THE UNEXPECTED JANG DONG-YOON
Luck might find anyone, but it is rare to have someone holding on to the opportunity offered by such luck. Jang Dong-yoon did not expect to become an actor, and now, he’s meeting people as an unexpected rookie actor.
From your debut drama Solomon’s Perjury to School 2017, the characters you have to portray require you to wear school uniforms and act alongside fellow actors with similar acting experience as yours. Do all of you become each other’s motivation?
Rather than motivation for each other, do you mean friendly rivalry? I happened to act in a long of school-themed dramas. Perhaps, because we all started acting around the same time, I came to depend on them a lot. I also learn a lot from the actors I act along with.
You became an actor through an unusual route. What made you decide to embark on this route?
Life doesn’t always flow according to your wish, does it? (laughs) At first, I had this kind of thought: ‘If I let go of this chance, when will I get to try getting into acting?’ It was an opportunity, as well as a turning point for me. I don’t think that my debut story is that special, since a lot of actors around me also jumped into acting after getting an unexpected opportunity. The only thing that was unique about my debut was getting a call from the agency after they saw me on the news.
You majored in Finance and Economics in the university.
I still have a year left, so I am returning to school and planning to graduate next year. After I debuted last year, I have been continuously portraying the main characters on my projects. From an actor’s point of view, I think that the opportunity becomes a chance to discover my own talent. It is such a fortunate thing for me to be able to meet good projects and portray great characters. It is something I am thankful for. But then, as someone whose acting experience is still limited, it can be a burden when I have to portray an important character. Because of that burden I feel, it becomes a motivation for me to work harder.
Is there any difference you have experienced before and after your debut?
It is so different. Prior to my debut, I was thinking of working in the finance sector. I already passed the first written test for actuarial license and I was preparing for the second test. Now, instead of attending classes, I am going to the filming site.
Did you have any regret like wishing you studied acting or debuted earlier if you knew that you would become an actor?
If I could see into the future, I might do exactly that. However, I find it neither a regret nor a waste that I studied something which is not related to acting. Plus, there aren’t a lot of people who make use of their majors to find jobs these days.
You seem to have more good memories of your school days, compared to those who debuted earlier. What kind of student you were back then?
I attended a high school with strong enthusiasm when it comes to academic performance, so the only thing I did was studying diligently for the college entrance examination. One should date and get to play around in high school but I didn’t get to do that. It’s too bad, because there were those sweet, fresh feelings one could only experience during that age. When I entered the university, I did go to group dates and even went clubbing, but only twice.
Although you are from Daegu, your accent is barely noticeable.
People from Daegu who came to Seoul for study tend to use Gyeongsang-do dialect and Seoul way of speaking. The dialect will jump out whenever I talk with my high school friends and my family. When I am acting, I will change the accent naturally, like flicking a switch.
Among the projects you have taken, which character of yours resemble your real life personality the most?
Gom Gae-bal from webdrama Game Development Girls and Uhm Gi-seok from KBS Drama Special If We Were a Season. Gae-bal is very shy and simpleton, and I’m exactly like that. When I was younger, I was like Gi-seok, an ordinary boy who is immature and doesn’t even know what it is like to harbour feelings for someone.
What was your dream originally?
I wanted to become a movie director. When I was a senior in high school, I applied during rolling admission period to Korean Literature Department (of a university) but did not pass. But then, I passed through the regular admission to enter a department with good rate of employment. Even when I went to the university, I was wondering whether the major I chose was a perfect fit for me. Despite being a liberal arts student, I liked Maths, but there were lots of friends around me who were good in Maths.
Have you ever rebelled against your parents’ wishes?
Although it’s not to the level of rebel, I entered a literature academy in Daegu when I was a senior in high school. I have always loved writing and I had a keen interest in creative writing. I also won a few times in Youth Literature Festival, so I thought that I have the talent for it. But then, my parents were secretly anxious when I was thinking of making it as my job. Although they didn’t say it out loud, I could feel their worry.
Do you have any favourite movie director?
David O. Russell, who directed Joy and Silver Linings Playbook, and Guy Ritchie, who directed Snatch and Sherlock Holmes. I like watching movies since I was young, regardless of the genre.
When did you think that acting had become a perfect fit for you?
At first, I thought that acting and studying are two different things. If you can get the outcome you want according to how much effort you put into studying, I considered acting as a field where you need to be born with talents in order to do that. But then, I was mistaken. Acting will also produce a desirable outcome if you research the character carefully and work diligently. I can feel the pleasure in acting at such moment. It seems that this feeling won’t be the same if I happen to do another kind of work. What kind of actor I want to be? The senior actors said that acting is a job which requires you to deliver sincerity, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. It is important for an actor to know the techniques, but I believe that they will come naturally with enough experience.
If you are to portray a character who is applying for jobs, you might bring the authenticity to it better than anyone else.
Ah! I will be able to portray it very well. (laughs)
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