Photographer : Chae ki-won.
Editor : Lee Ji-Hye.
Via : 10.asiae.co.kr
The Yoon Kye-sang that appeared in front of the public for the first time in 1998 was 20 years old, a heartthrob, and the vocalist of boy band G.O.D which enjoyed huge popularity for over half a decade. However, he left the quintet in 2004 and turned to acting.
The Yoon Kye-sang that 10Asia met with 12 years later was kind and smiled considerately, just like his character Yoon Pil-joo from recently ended MBC TV series "The Greatest Love." And although he does not say a single word in film "Poongsan," telling the story only through his eyes, facial expressions and bodily movements, this rather made the interviewer realize that Yoon has eyes in which one can see more of the lower area of his white of the eyes, meaning that he is stubborn, competitive and unyielding, according to phrenology. And that is at least what Yoon seemed to be like.
He was the type of guy that will throw a fast ball into the very center of a catcher's mitt, even if the batter may hit a home run with it, proven by how he was unhesitant and honest in answering every question and during his eight-year acting career, has believed that an actor must throw himself into his role completely ahead of becoming one that is skilled.
Hence, Yoon's life has not been all that smooth since becoming an actor but he recently reached a meaningful turning point with "The Greatest Love" and "Poongsan." Below is 10Asia's interview with this man who still, rather than getting excited or fully enjoying the acclamation, so stubbornly does not withdraw the harsh standard he has applied to himself.
Yoon Kye-sang: It does differentiate itself from other movies. I think it's funny in a different kind of way. With other movies you can predict where or how they're going to be funny but I think the appeal to this movie is that the scenes that don't seem that way, turn out to be funny. It's funny because lines that you'd usually leave out because they're so obvious, such as "Was it a kiss? Or was it CPR?" are actually spoken. And amidst all that, the actors are very serious yet do well in mixing it in, in a way that is not immature. It's also interesting in that it shatters prejudice over movies that deal with North and South Korea or heroes. It doesn't take a single side nor does it show only the cool and heroic sides to the main character.
Despite being in such humorous situations, you had to be serious from start to finish. You didn't have a single line to say but you had to focus an extreme amount for your acting.
Yoon: I felt that expressions and actions was everything to Poongsan so I calculated each and every one and constantly discussed on them with the director. I thought a lot into the details regarding his eyes, body and movements because he wasn't armed with any lines to say.
In what way in detail?
Yoon: The intensity of my gaze. I don't know if you'll be able to see what I mean if I explain it like this but (momentarily tenses up and then relaxes eyes) simply put, I calculated things like whether I'd give more of a glare or show my emotions a lot or let my eyes shake. This may sound easy but it's actually difficult to show. And if I weren't able to express these details, it would have been hard to convince viewers of Poongsan's actions in the latter half of the movie. It would've been impossible to do were it not for director Juhn Jai-hong who picked up on those details.
Yoon Kye-sang [Chae ki-won/10Asia]
What about the scenario to "Poongsan" were you drawn to?
Yoon: Actors always get excited over getting to make new attempts when it comes to acting. Of course we're also interested in what sort of environment a movie will be produced in but getting such scripts in itself gives us courage and energy. And I think "Poongsan" did that for me. It was time for me to change my acting and I was somewhat aware of the image people had of me so I felt that this film would help me take a step forward as an actor. I didn't care that I wasn’t going to get paid a guarantee fee for my contract. I believed that the movie would be a great asset to me and encourage me a lot.
I heard that you felt there was a moment that Poongsan should talk, at least one word, but didn’t because the director said not to since it would reveal his identity. What had you wanted him to say in which scene?
Yoon: I approached the movie with a very simple mindset -- that it would contain a lot of stories including the relationship between North and South Korea but that my responsibility laid in the love story between my character and In-ok (played by Kim Gyu-ri). However, I was worried about doing a good job of expressing his emotions. I felt that he should express his emotions through words at least once since they fall in love so suddenly and for the things he does for In-ok in the latter half of the movie to be convincing. I thought I’d be able to show it, even by just getting to call her name at least once but the director kept me from doing so, saying that we’re not filming a romantic movie. That’s why I went with his decision and I think he was right. I’m always doubting everything because my acting has yet to become complete. And in a way, being an actor makes me want to go further than I should. I want to pour fourth my emotions to the extent that if I have a crying scene, I want to cry so much that I’ll faint. It’s up to the director to control how far an actor goes with expressing him or herself which I think Juhn did well with.
I think that to start with, you have a high level of trust in directors. I mean, there are actors who start by believing only in themselves. And I think it’s because of your experience of working with director Byun Young-joo for your debut film “Flying Boys.” I heard she pulled out emotions from you by pushing you to the max.
Yoon: That’s right. I think that’s what education is about -- like how the first word you teach a baby will influence how that baby grows up. And that’s how I learned to act so I have absolute trust in directors. I actually do get greedy about directing while acting because I direct my own acting. And I’m gaining an eye for seeing films on the bigger picture. It’s more so because I started my acting career playing the main character, which I feel very bad about to my juniors in particular. You start wanting to take part in directing the film after you’ve played the main character a couple of times but I think the movie fails the moment you show that and try to take control of it. Because for example, for “Poongsan” I would’ve been looking at the movie from Poongsan’s perspective so I wouldn’t have been objective. And that wouldn’t have helped the movie in any way so I’m always trying to stop myself. Every film will be different in terms of what sort of project it is and what the director’s capabilities are but I’m the type that places absolute faith in the director.
It was very cold when you shot the movie so you shot the movie under extremely poor conditions. How would you say you performed for someone who was filming under such extreme conditions?
Yoon: I was the best. Really. (laugh) Because we pulled all nighters for all 25 rounds of filming so my mind kept coming and going. But the director pulled it off because he was capable of it and everyone, including the cast and crew, all did their best. Theatrical plays may be an art for the actor but a movie is an art for the director because there is a skill called editing that’s involved with filmmaking. I wouldn’t say I was the one who pulled things off because the director is the person who made the movie based on everything he looked at in detail.