It has been an ardent wish of mine to see the child actors we love to be reunited as main leads of their own, and I was beyond ecstatic to learn about Lee Se-young and Yeo Jin-goo’s casting for The Crowned Clown/The Man Who Became King. They have a 5-year difference in age, but that doesn’t stop them from being so comfortable with each other when the camera is not rolling. I thought that their interview accompanying their pictorial for January’s Cosmopolitan must be as fun as watching them play around in the making of videos, and it is a fun interview! Enjoy the rough translation and please excuse all the broken grammar, both in Korean and English. It’s been a while!
Yeo Jin-goo and Lee Se-young’s Chemistry
Yeo Jin-goo and Lee Se-young are being paired for the latest tvn drama on the Mon-Tue slot, The Crowned Clown/ The Man Who Became King. A good-natured and fun young man paired with clear-minded and strong young lady, their chemistry exploded, going beyond everyone’s expectation.
We were curious on how well these two blend with each other, but our curiosity was soon fed with these two on the set. They were so comfortable to hold conversation with each other, laughing and teasing, proving how exceptional their chemistry is. No matter what the topic of their conversation was, it always started and ended with laughter. That is indeed a beautiful thing to see.
Both of you are starring in the drama The Crowned Clown. Everyone knows that it is the drama adaptation of the movie Masquerade/ Gwanghae, The Man Who Became King.
Yeo Jin-goo (YJG): You’re right. As people know, it is a remake of the movie. First of all, the basic framework is the same: “there is a king and there is a clown who has the same face as the king, masquerading as him”. Our project carries the same motif but when compared to the movie, the drama has additional point in the form of the queen’s love story. The details and description regarding the characters are a bit different from the movie. The king and the clown also have a very different characterization, and the added details make it different enough to be considered as a standalone project. Perhaps, the difference felt between this drama and the movie is what makes this project a very appealing one to the viewers.
What made you, from an actor’s perspective, to be attracted to this project and agreed to join the production? No matter how you see it, there has to be some pressure to carry the burden of the original work’s success.
YJG: Perhaps, if it’s shot following exactly the original, then the burden would have been huge. But then, our drama, just like other remakes, is made using a new style, which makes it different from the original; hence, there is no burden on paying attention on the original. Hence, I thought, “Oh, so there is another way to visualize it.” Since the original is a favourite of mine, of course, it is an honour to be able to star in the remake. Plus, I have always wanted to challenge myself with a dual role in a project. Based on a particular good point of the movie, we are venturing in a new horizon to show a new side to it, thus it makes me comfortable to film a particular scene.
Lee Se-young (LSY): As for me, I really enjoyed reading the synopsis and the script. I also enjoyed watching the original movie but this remake – not even a remake for Japan but for the same country – offers a new interpretation of the story, so there is no pressure on us. Plus, at that time (of her casting process), my onscreen partner had already been confirmed and it was Yeo Jin-goo, so I got even greedier to score the role.
For YJG especially, this would be your second time playing Gwanghae’s character onscreen after the movie Warriors of the Dawn. Personally, it could be another source of burden and pressure for you, so how did you face it?
YJG: The truth is, I should not take things lightly. HAHAHA. So, I had the thought of just following along the team: the great director, scriptwriter, Se-young noona who is sitting beside me right now, and the great seniors like Kim Sang-kyung and Kwon Hae-hyo. I thought to myself, “I should be comfortable alongside them.” So there is no big difference between the two projects. HAHAHA. Rather than focusing on the previous project’s pressure, the fact that I have to portray to characters with clear differences, in a sageuk (historical drama) no less, it gives me a lot of things to ponder and a lot of different ways to get myself worried. So that’s why, I’m always being scolded by the seniors and the director on the set. HAHA.
LSY: What do you mean by scolding? Everyone’s treating him really well. It is easy to see why: when he lets down the edgier side of him, his younger side overflows with energy.
Perhaps that is what makes it easy to see the difference (between the two characters). Both of you shared the same background of being child actors.
YJG: It has been a long time since then and nowadays, I don’t even know the child actors. Hahaha. Perhaps, people also used to look at me and went, “What is up with that child actor?”
LSY: The child actors these days probably did not know us back then, so we are like the grown up actors (who started out later in the industry). Haha.
Then it might be something good (for both of you). For some people, they have the urge to overcome their child actor image, feeling that they have to fight with the ‘younger version of themselves’.
