[Interview] FTLY Jang Hyuk, Charm of a Strong and Soft Man

Original article:
http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=106&oid=421&aid=0001020226 written by Myung Hee Sook.

Translated by Gumi.

15 movies and 15 dramas. An actor for 17 years who is soon to be 40 years old, Jang Hyuk’s filmography was earnest and firm. Depth in his acting he’s been compiling for past 17 years made it impossible to limit his character as an ‘action actor’ or ‘comedy actor’. An actor who defies a single adjective to characterize him, I got curious of actor Jang Hyuk’s past life.

When I met Jang Hyuk in Seoul Yeoksam-dong’s cafe, Jang Hyuk talked about his special feelings to the recently ended drama MBC Wed-Thu series ‘Fated to Love You’. He had a reunion with Jang Na Ra 12 years after SBS drama ‘Successful Story of a Bright Girl’, and he came back to comic genre after a long time.

“When I received the scenario for FTLY, I thought it’d be nice if Jang Na Ra can act it. When I watched the original version, I felt like it was a combination of ‘Thank You’ and ‘SSBG’. I really wanted to try it. After cast was confirmed I met Jang Na Ra, and she hasn’t changed since SSBG days. She was shy and quiet. It didn’t feel like we didn’t meet for 12 years, I felt comfortable. I think FTLY could be this successful only because I did it with JNR.”

Jang Hyuk has been acting some heavier characters in projects including ‘Chuno’ or ‘Tree with Deep Roots’. That Jang Hyuk made up his mind to come back to a comic genre and showed flamboyant Lee Gun character in FTLY. It was breaking the heavy image he’s been piling up till now, and at the same time was natural as if it’s his own skin.

“The male lead in original Taiwan version FTLY wasn’t a comic character. To differentiate with the original, Lee Gun’s characteristic changed. When our director first requested me to show comic actions, I answered I will show him comic beyond he can imagine. But I requested him one thing. To make sure I can always come back as a serious character. Director reflected my opinion well, and he helped me make Lee Gun who is comic but not ridiculous, and is straightforward.”

Jang Hyuk’s Lee Gun in FTLY had his unique tone and laughter, comic expressions, and quirkiness that’s rare in rom com male leads. He was bold to ignore the rom com equation in which the male lead has to be the perfect charming man, but female audience on the contrary loved the new rom-com character Lee Gun.

“I never tried to look cool and charming. If I wanted that, I wouldn’t have chosen this drama. I wanted to show human side of Lee Gun. I wanted to look more as a man who you want to hug and pat, than a man who you want to depend on. I wanted to approach the audience as a guy who touch upon your maternal instinct, a man who you want to hug and console. It’s not like you can’t be attracted to someone who touches upon your maternal instinct.”

Jang Hyuk is known for analyzing his character and script deeply before he starts a project. FTLY Lee Gun he presented was a solid creature made out of countless trials and errors.

“Lee Gun had his motif from Scrooge. Scrooge is cranky and isolated, he chooses to be locked up and doesn’t interact with people. Scrooge himself is not a comic character, but he does end up creating somewhat comic situations. I referenced some of those aspects. In addition, I watched ‘Kikujiro’s Summer’ of Director Kitano Takeshi and Stephen Chow movies, and wanted to also show some comic acting with humanism.”

Through FTLY, Jang Hyuk had in depth interactions in terms of acting with his partner Jang Na Ra, and got very close with her to the extent they decided to become ‘brothers’. He said the most impressive scene in the drama was Jang Na Ra’s acting, and the hardest scenes to film was also with Jang Na Ra.

“Actress Jang Na Ra has depth in her range of emotions. I felt that in SSBG as well, but saw her true value through FTLY. The scene where she expresses emotions of a mother who lost her child was the best. It was as if we were playing a catch-ball game and I caught her fastball. On the other hand, all of those scenes I filmed with her laying on a bed were so hard to film. The problem was not the acting, I was just so sleepy. We kept felling asleep, and we took turns to wake each other up. (laughs)”

Jang Hyuk has not limited himself to movies and dramas, but has showed his personal aspects in variety shows as well. A lot of people are yearning to see him in variety shows again, but he waved his hands saying it is not his stage.

“A career as an actor is my stage. On my own stage, I can show any aspects, funny, sad, hilarious, joyful, all of them. In the case of MBC ‘Real Men’, I was almost unaware of cameras, and I guess that’s how I revealed my natural self. I never thought of it as a ‘variety show’. But if I end up filming ‘Real Men’ again, I don’t think I can show my honest self again as I did at that time.”

Jang Hyuk who has been steadily walking the path of an actor had a motto as an actor as strong as his filmography.

“I never dreamed of becoming a certain kind of actor. I like action scenes, but I don’t want to be an ‘action star.’ I don’t have a particular person as a role model, but I find things to learn and not learn from others. I just want to become an actor who makes people think they want to work with this actor again.”

The reason I couldn’t put an adjective to Jang Hyuk was because he was an actor with infinite potential. Jang Hyuk who shows off his presence as he shines in different colors every time, is an actor who makes you get curious of his next project even after finishing 30 different projects. As much as his yesterday and today, I am excited about his tomorrow.


7 responses to “[Interview] FTLY Jang Hyuk, Charm of a Strong and Soft Man

  1. Marcia Houston

    Without a doubt. ..never seen an actor from anywhere in the world who can make a character that he creates LIVE. He is the most believable actor there is.

  2. ” I think FTLY could be this successful only because I did it with JNR.” Hamo Hamo!! so so true!

  3. Thank you Gumi! Such a wonderful read.
    “When our director first requested me to show comic actions, I answered I will show him comic beyond he can imagine. But I requested him one thing. To make sure I can always come back as a serious character.”– That’s the most awesome thing about JH. He’s not willing to sacrifice the depth of his character for the comedy. Instead, he made it both happen and even gave meaning to Gun’s comic antics. I value this value of his. So awesome!

  4. Love the summary of the reporter on him.. that’s how JH is to me too, indescribable in one adjective, in facts words are not enough..

    Thanks Gumi for the translation!

  5. Thank you for the translation. Wow, 30 productions in total over 17 years. “When I received the scenario for FTLY, I thought it’d be nice if Jang Na Ra can act it.”- did this mean he suggested JNR as the female lead?

  6. Jang hyuk n jang nara,,,these jjang couple are legend , every drama they made always successfull, hope to see them again in another project

  7. Excellent interview. Thanks for the translations.

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