Wednesday, 7 May 2008

An Interview with Kwon Sang Woo

In this exclusive interview conducted by Newsen (April 2008), Kwon Sang Woo talks about his latest movie Destiny (2008) and what kind of roles he would like to play in the future. The handsome 32-year-old actor reveals that doctor or lawyer roles do not land on his doorstep because he does not have the “distinguished” look.

Kwon chats candidly and answers some never-before-asked questions revealing that he is proud of where he is today. Unlike many actors who had to leave for military service at the height of their careers, Kwon served his compulsory two years early, before he became an actor. He relates that his years in military service as a drill instructor has helped shaped him and he became more independent and wiser from it.

Kwon comes from a single parent family and was raised by his mother who wanted him to become a teacher, not an actor. This self-made man has surfaced from an unknown nobody to become one of South Korea’s most sought after actor.

Interviewer: You played a 'funny' villain in the movie 'Destiny'. Was it supposed to be so on the script?
KSW: I saw the audience in the preview screening laughing, so I think I've done a good job. I'm satisfied with my acting (in the movie). The role was supposed to be more evil and cold-blooded (than the one I actually portrayed in the movie) on the script, but if someone is bad from the beginning to the end of the movie, it's just a real bad guy. I wanted to describe Chuljoong (his character in the movie) as a bad guy with a reason. It is his family that Chuljoong is living for (so he's a family man after all). He is a not-so-smart, not-so-perfect villain. But nobody likes him in the movie. He's a lonely guy.

I: Your acting seems more relaxed and natural in "Destiny".
Probably, I like it that way. I've been saying this many times, I guess people think I don't look elite. I can know it because nobody offers me a role like a doctor or a lawyer. Even when I'm in a business suit, unbuttoning a button or two would fit me better. I think I will fancy that sort of (relaxed) roles.

Ruggedly handsome and relaxed...

I: How about a cold and intelligent role?
KSW: I like it. I might play it one day.

I: There is not so much action in 'Destiny'.
KSW: I'm going to do real action movies later, a serious one.

I: In movies such as 'Maljooguri’ (the one KSW played a high school student) or 'The beast', you seem to prefer masculine roles.
Not really, I've been choosing good movies and roles, not the ones I could play masculine roles. It's just a coincidence. I also like to play romantic roles.

I: Yes, the drama 'Big Stuff' was a quite romantic one, but you've been playing various types of roles in your movies.
KSW: Actually I have so many roles I want to play and I'm eager to play all of them. The personalities of roles in dramas are sort of routine. I wanted to break away from it. It is not usual when a playboy is a main character in a drama ('Big Stuff'). And he is a playboy with good dancing skills so I had to learn the Jitterbug!

I: When you choose a movie, do you try to choose a different character from the ones you have done before?
KSW: Yes, I have zeal to play new characters and most of all, I don't wanna rely on a same image all the time.

I: Many people think that action movies fit you better than others.
KSW: I haven't really taken only action roles, it just happened so. I still have many things to show inside of me. That's why I chose 'Destiny'. I wanted to hear people saying, 'It's fresh to see him doing that sort of role.’

I: What did the director want you to do in Destiny?
KSW: I think I just tried my best to do what he wanted me to do. I don't really remember particular things, but I think he advised me quite a lot about how to read lines.

I: Yes, you seemed to stabilize your unique way to read lines in this movie.
Actually I'm not really satisfied with the recording (of my lines). I had another thing to do on the day of recording so I couldn't join the team. I had to do it later alone in a hotel room in Australia. I had planned to try another way (to read lines) but finally I just did it like what I used to again (note: he meant he couldn't concentrate on the recording because of the poor and hasty recording condition so he failed to do what he planned before).

I: You swear a lot in this movie. Aren’t you worried about it affecting your public image?
Movies and dramas demand different acting styles (from actors). In dramas, you do what you are asked to do. You don't get many chances to show yourself. Movies are different; you get more chances to be yourself. I was just being myself in Destiny. I do swear in my real life, especially when I'm angry. Sometimes I swear even more than Chuljoong. Chuljoong was supposed to swear a lot in the movie so if I didn't swear, that would be strange. As you know, swearing is allowed in movies but not in dramas (note: swearing is not allowed on Korean TV). Guys show their friendship by swearing. I swear at Song Seung Hun too.

The soft spoken and charming Kwon Sang Woo
takes an unexpected turn in Destiny and swears a lot in the movie...

I: Don't you think you are at a great disadvantage because of your honesty?
Actually Song Seung Hun has also told me that I'm too honest and I better not be so honest. But I don't want to lie to myself. Interviewers want to know more and I just tell them about me. I think I'm 10% more honest compared to other actors. I like my personality anyway, because when I am honest to others, they would do so to me too.

I: It is your first movie in the last 2 years. Aren't you worried?
KSW: The 2 years passed so fast. I think I'm an optimist. I don't regret or want to go back to that time. I just want to enjoy my life whether it's happy or sad.

I: Do you feel your acting has improved after each movie?
Yes, I think I've been improving. Although Bad Love was such a failure (note:I think he meant the poor popularity of the drama, not his acting).

