I did not expect to have another pictorial of Lee Je-hoon after he concluded the promotion for his latest movie Phantom Detective last month, but Singles have been so generous to court him for another photo shoot, putting him on a plane to Hawaii earlier this month, on the day of Baeksang Arts Awards. Although he did not get to walk on the red carpet or appear at the event with Signal team, at least we get this pictorial…with his slightly longer hair. Me likey.
Lee Je-hoon’s Thirst
From the drama Signal to the movie Phantom Detective; this year, too, Lee Je-hoon does not rest. The actor, who is always pestered by his own thirst for acting, went to Hawaii’s deep jungle for a retreat, finding his own way to be happy.
The first dinner after touchdown in Hawaii. Lee Je-hoon talked about a character with Director Yoon Sung-hyun, who was sitting beside him (for this photo shoot schedule, Lee Je-hoon traveled together with the Bleak Night director, who is also his best friend). “How about letting him approach his partner like this?” After hearing the suggestion from the actor, Director Yoon answered, “That is one good way, but how about doing it like this?” Their conversations went on until the food was served. “How about a long hair?” “Will it fit the character to dress up like this?” They even talked about the characters’ styling. The staff sitting beside them also threw in their suggestions. Lee Je-hoon listened to them attentively with his round eyes wide open, an unfamiliar expression plastered across his face. It was a well-known secret that he had promised to join Director Yoon’s upcoming project, Hunting Time. The conversation seemed to be about the character in the new movie.
After the table for ten was filled with the dishes, Lee Je-hoon collected himself and did some explanation. “We were talking about how to act out a character in a romantic comedy if I get the opportunity to do it in my next project. ” He had not decided on his next project. Although it had been a little over than months after Signal wrapped up its shooting, he was still choosing his next script. Of course, the schedule for Hunting Time had not been finalized yet. He was just setting a vague image of a character in a romantic comedy. “The best way to immerse yourself into a character is of course through meeting the new character. But the, it seems that I am taking a longer time (to decide). So, I am imagining several possible characters that I can portray well in my next project.” Director Yoon interrupted, “We always meet each other over coffee and each time we meet, he will always bring up a new character to be discussed. I never thought that he will bring it all over here to Hawaii! Hahaha.” Suddenly, the phrase ‘a fool who doesn’t know anything outside acting’ crossed my mind. “Honestly speaking, I am a boring person in real life who can only think of acting and projects. Will it be any different if I have a girlfriend? I might ask her to go for a movie date every time we meet.” The 6-year solo guy Lee Je-hoon cracked a bashful smile.
Once called a ‘total no-fun’ person by fans (who??), the situation had changed nowadays. For his officially first movie lead role in Phantom Detective, he guested on several variety programs to promote his movie; unlike Park Hae-young who always frowned, he was all smiles on the screen. “I thought that while I was already at this, I might as well did it with enthusiasm. Although I started on being funny but still ended up looking all serious, I still had the desire to make people laugh.” Perhaps, his interest and concern towards doing a romantic comedy is an extension of that desire. However, he did not acquire his confidence in making people laugh through his appearance on the programs. “If the public doesn’t find my new image awkward, I want to go into a new drama or movie carrying that image with me. It is not confidence but rather the expectation (from the public).” Lee Je-hoon was an actor who did not look at the characters first. Although his answers were almost like textbook sentences, the division between main and supporting characters was not important in his thought. “When I read the test (draft), the image of the character will naturally play out on my mind, and it is the sign for me to get onto the real script. My heart will continue to beat fast when I meet that kind of project. As long as the story is interesting, it doesn’t matter what kind of role I am being offered with; even for one particular character, it will be different according to the actors portraying it.”
He shot to fame through the movie Bleak Night, but the character he was initially offered to was not the dominating friend Ki-tae; instead, it was the mature Dong-yoon who worked hard to defend his friend (the role would later be assigned to Seo Joon-young). “I look forward to new character that will unleash the new image of me through it.” However, rather than always looking forward to the new project, the fear will come to him first. “Every time the project I am working on comes to an end, ‘What is the next thing that I can do?’ That kind of anxiety will come to him. Will I be able to meet a good project again? What kind of acting should I show in my new project? Until when will I be able to choose the projects I want to work on? My head will be filled with concerns and worries.”
