Yeo Jin Goo – Sisa Journal Vol 1553 Interview

“Hotel Del Luna is a project that allows me to discover a secret world.” 

Yeo Jin-goo is a sincere and honest person. There are a lot of heartwarming stories about him on the filming sets floating around. He led the success of the tvn drama The Crowned Clown, which ended its run earlier in March, by portraying two polar opposite characters of a king and a clown. Back then, Yeo Jin-goo kept repeating the word “Happy”, implying the huge impact of the drama on him, letting him know the joy of acting through the series. It was the leading role he put his heart and soul in. But then, he chose another new project right after The Crowned Clown ended without even taking a rest, and that project is no other than tvn’s latest drama Hotel Del Luna, with singer IU co-leading the Sat-Sun series. Perhaps, that fact alone serves as a proof of how appealing the drama is to him.

Hotel Del Luna is written by Hong Sisters, who also penned The Greatest Love and Hwayugi, just to mention a few projects of theirs; the drama was actually a part of their early drafts on the drama The Master’s Sun back in 2013. With the director Oh Chung-hwan onboard (he also directed Doctors and While You Were Sleeping), Hotel Del Luna made it into news headlines way before its premiere. The ratings for the pilot episode surpassed 7% and the drama dominated the search rankings on portal sites. (Hotel) Del Luna is a hotel which only shows its splendid, real form to the roaming ghost when night falls. There also lives the CEO Jang Man-wol, whose personal clock has stopped ticking, causing her to be fed up with her very own existence; there is also the hotel manager Goo Chan-sung who attends to the ghost customers. Hotel Del Luna depicts the special, unique horror story mixed with heart-fluttering romance between these two characters.

Yeo Jin-goo plays the elite hotelier Goo Chan-sung. He is someone who is full of potential, as proven with him being scouted by three hotels listed as the top 100 hotels worldwide; however, he is also someone with a weak heart, easily passing out at the sight of a floating ghost. Starring alongside him is IU, whose character Jang Man-wol loves to indulge in luxury and greed, contrary to her beautiful, shining face. There is no doubt that thanks to Hotel Del Luna, we get to witness two hottest youth stars in one drama.

You are choosing back-to-back projects. What draws you to this drama?

“(Hotel) Del Luna is a special, one-of-a-kind place where exciting stories unfold. Plus, the role of Goo Chan-sung is totally different from my previous character(s) in The Crowned Clown, be it in terms of character or image, so that explains the reason why I am attracted to it. I am able to show a new and different image to the viewers. Both the subject and the character are very appealing. In general, it is a drama that will make us curious about everything: the reasoning behind the hotel’s existence, the characters that will leave you wondering about them, and the story that will slowly unfold. Because of those reasons, I am happily filming the drama right now.”

What kind of character it is?

“I used to say that I would never want to lose the feeling of always showing changes through my acting, and it is exactly like what I said. Chan-sung is someone who is good at pretending and feeds off of his own pride. I haven’t had the chance to portray this kind of character before this. I met the director and the scriptwriters for a discussion before I made my decision to join the drama, and I thought to myself, “I still need some time to prepare myself.” From an actor’s point of view, it is something very appealing. At first, I thought that it was simply a ‘story about ghost’. I am a person who is faint-hearted myself. The scene in which Chan-sung runs into the ghost is actually the real reaction of mine when I am startled.” 

You’re transforming into an ‘elite’ look in this project, wearing suits for the drama.

“Be it having the job as a hotelier or getting his MBA from Harvard, I did have a lot of concern regarding how those experiences affect his way of Westernized speaking and behaving. Goo Chan-sung has high self-esteem, not to mention that his strong pride and he loves indulging in his own pride. Literally speaking, he is a sincere man who loves being a perfectionist, but at the same time, he is quite sensitive and able to relate to others emotionally. I also paid attention to how he dresses up.” 

Ever since his debut in 2005 through the film Sad Movie, Yeo Jin-goo has continued to build his own filmography. He has acted in various dramas and movies, playing the child counterparts of the characters, until his role as Kim Soo-hyun’s child version in the 2012 drama The Moon Embracing the Sun propelled him into stardom. He later portrayed the titular character Hwayi in the movie Hwayi: A Monster Child and stood proudly with his seniors in acting like Kim Yoon-seok, Jo Jin-woong, and Jang Hyun-seung. The role earned him various Best New Actor Awards, such as in the 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards and the 33rd Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.

But then, he fell into a slump for a while afterwards. This was his reason, “I became greedy as I wanted to meet people’s high expectation on me, but I did not know what kind of acting I should do and it was a difficult time for me.” Hence, he depended a lot on his seniors and the directors working with him. Still, as he went on, anger and resentment started to build up in the deep corner of his heart. “Why can’t I deliver better acting than this?” He started second-guessing himself, putting the blame on his own self. He got over the slump by facing it heads on; what kind of attitude to have towards acting, how should he prepare himself for a role, he found a project when he was still searching for the answers to those questions he had in him. That project was no other than The Crowned Clown. Director Kim Hee-won gave him her trust. The filming set’s atmosphere was made into a place ‘he could play in’; as a result, he was able to express the character just like what he imagined. He found the answer in that atmosphere. “I found the meaning of joy in acting through The Crowned Clown,” he said.

We were aware that you joined Hotel Del Luna quite late, so did you feel any pressure regarding that?

“I received the casting offer while I was still filming The Crowned Clown, so it was not my intention to take my sweet time accepting the role. I was afraid that I would be showing my lacking image, hence I took more time to prepare myself diligently. My co-star IU was already immersed in her character Man-wol, so I owed her for not having to worry about our harmony with each other.”

IU said this regarding her working with Yeo Jin-goo: “After I was cast for the drama, it was not until I heard Jin-goo confirming his role that I felt reassured and happy. I had always thought that he would fit the character Chan-sung. Even when we first met for the script reading session, he came by, having completely prepared himself to become the role itself. I got a hold of myself and thought that I should prepare myself really well. The director said, ‘Chan-sung is a lucky charm.’ Even on the set, all the staff is filming in a good mood thanks to Jin-goo’s energy, and I myself gained strength from him.”

You mentioned in the post-drama interview of The Crowned Clown that you wanted to show a different image through your new drama. Should we look forward to it this time? 

“I think that I have portrayed a lot of characters who underwent development themselves until now. There is a lot of things to take in for Chan-sung when he enters (Hotel) Del Luna, but this is not his coming-of-age story; I want to portray him as a manager who heals the guests and act as a light in their dark journey to the underworld. I think that is the different, manly image I am trying to show here (laughs). I will leave it to the viewers for them to judge it themselves, but I am working diligently (to portray that image) right now.”  

Things we should look forward to, from a lead’s point of view…

“As for me myself, I think of Hotel Del Luna as the project that allows me to discover a fascinating secret world of the unseen. Hence, I am also looking forward to showing a new side of me through the drama. It will be fun to watch the story takes place in a space where each ghost customer arrives with their own stories to tell. Although Man-wol and Chan-sung’s interaction is important, the interaction with the ghosts is also significant. I am always thankful towards the actors and actresses who work harder than anyone else to portray the ghost.” 

If The Crowned Clown was a turning point for Yeo Jin-goo, then Hotel Del Luna might be his first stage of embracing all kinds of genres. “An actor is a job which requires evaluation and judgment (from others). Being judged can be burdensome and terrifying, but as I continue acting, I also become greedy to receive more evaluation and response. Right now, my heart is full of that feeling.” Yeo Jin-goo is deeply immersed in acting at this moment.

Source: SISA JOURNAL (Vol. 1553, published on 20th July 2019)


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