[Interview Part I] Kim Jae Joong Goes from Idol Star to Real Actor
“I can’t believe it’s all over, when it still feels like I have more to do….”
Despite concerns that MBC’s Dr. Jin was Kim Jae Joong′s first ever period piece, the actor, as Kim Kyung Tak, managed to work closely with big senior actors, dispel the concerns and leave an impression in the eyes of his viewers.
The drama now has only one episode left to air and the cast is done filming, but it seemed Kim Jae Joong still couldn’t shake off the ghost of Kim Kyung Tak still hanging about him.
“I was nervous and scared because it was my first traditional drama. I was scared about what would come back to me if I didn’t do well, but I think it wrapped up well. [Kim] Kyung Tak is still here [in my heart]. The last shoot was yesterday, so he didn’t really have time to find his way out. (Laugh)”
For the interview, Kim Jae Joong showed he had kept his cool for the conclusion of his drama with his jokes and humor. He was fairly bright, but he said it was true that the three months he had spent as Kim Kyung Tak weren’t all fun and games.
He had to sweat it out in the costume of an officer on summer days that were hotter than those of any other year, and so he had to work hard to keep up his strength for his full schedule. The thing that tormented him the most, however, was his acting.
Dr. Jin was the first traditional drama he took up since he made his actor debut. Viewers praised that he certainly exceeded expectations ever since he started to appear, but some of them also pointed out that his voice tone was a bit too forced and rigid. When these criticisms were mentioned, Kim Jae Joong nodded his head in agreement.
“I didn’t know how to set my tone, not only for my voice, but also for my actions. I think I cared so much for being ‘powerful and charismatic’ just because I was supposed to be an officer. I knew nothing about acting in a traditional drama, so I guess those were the only things I cared about. I felt a lot of things after watching myself act. I cut out the excessive parts, and then tried to include other things.”
Of course, he wasn’t able to find his way alone. Veteran actor Kim Eung Soo, who appears in the drama as Kim Kyung Tak’s father Kim Byung Hee, helped him out a lot. Although he was cold toward Kim Jae Joong in the drama, the real Kim Eung Soo supported Kim Jae Joong like a father, and Kim Jae Joong returned the attention by acting like a son.
“I heard him say during our first shoot, ‘I wish I could have a glass of whiskey in this hot weather,’ and so I got him a bottle of whiskey. After seeing he still used a 2G phone, I also got him a smartphone. [The staff] told me that later he bragged about it a lot on set, saying it was from his ‘son’. He can’t hide it when he’s happy about something (Laugh)."
"When he’s acting, however, he never tries to teach or point out weaknesses no matter who he’s talking to. He just tries to lead actors to ways they can do better. Thanks to him, I was able to become Kim Kyung Tak.”
The scene where Kim Kyung Tak sobbed in the face of his father’s death, aired in the 21st episode of Dr. Jin, was especially received well. In that scene, he was different from some other actors who had been given their lead roles just because they were idols; the man crying on screen, spilling out all of his sorrow through his eyes, nose and mouth, was no longer an idol that only tries to show his best onstage.
Kim Jae Joong left his previous self behind, and fully became his character.
“It’s important to set myself aside, but it’s not easy. I believe this is what everyone who starts to act after debuting as a singer has to go through; it’s hard to let go of only showing your best onstage. What’s important in acting, however, is how you feel inside, so pushing your original self farther away helps you concentrate more on your character.
Kim Jae Joong took another step forward as an actor with the help of Dr. Jin, and he’s already thinking of his next big piece. He said he was most impressed by the film A Moment to Remember in the past, and said that he had given his guide album to a director with a scene from the film in mind.
Rather than care for the scale of the piece or the weight of his character, he cares more for getting a role to act in.
“I don’t care if it’s not a lead role. I want to try a variety of roles. If it’s a good piece and if it’s a character I like, independent films are okay, too. I also want to perform onstage. When you stand onstage as a singer you can only show how you dance and sing, but musicals mix them with acting. I believe just imagining what it would be like to act live in front of an audience will make me feel joyful.”
Photo credit: C-JeS Entertainment