Lee Je-hoon’s worries started with his desire. Just like any other actors, he wanted to show a new image of him with every project he took. However, his reason was a bit different. “Since I started out late, there are still so many roles which I haven’t tried yet.” He believed that he could only portray roles with respect to his current age and image (for the time being). When he first attracted attention through his movies Bleak Night and Introduction to Architecture, he was already in his late 20s. “It was a big relief that I could fit in the roles of high school student wearing uniform and a college freshman. Still, there are a lot of empty corners (with regard to his acting), so I hope to be able to close the gap.” Up until his his enlistment day, he continued going back and forth between different filming sets, but it was not for the reason of maintaining his popularity while he was away doing his military service. Even if he had so little time left, he wanted to leave behind more projects and more characters. “Since I started out late, my thirst for projects only grow bigger. It is enough for me to go on a short vacation between projects. I like to spend the time reading and finding good scripts.” He was someone who did not want to let even one day pass just like that. He was still a youth. No, Lee Je-hoon called himself a ‘hot-blooded youth.’ “The desperation and passion I had when I first debuted still remains intact in my heart. Right now is the most important. I try to avoid having a future image. We don’t even know exactly what will happen tomorrow.” Rather than being immersed in the unclear future, the actor was someone whose focus was on the reality.
Lee Je-hoon recently gained another kind of thirst. “I have been living without being totally in love with someone all this while.” He did not date even once after he received public attention for his acting. “I had a huge concern, wondering if my private life and characters would end up overlapping in the eyes of the viewers. A serious character and a sweet relationship rumour (of the actor) don’t seem right somehow.” Such were the words spoken by a fool who did not know anything outside acting. That man now expressed his wish to date and had started searching for a good woman. “After thinking and worrying a lot about it, I started to ask around, especially to people around me. It’s because of them that I come to believe that the public will be able to see (in projects) that it’s actor Lee Je-hoon, not Lee Je-hoon who is dating someone.”
He has even changed his dating style. His thirst is quite severe. “In the past, I am someone who used to match everything with my partner. But now, I want to be able to lead in the relationship. That is with me taking the lead in order to ensure that my partner will enjoy the relationship.” However, his ideal type is still the same as ever: as obvious as in the textbook. A woman he can communicate well with and a partner who can provide a good influence in the relationship. Maybe he will be seen as a no-fun person. However, even while he was talking about his ideal type, he secretly hinted at his greed. “I hope that when I meet someone, I will like her even more and develop the desire to become a compatible man for her. That is the most ideal relationship in my opinion.” The actor believed that a relationship would also become a good chance for his growth. “But then, who would like me when I can’t even drink, and the only thing we can do for date is watching movies? If I were to take out everything related to movies and songs, there is not much to talk about.” Just like his character Seung-min in Introduction to Architecture, Lee Je-hoon broke into a shy smile while saying that. Ah, this fool who knew nothing except acting.
Back to first dinner on the first day after touchdown in Hawaii. After the meal, Lee Je-hoon and Director Yoon Sung-hyun pored over the small screen of their phones, discussing about filming techniques, different types of cameras, and other complicated things. Difficult jargon is something he is used to. “I have a lot of interest in production process for both drama and movie. I would go beside the filming staff during breaks to ask things here and there, and I learned a lot. There were instances where I followed the hidden camera director (for BTS filming) around and assisted with filming too.” Lee Je-hoon, too, wanted to make his own movie. He was also writing his own scenario secretly. “For me, it doesn’t have to be a director. I am pondering about the way to remain in the world of movies even without being an actor. Maybe being a director is my ultimate dream? But I still have a lot to prepare.” This acting fool is becoming a real part of movie world.
Then, what kind of inspiration did he gain under the blazing sky of Hawaii? “I realize it again: what a great gift it is to be able to work together with good people, and to be able to rest comfortably. It makes me happy just to be able to sit over here!” Although it was not the answer we expected, it was enough to see what matters the most to him. The reason he agreed early on to appear on Director Yoon Sung-hyun’s upcoming movie Hunting Time is not merely loyalty, closeness, or friendship, but only for the reason of being able to work together with good people, which in return be the simplest way to make himself happy. That is also the same reason why he is dreaming of making his own movie. For this acting fool who might immerse himself completely in another project soon, he has found another way to make himself happy. ❤
Credit to Singles Korea