I: So what did you learn while filming Destiny?
KSW: The best thing I got from this movie (Destiny) is that I learned how to show more characters inside of me. Actually before joining this movie, I decided to be rookie-minded. I visited an acting instructor with a drink (for him) and talked a lot with him about the movie and practiced many times how to read lines. There were young students around me who were learning from him but I wasn't ashamed about it. I prepared for this movie very hard to be satisfied and confident. I don't think I've ever prepared for a movie this hard.

I: What does this movie mean to you?
KSW: It's my first movie I acted in my 30's and I finally got out of my image from my 20's. That is meaningful for me. Chuljoong is a supporting role in the movie. If the movie and director is good, I wouldn't mind if my role is not the main role.

Usually the leading man, Kwon plays
Chuljoong in a supporting role in Destiny.

I: You've done your military service more than ten years ago. But Ji Sung and Song Seung Hun finished their military service quite recently. I've heard you guys talked a lot about your army days during filming.
C'mon man, they've done nothing! The military service now is much shorter and relaxed than when I was doing it. So when they started to say how tough it was, I just wanted to hit their heads (laughs). I think the military service helped me a lot on my acting. I was a drill instructor at a boot camp back then. I applied for it because I thought it would be an easier job but it wasn't really. I haven't really been relaxed for the whole service term. I had to study and practice hard to instruct new soldiers. So the time passed really fast. I think I've learned a lot from the military service. I became more independent and it was also a good chance to plan my life in the future. It would be too late to start acting if I went to army later; I was already 23 when I finished serving.

I: What's the difference when comparing yourself now to ten years ago?
KSW: Well, you know, I literally became a star. My mother wanted me to be a teacher as I studied art education. So it was not she who helped me to be an actor. I had to do it all on my own. I came to Seoul (to be an actor) with nothing in my pockets and when I look at myself now, I feel proud of myself.
I remember a friend of mine telling me this after I have just finished working on my very first movie. He recalled the time when we went to Kyungpodae (a famous beach in Korea) right after finishing our university entrance test, we were quite drunk and we started to talk about what we wanted to become in the future. He reminded me that I said I wanted to be an actor. Actually I don't remember that I said so (since I was too drunk). He said he felt proud of me because I had achieved my dream.

I: You said you tried to be rookie-minded in this movie. In your eight years of career, what has changed in your life as an actor, and as a person?
When I just started acting, I was really shy and couldn't really talk to others. I was OK when I see my friends, but I used to get really shy when I meet people in the business. I think I overcame it finally. My personality has also been changed and I'm not so shy anymore. I've learned a lot during the eight years.

I: So what did you lose?
KSW: I lost my freedom.

I: So what do you do when you need to get away from things? Other celebrities travel abroad where people don't recognize them.
KSW: Koreans are everywhere in the world. I was really surprised when I was visiting Sydney last time. I had just finished my lunch and was walking down the street, and many of the people on the street were Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

I: What do you feel when Chinese or Japanese, not Koreans, recognize you?
Of course I thank them. Some people view Hallyu (Korean Wave) negatively but Koreans in Japan really appreciate Korean actors. They say things are really different over there before Winter Sonata and after. Before, some facilities had signs such as 'Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans are prohibited here'. Now Koreans are treated even better than Japanese.

I: So do you feel great responsibility as a Hallyu star?
KSW: Not really, I'm not the one who leads the whole Hallyu and I just think each individual can do his best. They can act well in good dramas just like what they do in Korea.

I: I've heard you've built a KSW resort.
KSW: There's a resort named Ocean Blue Bali Resort in Bali and there's another newly built one next to it. I’ve been contracted to model for the resort for five years and I am the third biggest stockholder of the resort. This is how I am connected to the resort. I've heard many Koreans and Japanese visit the resort. (sigh… why do Korean news articles always end with this sort of semi-advertisement?)

Translated by Joe Gimm

Source: Newsen

Pics credit: Newsen

Also check out:
Want to see Kwon Sang Woo dance the Rhumba?
Kwon Sang Woo talks about girlfriend
Kwon Sang-woo & Song Seung-hun talk Destiny


Wanda said...

An interesting interview! I love Kwon Sang-Woo. He's so hot. Funny though, I think he'd be awesome in a role as a lawyer or a doctor. He might not think he's distinguished-looking enough, but if Jang Dong-Gun can play a doctor, why not Sang-Woo? It's really eye opening to hear him say that he's lost his freedom. How true for him and any other celebrity. Suddenly he's become public property and there's no way to hide. I'm looking forward to seeing his new movie and even though I wasn't a big fan of Bad Love, I still hope to see him in more Kdramas in the future. He's gorgeous and he seems like a genuinely nice man.

Anonymous said...

'Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans are prohibited here'...what the fxxk? where is this place? by the way nice article on Kwon Sang Woo!!!

Kim said...

thanks for this article! loved it!!!!

Anonymous said...

his body is 100x better than his face

ksw said...

So he's a major share holder for the Ocean Blue Resort in Bali! Now we know. I bet he can go there for some R&R whenever he feels like it!


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