[Interview] Jang Dong Gun on Family and Who He is as an Actor
It′s the stereotype attached to all good-looking actors, that good looking guys can′t act. Jang Dong Gun, however, begs to differ.
His name in itself has such force that it alone explains away his career of 21 years. We became curious about how his marriage with Go So Young was going, how his life as a father was and how he lived his life in general.
Enews met with the actor, who has taken two playboy roles on end in SBS′ A Gentleman′s Dignity and the film Dangerous Liaisons.
Jang Dong Gun up close
He was always serious. He opened up calmly his thoughts about acting and life, which it seemed he had put together long before the interview. All his answers came without effort, and they showed how deep his thoughts ran.
He didn′t just talk about his work. He even talked about the little things in life, like which phone he should get to replace his broken one and whether he should start going on defense instead of being the pitcher in his baseball team because his shoulder is in bad condition.
He even said that recently when he was reading the book I Regret Marrying My Wife, he took off the cover in case others would misunderstand him. The statement betrayed a glimpse into his difficulties as a top star yet shone with a humorous and friendly air.
I wondered what this man lacked. He was a man who even other men would be jealous of.
How did you decide to appear in ′Dangerous Liaisons′? It′s your first film since ′My Way′.
"I wanted to try a role that makes me look good on the outside. I was tired of myself, and [when I got the scenario] it felt just like when I had received the scenario for Friend. It was the meeting point between the thoughts of the public and of the audience. It didn′t feel strange. It felt okay in that sense."
Coincidentally, both of your recent roles were playboys. Did you change in any way after those roles?
"It helped me learn more about female psychology. There were scenes I couldn′t understand when I filmed it, but I learned after that women like back hugs.... (Laugh) I′m a human being too. I feel jealous about little things.... I think I took out those things I tried to hide in reality and showed them to the world. That′s what′s good about being an actor."
Did you watch the other films made out of the same original [as ′Dangerous Liaisons′]? It must′ve been a burden.
"I purposefully didn′t watch them. I was afraid I would be prejudiced. The Chinese reporters said that Leslie Cheung really wanted to play this role. I was burdened by that fact."
The emotions you exchange between Cecilia Cheung and Zhang Ziyi seemed to be very important for the piece. How was your teamwork with them?
"It′s been seven to eight years since I last saw Cecilia Cheung after The Promise. I felt she was really young then, but in seven years I could see she had matured after getting through many hardships. I could feel her aura as an actress too. This is my first time with Zhang Ziyi. She was very strict in her work. She never yielded when it came to acting."
I think it′s the first time I′ve seen you in a bed scene. I was disappointed at how much was revealed.
"It′s my first time. I′ve never had anything beyond a kiss scene. We didn′t think about how much to reveal; we just went with the emotions. None of it was edited out. It was set just right for the Chinese audiences. I never avoided bed scenes; I just wasn′t in any films that would′ve fit such scenes. I mostly starred in films for males, and I rarely had films in which I acted with female actresses as my counterpart."
Didn′t your wife, Go So Young, have anything to say about it?
"My wife hasn′t seen the completed film yet. She asked me whether I really thought I had to [act in the film] after reading the scenario. (Laugh) I comforted her saying that director Heo Jin Ho would be with us. Since we′re in the same business she′s very understanding."
Some say you′re burdened by bed scenes.
"Actually after my baby was born being in love scenes sometimes weighs on my mind. I keep thinking of what it would be like if my son got old enough to go to middle school or high school and saw those scenes."
You′ve stayed in China for five days, then went on promotions and came to the ′Busan International Film Festival′. You′ve probably never been home; did your wife say anything about it?
"She knows I′m not playing around.... (Laugh) I didn′t do anything wrong, but I do believe she would feel down. I′m especially sad that I don′t get to play with my son much. He′s just started to talk, but since I′m not at home often.... It′s an important stage in which children get attached to their parents. They say his mother can scold him, but I can′t. I want to be with my child more often even though it means I would have to cut back on work."
What do you think about your own acting?
"I do still feel I lack many things. I actually feel weak about being known as a handsome actor. I want to be a good actor, and I think that′s where these feelings stem from. There′s no real standard to judge acting skills with. I′m proud when I build my character well, but I become sad when I don′t. I′m not an actor who′s born with the talent."
You′re a successful actor from the public′s point of view. What do you think about yourself?
"It depends on where my standards lie. I think I′m still in the process of getting there. Thinking back to when I was still in school, I think I′ve achieved more than I could think of then. When I think back to those times I become thankful that I can do so many things now."
Dangerous Liaisons was also invited to the 65th Cannes Film Festival and the 37th Toronto Film Festival. It premieres in Korea on October 11.
Photo credit: Hea Jung Min