YJG: In my case, I think I did not have such a great difficulty in that area. At least, not yet until now. Rather, it is probably because I get to experience more of the plus factors (from being a child actor). I don’t have the mindset like, “Oh, I need to overcome that!” (against my past).
LSY: If we’re to think about it, I feel that rather than a child actor, we already saw YJG as an actor back then. Instead of being focused on his age, we were only focused on him as an actor.
Both of you seem to have a great relationship with each other, seeing how well you can match to each other’s tunes during the shooting. Do you discuss about your respective strengths a lot now that both of you get along very well? This might be in a class by itself.
LSY: This might come off as a surprise, but I cannot concentrate when I am shooting a scene with Yeo Jin-goo because I keep laughing. HAHAHA. I am really comfortable (with him).
YJG: I can attest to that. Truth to be told, Se-young noona is much more senior (in acting) compared to me. When I was younger, I saw her acting and thought to myself, “Ah, I want to be like her.” So, I started acting. I’m telling the truth.
LSY: It doesn’t make sense! Stop lying~~ it just doesn’t make sense.
YJG: It’s the truth! I watched that movie Lovely Rivals..
LSY: Shut up~~!
YJG: HAHAHA. When I was young, I watched that movie and thought, “Wow, I want to film a movie like that too one day.” Perhaps, that’s why we seem to be comfortable around each other. Just like what we were discussing earlier, having similar background as child actors is already a huge common ground for us, so it makes us comfortable to talk with each other.
Even without saying it out loud, both of you can understand each other.
LSY: On the set, Yeo Jin-goo is someone whom you can’t help but to treat with kindness. He’s so lovely and he has the ability to make people around him feel naturally pleased. When we share a scene, he continues to joke around even when I have to act out a serious scene. HAHA.
“I am not someone who can sit still and do nothing. On my regular days (without filming schedule), I deliberately go to the office. Truth to be told, rather than doing something to find happiness, I am someone who find happiness in simple things.”
We have noticed it during the shooting session but both of you really love to joke around.
YJG: Yes. Thank God, the atmosphere of the set is really great. The seniors are actually bright people and the drama sometimes ventures into comedy scenes, so that makes it even more fun. The mood of the set is always bright; jokes and pranks are norms there.
What do you usually enjoy to do in your private time?
LSY: I like to go to work. I go to the company and do the office work.
Really? What kind of office work? Managing the fan stuff (fan club)?
LSY: No. I check the list of interviewees attending the interviews, have meals together with and sometimes make coffee for the staff, I do the dishes and laundry, sometimes I clean the office. That is my hobby. I cannot sit still and do nothing.
YJG: Yeah, I saw that for the first time of my life. She made a list of the staff on the filming set. She took pictures with the staff daily and wrote down their names. That really left a deep impression on me.
We should call you Chief Secretary Lee then.
LSY: It should be Chief Lee. I couldn’t get promoted, so I should be the forever chief. Haha.
So, Chief Lee, what makes you feel the happiest when you do it? Something which makes you feel like yourself the most? Perhaps when you go to work? In a past interview, you wondered how many happy hours do people have in his whole life. Back then, it left a deep impression.
LSY: (I feel like myself the most) When I play with the cat. Also, I really like it when I leave for the day together with the company staff. When I get home and I am by myself, especially if there is no filming scheduled on the day, I will have to be with Ari (her cat) or else, I won’t be able to study at all. If I’m with other people, that will do too. Truth to be told, rather than doing something to find happiness, I am more of someone who find happiness in simple things.
You seem to enjoy the group life, as you draw the sense of stability from the presence of a crowd around you.
LSY: That seems to be the case. I am the type to associate myself with someone no matter where I go. Maybe because I hate to be lonely when I am left alone. On one side, I am a homebody; I want to be alone but I hate to be lonely. I want to feel attached to someone.
YJG: I seem to be on the contrary: there are times I feel like myself the most when I am lonely. It’s not that I do something great when I am by myself, but it is easier to do things I want to do by myself. That feeling of “Oh, this is good!” when I watch movies or eat the food I cooked because I wanted to eat it. I do feel like and enjoy myself when I am acting, but there are times when I feel happy even from being alone at home, doing nothing and just spacing out.
Who is the person you admire as your role model?
LSY: In terms of acting, there are lots of actors I admire. I want to be like all the good ones.
YJG: Right. Choosing one (favourite) actor is the most difficult thing to do. There are actors whose acting style I admire and wish to emulate, while there are others whose filmography is a thing I envy.
“I do feel like and enjoy myself when I am acting, but there are times when I feel happy even from being alone at home doing nothing and spacing out. That feeling of “Oh, this is good!” when I watch movies or eat my own cooking.”
Then, other than actors, do you have other people you admire?
YJG: These days…umm…the poets…I have never thought about it before…
Yeo Jin-goo, male, 22-year old bachelor who enjoys solitude and poems.
YJG: Hahaha. There are moments when I have the thought of leaving the feelings and thoughts I had in the form of words, but it is not that easy for me. When I try to express my feelings in the form of words, somehow it turns into a weird feeling. Maybe one day I will lose my balance and submits myself to those weird words…That’s why, sometimes I really envy the writers when I read a good phrase or a poem, no matter how short it is. I thought, “Is this person born with it?”
LSY: By the way, I also wrote lots of poem when I was 22. I could not even disclose them since it might turn into my dark history…
YJG: Oh, then I think I want to be like Miss Lee Se-young over here. HAHA.
You are healthy and laughing like this at the moment, but on the other side, there are many ups and downs you have encountered along the long way of your acting career compared to your young age. How do you support yourself during the difficult, lonely, and tormenting moments you had so far?
LSY: Oh, it is a secret for me, though? Haha. I always receive this question before but to be honest, this is a heart wrenching question for me.
YJG: For me, it’s one word: fans. Yes, that’s right. I yearn for them, especially during the preparation period for a particular project. I get immersed in the project as I start shooting and soon I am unable to think clearly. I can’t even greet them properly because I am working diligently, but I will always think of the mindset I had while I was preparing for the project: “Ah, I want to meet them soon and do a good job to show a good side of me to them.”
LSY: I answered fans too last year. Haha. The set is where I feel the most difficult and loneliest, but there’s no other than me myself there. People are looking from behind the monitor and I wondered who had my back. Then, I thought, ” The people who anticipate my acting, my fans.” That became a huge comfort for me at that moment.
In an interview few years ago, Yeo Jin-goo said, “At this rate, I might become a wizard (being someone who has never dated before). Are you still practicing your magic (implying that he’s honing his skills to stay single?)?
LSY: Muahahahaha. Expelliarmus!
YJG: HAHAHA. That was very famous back then. If you continue to be single for a few years, you might be able to produce fire on your palm…
LSY: Then, after a few more years, you’re saying that you will be a great wizard?
YJG: Ah, I have a lot to say about this…HAHAHAHA. I really have a lot to say about this…
We will conclude this question with “YJG is diligently practicing his magic skills in order to become a great wizard in a few years’ time”. In The Crowned Clown, it is teased that both of you will portray a subtle loving couple’s chemistry against the historical drama background. If we are to compare it with your real life relationship, what is your dating style exactly? We were going to ask this, but our Mr Yeo Jin-goo is still under his magic training…
YJG: Yes, I’m still researching magic. I have my eyes on Fantastic Beasts…HAHAHAHA. I haven’t experienced it, I haven’t experienced it though, but I feel that I will throw a fast ball (confess as soon as possible??). HAHAHA.
Because you have waited for too long?
YJG: Because I’d be thinking,”Finally, the time has come for me to end this lifelong magic research!” HAHAHA.
LSY: I’m not really sure myself, but if I do experience it, I might be straightforward but at the same time, I will push and pull and also take the lead in the relationship…I should protect my fans. HAHA. “I’m working on my magic!” This will be my answer.
This is the final question. It’s the new year of 2019, so what will be your resolution for the new year, if you can only pick one?
LSY: To become a better Lee Se-young than the 2018’s Lee Se-young. I will continue to go to the office in order not to make it a short-lived resolution.
YJG: HAHAHA. A blooming effort in order to be promoted to Chief Secretary!
LSY: Nope, I don’t care if I continue to become a Chief. It doesn’t matter if I have to study or read the scripts, I need to wake up and go to the office. I’ll do nothing but sleep when I’m home. No matter what I have to do, I need to go there. (Her manager: It’s real. She even arrives earlier than the staff and cleans the office.) Thanks to that, the office has become tidier compared to last year. HAHA.
YJG: I think I’m worthless if I am to compare myself with (Se-young) noona. HAHA. As for me, it’s still the trivial things for the time being. To read one book per month, to learn piano, these seem to be my level.
LSY: It’s not trivial at all! It’s so difficult. You don’t even know how difficult it is to finish one book!
YJG: I want to learn composition so that I can compose a song, and there are things like wishing to see the aurora. It’s fun to do a bucket list like this.
LSY: That’s great! Everyone, this man over here is my husband. HAHA.