written by Kim Eun Young, photo by Kim Il Kwon.
translated by Gumi.
“I have nothing…then, I should make something.”
When you are not a teenager anymore, you realize that it is easier said than done to love and enjoy your own career. But actor Jang Hyuk is accomplishing that for 20 years already, he makes me impressed and curious. Second time interviewing Jang Hyuk, he was still the ‘passionate actor’ who loves his work, and was still emanating his boiling passion. I couldn’t help but ask. What makes your heart beat like this. But his answer was unexpected. “Nothing. If there’s nothing, I should make something.” Here’s a story of Jang Hyuk who creates something out of nothing.
Variety shows, movies, dramas…endless projects could easily wear one out, but ‘flame actor’ Jang Hyuk boasted his energy saying “I’m still in the age when one can chew on steel.” His such battery-like (?) stamina probably is based on his years of work-out, but more importantly it’d be because of his passion that makes him yearn to “run to the filming site, as soon as a project is over.” Jang Hyuk who just finished MBC <Fated to Love You> seemed to have already gotten rid of fatigue from live-shooting. A man who smiles saying he’s grateful and happy that he can do next project, he has colleagues to work with. We heard some behind story from Jang Hyuk, the one fated to be an actor.
*You are working continuously, from a movie to a drama…aren’t you tired? Is it manageable.
Ah, of course. I’m still lively. (laughs) It is tiring, but I love it that I can act. It’s really fun to be able to keep create something When I start a project, I feel like ‘when is this going to be over’ but one week after it’s done, I just want to be back on filming site. How strange. (laughs)
*You returned to rom-com after a long time, and got good responses and ratings was also good. You must have felt relieved.
My last rom-com was SSoBG, so that’s over a decade ago. So I wanted to do a rom-com. But didn’t want to do a cliche boring one. I watched FTLY original, and it felt like ‘old’ classic rom-com. I felt like this kind of classic rom-com might actually be fresh in this era. As we filmed, Nara and director Lee Dong Yoon settled ‘Lee Gun’ character down well. I feel like I’ve met a very rare, great team. I was physically tired because I couldn’t sleep, but mentally excited and entertained. (laughs)”
*The drama was packed with ad-libs. Were they all your idea?
As I analyzed the script, I gave it a lot of thoughts. I tried comedy, and then tried it with seriousness as I practiced. Too funny wouldn’t do, too serious also wouldn’t do…balance was important. Maybe because I’m not good enough for that, but I can’t really do it as the script says. (laughs) There’s something you should do in the position of an actor, so I tried adding some of my creations onto the script. Of course, we discussed it together and built it together.
*Lee Gun’s laughter was very impressive, it got a lot of attention. Some viewers even said the laughter was haunting them. (laughs) How did that laugh get created?
I tried that laugh the first time during our first reading. In movie <Age of Innocence> I got the role ‘Lee Bang Won’, and that characters laughs in front and plans a scheme in the back. While I filmed it I laughed a lot. Of course it’s not the same toned laugh, but as I analyzed LG I just thought what if I laugh like this? so I tried it in the reading and everybody loved it. I didn’t know it will get this much attention. (laughs)
*You worked with JNR again after 12 years. She gave full points to your chemistry, what do you think?
During SSBG time, it was a shame that we were too busy to have any conversation. So I was glad to be able to work with her again. Nara has very good sense. There are some people with whom it just works out well, even if you don’t have prior rehearsal. Nara was like that. It was comfortable.
*In melo acting, breathing with the partner is important. Any know-how for that?
I have two. First is trying to make her want to work with me again. Actor is a job which you have to be constantly ‘picked-up’ by others. I want to make the partner feel like I have potential as an actor. That’s how I can work with her again in next projects to come. Second is to be as nice to my partner as possible. It’s not to gain something from the other, but to be able to walk together. If you open your hearts to each other and walk together, you can have a great teamwork.
*You are in late 30s and still fit to play in a rom-com. Rom-com is a genre that can be harder as you age.
I actually don’t think so, I think rom-com actually fits well more aged actors. Because they know more about love, and are more flexible with life. They have broader range of expressions. I think it will have different charm if I do rom-com again in mid to late 40s. If you look at some foreign films, there are a lot more older actors acting in rom-coms. I think my age is a perfect fit for a rom-com…(laughs)
*Not only the female lead, but you are one of the best actors in terms of chemistry with other actors, main or supporting roles. Do you value ensemble a lot on site.
Of course. Ensemble is what kills and saves an actor. No matter how impressive your acting is alone, if others’ acting around him doesn’t support him that acting can’t survive. Even if Al Pacino came, he wouldn’t be able to lead 20 episodes by himself. You give and take, give and take, and that nurtures the acting. If the supporting actors around don’t give him the exact position, lead actor cannot lead the show alone. I think the ideal ensemble is not 8:2 or 7:3, it’s 5:5.
*You have acted countless characters, do you create them by yourself.
Rather than creation, I think it is understanding and acceptance. When people empathize or get convinced while watching movies are dramas, it’s because they accept the character and the story. When we make relationship with others, it’s important to try to understand them even if they have different personality than me. I look at how that character lived, and try to understand and accept him, and express him through acting.
*You have acted for a long time, acting various projects, genres, characters. Don’t you ever get sick of acting after such long career.
Never. I guess it’s because it’s only been 20 years. Ask me again when it has been 30, 40 years. Right now, I’m at the age when you can chew on steel (laughs).
*Looks like you are all out on everything you do.
My previous acting told me: there’s no one else who doesn’t have anything like you. I don’t have anything now either. I have nothing. When I was a rookie, someone I know told me. ‘Are you as good-looking as Jung Woo Sung? Are you as funny as Cha Tae Hyun? You have nothing.’ It sounded so right. I don’t have anything, so I should create something. In trying to make something, I guess I developed tendency to go all out. My passion is the same as when I just had my debut. My body aged a little. (laughs) I’m just really grateful now. I can go on working on next project, and express yet another character. For an actor, the fact that there’s an next project you can act is a very thankful thing.