[Interview] Ryu Seung Ryong Says He Gained Respect from His Wife with ′The Gift of Room 7′
Ryu Seung Ryong is back as a mentally challenged man who cares so much for his daughter. Though he′s always known for taking up the most difficult roles, such as that of a foreign warrior, loyal subject and casanova, he confessed that this role was the most difficult of all.
He said it was because if he didn′t hold a definite standard, the character could become unrealistic, and even make it seem as if he was making fun of his own role. Still, Ryu Seung Ryong pulled through, helped on with his powers of observation and his endless memos.
His efforts shone even in the public′s eyes. His film, The Gift of Room 7, has been sweeping through the box office in a storm. Enews met with the man behind the success, who said he′s surprised every day at the reactions he′s been getting about the film.
"It feels great. Of course the audience numbers are important, but the comments are also so passionate and favorable that I′m surprised. The audience liked War of the Arrows, All About My Wife and Masquerade, but the reactions weren′t this passionate."
In the film, he appears as Yong Gu, a man who is mentally challenged yet is made to live in jail after being framed as a murderer. What did this film mean to him, who is in reality the father of two sons?
"My sons watched the film and they said they cried so much. My wife came to see me with puffy eyes because she had cried so hard. She told me for the first time that she respects me. She always used to say ′you′ve worked hard′ or ′take care of yourself′, and it felt great to hear that she ′respects′ me. (Laugh) I actually don′t show I′m tired at home. I want to let my family see me act like it′s a present. It′s the kind of event only actors can put on."
This actor has rarely been paired with stunning, beautiful co-stars, but this time around, he met the best partner he could find, the child actress Gal So Won. She appears as his daughter Ye Seung. Ryu Seung Ryong, who has no daughters, said she was the real present for him.
"So Won had never even studied at an acting school, yet she was still great. We had to appear as a father and daughter that is really close, so we spent a lot of time together on set. She′s cute, like other children her age. It was great because she was really like the child she should be, and at times she would be mature and thoughtful. She even sent me a text, reading ′Merry Christmas, Dad′ on Christmas. It′s like I′ve gained a daughter."
Every theater in which the film plays is full of the sounds of sniffling. The Gift of Room 7 is that potent; Oh Dal Su, another cast member, once said he wasn′t able to read the scenario as quickly as he would have liked because he was busy crying over its contents. Ryu Seung Ryong also said it touched him deep in his heart.
"I didn′t cry over it because I had acted in it, but I think I would have if it had been executed by another actor. I held back tears for two scenes; the first was when Ye Seung took down her bag while she was waiting for her father who wouldn′t come, and the second was when she looked out of the window of an orphanage while it was pouring outside. I think I related a lot to So Won. (Laugh)"
Some criticized that Yong Gu was put through too many trials, that the movie forced tears by handing another harsh situation to a man who already leads a hard life due to his disability. Ryu Seung Ryong, however, thought differently.
"It may feel like a common storyline, to make audiences laugh then suddenly cry. It also feels a bit too melodramatic. Still, the reason I chose this piece was because I hoped others would start to look differently on minorities. We chose to abuse the character in the end, but ordinary adults also are hit with many unjust situations in their lives. Many fathers endure unfair situations for their children. Yong Gu represents that as a symbol."
Ryu Seung Ryong will be taking on the two biggest actors of the scene, Kim Yun Suk and Ha Jung Woo, with the film. The Gift of Room 7 premiered around the same time as The Berlin File and Run to the South.
"I haven′t seen either film, but I′m curious because I′ve heard they′re very well made. Since they′re great actors, I believe they′ll have fit in seamlessly. For some time actually, actors like us (?) weren′t able to lead in films. I′m happy because it feels like Yun Suk hyungnim (big brother), Jung Woo and I are adding to the diversity of Korean films. (Laugh)"
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan
- Ryu Seung Ryong 20130208