I started acting because I liked it, and I have my own goal, that is to dedicate my entire life to show a memorable acting. But then, it is not something that can be achieved by myself. It is only possible when there is a good script and good director; in order to capture the scenes, we need filming and lighting director, and so on. Now that I have witnessed how a lot of people came together and worked hard with effort to complete a project, I realized it within myself, ‘There is nothing in this world that can be done alone’. I felt a sense of duty and started to think about what is the best way to reciprocate the love I received from the public, aside from doing my best in my work. Things like donations and volunteer activities are neither temporary events nor things to be proud of. Just like acting being my destiny, this is something that must be done. That is the notion I thought of as I get older.
Your new movie Phantom Detective will be screened in May. Based on the movie introduction, the main character Hong Gil-dong seems to be more like a comic book character that is rather peculiar.
There are a lot of bad sides to him although he is the male lead. Mean and cowardly, he gets prickly when he has to communicate with other people. He is a guy filled with darkness inside him. He cannot fight but he is quick-witted and make use of people’s psychology to protect himself or lying as his last resort. He utilizes those unusual traits to get his job done. I did have worries whether this type of character would be able to gain love from the audience but from the acting perspective, it was a fun character to portray. Be it the movie’s background or the visuals, everything is unfamiliar, including the characters’ way of dressing themselves, but the fresh aspect of it will surely capture the audience’s attention. To me, it is a creative movie never seen or heard of in this country’s film history.
It is also receiving a lot of attention for being Director Jo Sung-hee’s latest project after A Werewolf Boy.
When I was filming Bleak Night, the director was also at the academy (KAFA) doing End of Animal. We saw and greeted each other, and that was the extent of our relationship at that time. I was so happy and thankful for the offer to work together for Phantom Detective which came near my discharge from army. After watching his movies Don’t Step Out of the House (2009), End of Animal (2010), and A Werewolf Boy (2012), I wonder if there is another director with this kind of outlook on the world like him. I wanted to fully immerse myself in the director’s world and I like that I got to run inside that world. After working together with him, I do not think that there is a director as thoughtful as him. I was surprised to see him listening to different opinions and understanding the staff’s perspective. I understand now why people were all about him. I want to work with the director again.
You are also going on variety programs to promote Phantom Detective.
Yes. Somehow watching my old movies made think that I should make more use of my heart(?). I always do photo shoots or interviews when my movies are being released but this time, I’m going all out and participating actively (in promotions). I go on variety programs and also radio broadcasts besides other things.
We have never expected to be able to see actor Lee Je-hoon on a variety program which involves running and rolling around.
I think I have become more flexible compared to before. I know it myself that I am a no-fun person but I cannot just let it be just like that. Even in the past, I used to talk only about my works and the characters I portrayed in the interviews. I wanted it to be like that. If I let the public know about the person Lee Je-hoon, I was worried that it would have a harmful effect on the projects; the characters might not be able to fully exist in the stories. Now, my thoughts have changed a bit. Although too much exposure can invite problems, at certain point I have come to realize that I need to allow the public for watching and differentiating creative works from reality. That is why I am opening up to many things I did not before.
You think of yourself as a no-fun person.
Yes. That is because when there is a need to talk, I always turn serious. There are people who can make you burst out laughing (his way of describing the laugh is so cute! Kkaruru~). I am someone who is severely lacking in the humour and wit department. If only I can be someone with sense in both real life and the projects, becoming the right person as a mood maker…maybe I need time. It will not come out natural if it is forced.
Aside from acting, what are the things that you are interested in or devoted your time to?
I do not really have anything aside from movies. Ever since I was young, I really loved watching movies (his childhood dream was to become a video rental shop owner). It did not occur to me all of a sudden; I did not go ‘I want to act!’ and make up my mind to do so. The actors who appeared on the screen felt like close people to me. Although there were times I had doubts but I thought that this would be something I must do. At this point, the will to meet even better projects and show even better acting grow stronger, and I think it has something to do with my personal life as well. When I have time, naturally I will watch various movies while analyzing how the director and the cast made the movies. I will also think whether it will be suitable to incorporate the same approach into my next project. It is neither because of my sense of duty (towards his line of work) nor me inviting stress to myself, but because I enjoy it very much. Besides that, I listen to songs and go traveling. I also like to meet up with longtime friends and acquaintances to have a long conversation with them.
Even if you live doing your favourite thing, won’t it be difficult when you are consumed by that passion as you continue to do it?
That could be the case. But to me, luckily (my heart) is still fluttering (for it). Be it creating other ways of living aside from acting or accumulating wealth, I have thought of doing neither. Of course, there are times when this job becomes difficult and tiring but I would remember the time I feel so happy watching the movies. Whether it is by or against my will, if I can no longer act, movies will continue to be the most important thing in my life like it has always been. There is not much I can talk about if we are to leave it out. That is why I am a not a fun person (laughs).
Ever have the thought of feeling lonely get to you?
It seems that my loneliness has been filled because there are movies (beside me). Of course, I want to date and the longing I have to meet someone is huge. But then, when I am alone, the loneliness does not pierce through my heart. Maybe I will experience it once I get older? I am not entirely sure if it is related to me living with my family; because I am not entirely alone. There is family and warmth when I go home.
What kind of woman will attract you? We are curious about that.
I am sure that as we go by, the external factors will not be that important. What matters is the charms that person has. I think I am attracted to people who are positive, bright, considerate, and laughs well. A person who steadily makes effort in the relationship? Nowadays, I feel attracted towards a person who is not easily satisfied and make endless effort to develop herself.
So the possibility for you to fall in love at the first sight is quite low.
Yes. But then, as I keep doing this job, I realize that it is not easy to meet new people over a long course of time. Now that I think of it, it must be because of the tie which did not get connected. It’s a pity then.
You were once the icon of first love alongside Suzy! We also want to see you acting as a friendly man again, just like your character in Introduction to Architecture.
I would like to do that too. Although there are actors who continuously receive love because the continue to do what they are good at, I don’t imitate what I have done before and wish to continuously show different sides of me to the viewers. That is why there were many instances where I did not take any break and continue to make my choices. I am still looking for a role which the public can comfortably relate to and also fulfill the expectations I have. Please wait a little longer. By the way, don’t it feel like I have become more serious today?
Um…so what if you are serious? A serious man is more likely to be a real man. Plus, with you joining variety programs soon, there will be changes within yourself.
Yes. Next time when we meet each other, you might be asking, ‘(Lee) Je-hoon, why are you so nonsensical like this?’ (laughs)
Credit to ELLE Korea