[Interview Part I] Lee Byung Hun Says ′Masquerade′ Boasts a Balanced Ensemble
He wasn′t Lee Byung Hun for nothing. There was a reason the Korean Box Office and Hollywood had chosen Lee Byung Hun. This man wasn′t merely a star, but a true actor.
He has many big titles attached to his name, but this actor′s roots were in acting. He was able to spill over into Asia and even Hollywood all thanks to his acting skills.
In the film Masquerade, which premiered on September 13, Lee Byung Hun showed off all of the skills he had as an actor known for his acting. It was his first period piece, but it was hard to believe it was his first because he portrayed King Gwanghae and the low-class Ha Sun perfectly.
His teamwork with the actors Ryu Seung Ryong and Han Hyo Joo were also perfect.
Ha Sun, who takes the throne instead of the real king when he comes under danger of being poisoned, loves Joseon more than the real king. Ha Sun starts to realize where the morals of a king should stand, and the values somewhat represent the situation modern day Korea is in. Masquerade stands out in the year 2012, when the presidential elections for Korea aren′t far off.
We met with Lee Byung Hun, who returned to Korea for the first time in a long time with a well-made period piece.
′Masquerade′ has received rave reviews after its preview. How do you feel?
"I was satisfied too. I watched the film two times before the press preview through the monitoring previews. I lost my objectiveness because I had seen it before the press preview, but Ryu Seung Ryong, who had seen the film for the first time that day, exclaimed so much. The distribution screening got even better reviews. I got calls not only from officials, but also from my high school friends. I′m looking forward to it a lot."
Lee Byung Hun appears in almost every scene because he takes on two roles for the one piece. It′s like a stage made just for you.
"I do appear in many scenes, but the film was able to shine brighter thanks to the other actors who played their own roles perfectly. Masquerade is a film that can boast its ensemble as its strength. The actors did great, and I believe the casting decisions were great also."
What do you believe makes up a wise king?
"I believe that Ha Sun is the ideal leader. In a scene edited out of the film, Eunuch Jo (Jang Gwang) tells Ha Sun, ′A King should not personally feel sorry for others or show sympathy for them.′ Ha Sun is a man of ideals. I believe that kings should be firm, and know how to make big decisions."
I′m curious about how you came to be cast in this film. I heard the head of the film′s production company went to see you in America.
"Actually, the visit from the head of the production company didn′t help. He′s really talkative, and talks like a trickster. He hindered my decision. (Laugh) Director Choo Chang Min, who should′ve been more outspoken, was actually pretty quiet.
I did have fun reading the scenario, but I wondered whether it would be fun as a film. I pondered over it for two months after I had received the scenario. I watched director Choo′s previous piece, I Love You, and I thought that director Choo would never let go of the dramatic elements of a film. For Masquerade, the comedy is a small part of its story; it′s the drama that counts more. There were more humorous scenes, but director Choo cut most of them out. He voted to keep the drama alive."
There aren′t any other films like ′Masquerade′ in your filmography. It′s humorous, and it′s a period piece. It′s a type you′ve never tried before; did this decision come strategically?
"I don′t choose my pieces strategically. I am, of course, strategic in Hollywood. I chose G.I. Joe strategically."
This is Part I of enews′ interview with Lee Byung Hun. Read Part II here.
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan