The bodyguard in the drama Love in the Moonlight/Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, Kwak Dong-yeon, and the 20-year old actor’s mindset.
MOONLIGHT KWAK DONG YEON
What is one thing that has changed for you prior to and after filming the drama Moonlight Drawn by Clouds? Mindset.
What do you mean by mindset? Nowadays I’m doing interviews almost everyday and more people recognized me compared to before. But then, rather than feeling happy because of the recognition, it’s more about feeling less worried to have people regarding me as someone younger through this series.
Did you have the image of someone younger before? But you don’t appear baby faced, though? Right, I’ve never heard someone saying that I’m baby-faced, not even once. However, a lot of people always see me as a student because of the dramas like My Husband Got A Family, Inspiring Generation, Adolescence Medley, and through the variety shows Radio Star and I Live Alone. Although it was true that I was still a student at that time, I was worried if that image of mine would stick around for a long time. These days, the thing I like to hear the most is when people say that they didn’t realize that the bodyguard Byung-yeon in Moonlight was the same Kwak Dong-yeon in those shows. I have the thought that from now on, this is the beginning for me.
You are now 20 years old; although your character is in charge of protecting someone and has faced difficulties in his life, it is still a young age. It is different to be 19 back in those days as compared to now. In those times, it was the age where some would already be married, so it would be enough to assume that one is already matured even at that age. Although there was not much time for me to prepare for the role right after I accepted the offer, it was also my assignment to fully understand the background of my role as the bodyguard in the series, as well as the historical background of it. It was difficult at first, but I think I got to understand it well as the time went by.
You even went to Cebu for the reward vacation earned through the success of the drama. I had so much fun and played around as if there was no tomorrow, to the point of feeling that it was such a waste to even go to sleep. There were a few people who went there first and some who arrived slightly later than us, but I was spending the whole time with (Park) Bo-gum hyung, who was there with me until we went back to Korea.
What do you do after returning from the vacation? My schedule is packed with interview sessions. Whenever I finish a drama, I would always watch the whole series from the beginning until the end to monitor myself as I go through my own acting; this time around, there isn’t much time to do so and I only got to watch half of the drama so far.
How did you happen to become an actor? I was originally a trainee preparing to become part of a band. Over the course of my 3 years as a trainee, the only places I knew were the practice room, the school, and my home. Then, the agency told me to take up acting lessons and I found it to be fun and interesting. I went to my first audition and got the role of Jang-gun for the drama My Husband Got a Family. That was how my acting career began.
How did you manage to pass through your first audition? At that time, I was required to recite only two lines for the audition. When asked, “Jang-gun, are you coming back from school?” Then I had to answer, “Yes.” “You should eat something.” My line would be, “I’m not eating.” Those were the two lines: “Yes” and “I’m not eating.” I was wondering on the preparation to be done for these two lines; perhaps, I was thinking whether there was actually something to prepare after all. Hence, I decided to do my very own analysis of the character Jang-gun. Maybe the director saw that effort and looked on me favourably.
Are you saying that you analyzed the character Jang-gun based on those two lines alone? When I looked at the synopsis, there was a part describing Jang-gun’s relationship with the main characters. I included that as well. For instance, in the description of the mother’s role, it was stated that ‘a mother who is having a hard time because of her immature son’. I thought that the line had already showed Jang-gun’s character. That was how I came out with about 10 pages of description detailing Jang-gun’s inner personality and outward appearance.
That was in 2012. You seem to have worked continuously since then until now without any rest. After my first drama, I acted in the drama Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love as the young version of Prince Dongpyeong. It was also the point I started taking acting seriously as my job. Although I only appeared for like an episode in the series, I found the process of preparing myself for the role itself interesting. From that point onward, I never had any doubt on whether to continue acting or not, not even once. It is always refreshing and enjoyable every single time.
How do you spend your free time? You have spent quite some time as a trainee, so it seems like you sing a lot during your free time. I don’t really sing much, since I did that a lot during my trainee days. Instead, I do listen to a lot of songs regardless of the genre, from old pop to girl group songs. I’m the type that will choose the songs to listen to depending on their ability to amplify my emotions at that given moment. If it’s a rainy day like today, I would choose John Mayer’s songs; on the days I feel joyful, I would listen to Twice’s songs.
Do you release your stress just from doing that alone? I also go out to take photos, fishing, playing ice hockey, or hiking. Of course, I also watch a lot of movies. When I find a liking on a certain director or actor, I will find their works and watch them all.
Which one (among the directors and actors) is your favourite? I like Director David Fincher and actors Edward Norton and Jo Jin-woong sunbae-nim. Everyone already know this fact, but every single David Fincher’s movies are not boring at all. His movies are all enjoyable but Gone Girl and Fight Club are the best.
Edward Norton and Jo Jin-woong are somehow an unfamiliar combination, though. Even when both of them aren’t the main characters of their movies, I think of them as cool actors who have the ability to digest their characters in their works. That is the reason for me to respect both Edward Norton and Jo Jin-woong sunbae-nim. I have always wanted to act alongside Jo Jin-woong sunbae-nim, and the chance has presented itself. The filming for movie Man of Will will commence soon, with Jo Jin-woong portraying the titular role of Kim Chang-su. The name was used by Baek Beom Kim Gu before he changed it to Baek Beom, and the movie is about his life in the prison.
You are successful even in your first movie, to be able to meet your mentor through it. It is. Compared to those of same age as me, I think one thing that makes me successful is not about finding a job earlier than them or financial stability, but rather finding out early on about the thing to be done in order for me to find happiness. I want to be able to do my job well, as it is something I wish to do. Even after shooting this movie, I think I will continue to want to act until the day I die.