Hi, I’m copying this interview translated by Prettysup and posted on the Soompi Jang Hyuk thread. Thank you Prettysup! This way we can always refer to it.
I also added some of my favorite images of beautiful (and terrible but awesome) Bangwon, for us to drool forever! #Bangwitched
As he enters his 23rd year of acting, Jang Hyuk has also shown off the special weight that he carries, capturing the agony of a humane Lee Bang-won in JTBC’s “My Country,” which ended on Sunday.
Jang’s relaxed smile at the interview did not make one feel that he is tired after finishing the work that had been shooting for about eight months. “I can’t cut my hair because it’s going to be used in the next drama,” he said with a big smile.
“I wanted to show you an emotional humane Lee Bang-won, not an ambitious blood lord. In fact, during the ‘Age of innocence’, I was always thinking about playing Lee Bang-won again. In ‘The Age of Innocence’ , Lee Bang-won feels like the background in the first strife of the princes. ‘My Country’ Lee Bang-won is a weighty villain, and he’s at the center of the story, so there’s a little bit of freedom and coolness.”
“My Country” is basically the story of fictional characters Seo Hwi (Yang Se-jong), Nam Seon-ho (Woo Do-hwan), and Han Hee-jae (Kim Seol-hyeon) who help Lee Bang-won revolt in the drama. However, the three-dimensional confrontations between Lee Bang-won (Jang Hyuk), Nam-jeon (Ahn Nae-sang) and Lee Seong-gye (Kim Young-chul) who contributed to the founding of the country showed off their existence as much as traditional historical dramas.
Among the past works dealing with Lee Bang-won, Jang was particularly attracted to ‘The Deep Rooted Tree’ which he also starred in. “I wanted to show everyone the Lee Bang-won who stood against his father. There was a scene in ‘The Deep Rooted Tree’ which Baek Yoon-sik senior told Ido (Song Joong-ki) to live. I was very impressed with that fascinating look.”
Actor Kim Young-chul, who plays Lee Seong-gye, had also portrayed Taejong two times previously through “The Great King Sejong” and “Jang Young-sil.” Kim Young-chul, however, rarely talked about his works because he feared it would have an unnecessary impact on Jang’s performance. On the synergy of their acting, Jang said, “We acted as father and son during ‘Iris 2’, and even if we don’t talk about it, we can immerse ourselves in real-life feelings. You just have to get the emotional intensity that your senior members are driving at and pour it out as it is,” he explained. These are words coming from an actor representing the acting class in the entertainment industry.
“Although it’s a work of fictional characters, stories beyond historical characters may not be convincing. Most people know how the Strife of the Princes went and what roles and actions Jeong Do-jeon, Lee Bang-gan, and Bakpo played. If you go too far-fetched, it’s going to be hard to accept. So instead of creating a new story, I wanted to reinterpret the feelings behind it, while keeping true to historical records. Did Lee Bang-won really think that he was going to be a king? Maybe he didn’t, but he was just swept away by the surging emotions and became the king. We only know the records but we didn’t see it and feel it personally, so I focused on capturing the inner thoughts of Lee Bang-won.”
As a result, “My Country” Lee Bang-won became Jang hyuk’s new life character. Lee Bang-won’s relentless confrontation with his father, Lee Seong-gye, excited viewers. “I’m grateful that you have enjoyed this drama because it’s so emotional,” Jang said with a smile.
Jang Hyuk also talked about being a senior among the cast. He said, “Although there were seniors on the set, but most of the other cast and crew were younger than me. There was only Tae-ryeong (Kim Jae-young), who is three years younger than me at the set and we talked a lot,” he said, confessing to his unexpected loneliness.
He reiterated that he learned a lot from young actors like Woo Do-hwan, Yang Se-jong and Seol Hyun. “One of the most regrettable works of my life is ‘Daemong’. They’re only a year or two older than me when I did ‘Daemong’, but are very well prepared. I was surprised that they can act so well at this age.”
Jang Hyuk’s choice of a master scene in ‘My Country’ is a question-and-answer session with Lee Sung-gye at the end of the drama. Jang recalled, “I fell in love with Kim Young-chul’s feelings. Would I answer as king or as father? The sixth, seventh and eighth are already dead, and the fifth, you will be king. He’s hitting the line. I’ve stopped feeling so much. Do you have any fingers that don’t hurt? It’s because I’m a royal family member. There was no line in the original script that said Lee Bang-won resembles Nam Seon-ho, but I added it on the spot because I felt that he resembled Nam Seon-ho.”
Jang Hyuk’s personal favourite acting scene is when he threw his crown after becoming the king. Unlike Lee Seong-gye or Nam Jeon, the throne was just a mean for Lee Bang-won to create his version of ‘my country’.
“I wanted to depict the feeling of cutting the opponent’s head off and throwing it. It’s my seat, I have went through a long way to reach there, but I don’t know what to do when I get there. I raised my sword not to make the abandoned, but the reality is that I abandoned everyone from Seo Geom (Yoo Oh-sung) to Seo Hwi and Nam Seon-ho. Lee Bang-won is just like the characters at the end of the movie ‘The Graduate’, where they ran away from the wedding, sat on a bus, like two pathetic, helpless, empty people.”
Jang Hyuk also confessed about the scar on Lee Bang-won’s face, which further sharpened his image in the drama. “It was a coincidence, I got hurt while working out. But then I found that it suited my character well. Doesn’t it feel like Lion King’s ‘Scar’?”
The most beloved historical character Jang Hyuk has ever played is Lee Dae-gil of ‘Chuno’. At one time, viewers commented that they see Lee Dae-gil in every character that he played. However, through ‘My Country’, Jang hyuk has completely shed the shadow of Lee Dae-gil, which had been hanging for more than a decade. Jang Hyuk said, “I forgot about Dae-gil a long time ago as I needed to move on to my next projects. It has already been 11 years and I’m grateful that there are so many fans who remembered Dae-gil for such a long time.”
When asked whether he would consider doing the TJ project as a gift for fans, Jang appeared embarrassed and said after coughing, “We have to take a look at the times when the TJ project took place. Back then, the music video was done to promote the movie ‘Volcano High’. I was not good at singing, hence I practiced rapping as it was similar to saying my lines.” he explained.
“I like listening to music very much. I always practice acting while listening to music. I’m very happy if I managed to find a song that fits the mood just like OST. But I don’t have the knowledge to work on music.”
“I’ve been asked several times to appear in ‘Sugar Man’ as a rapper TJ. But that’s not a joke, you have to decorate the stage. I’m sure not many people have seen TJ in person, and I think most of them know it through friends or the Internet. I don’t think it’s going to be easy to star in ‘Sugar Man’.”