A big thanks to AnnMichelle for translating this extremely long interview! She told me that “This interview is the reason I will love him always…” So I hope you’ll enjoy reading it! 😛
Q: Even though you’ve appeared in many TV dramas, this is your first movie. Must be quite worrying.
A: Yes. All things considered, movies have more distinct theme or goal than TV dramas. In some cases, dramas can be adjusted according to audience feedback as the series airs. But a movie has to accurately predetermine its story and identify its target audience from the get go. That takes a lot of efforts. Being a romantic comedy, Love Forecast has a very clear view on love style.
Q: What kind of love style does it try to portray?
A: Isn’t romantic comedy a light-hearted and pleasant genre? In Love Forecast, both the director and I have similar ideas about love style. I told the director that although bad guys were often the center of attention, how about those who were a little foolish but very serious about love? I said that not because I was jealous about not having the good looks to play bad guys (laugh). Surprisingly the director said he was the prudent type too. So we were two of the same on that (laugh).
Q: You must have received a lot of movie casting offers. Isn’t it a bit late for your big screen debut?
A: I thought about acting in movies way before. But what with dramas, variety shows, albums, and concerts, things that I had to do in one year’s schedule, I simply didn’t have the time. I believe when I work on a movie I have to put the other stuff aside and concentrate on it. It was not until I ended regular appearances on variety shows that my choice has widened. After careful screening I settled on Love Forecast.
Q: Are you the type that focuses on digging deeper once a new mission starts?
A: Yes. When I was about to film the movie, I really watched a lot movies. I had never watched so many movies before in my life. When I start focusing on something, I will try to dig more with great urgency. That does not mean I won’t lose interest fast too (laugh). My style is like if I want to do something, I want to get to it right away.
Q: Did you ask for guidance from your acquaintances before the movie filming started?
A: I called Teacher Yoon Yeo-jeong many times to ask for guidance. But Teacher said, “Kiddo, I read the script. The story is about very young people.” Also, she told me, “I have not used that kind of tone so I don’t know.” (laugh). She suggested, “Movie is an art led by the director. So you have to talk with the director often.” Don’t be nervous and afraid of making mistakes on the set like in a drama shoot. Discuss with the director to understand where the character’s coming from. That’s what she told me.
Q: It seems that you always prepare thoroughly before taking on a challenge.
A: Correct. Even though I have not had major failure but in ten years I have felt some pains of failure here and there. I am always mindful because of increasing expectations for me. No matter what I do, I check and double check if I have done anything wrong. In this regard my agency does a better job than me, so I trust and follow their advice. If I, as an actor, can gain something from a project, then for its benefit on future development I would take it on. If I can’t learn or gain anything, even if the project is very successful, I still won’t feel happy or enjoy it. As I spend more time in this industry, my goal is not simply achieving big success. The joy gained on the set is more important.
Q: Love Forecast is a movie developed largely from Joon-soo’s point of view. But compared to the immature Hyun-woo, Joon-soo’s character doesn’t really stand out. Is it difficult to hold onto your role while assisting a partner with a very strong personality?
A: Very grateful you can appreciate this point. I would like to play a showy character too. In fact I have chosen projects because of that reason. But the most important thing in any projects is the ensemble with other actors. A really good actor can play not just outstanding roles, but also be very good at assisting. When you control your desires to be showy and instead merge into the movie, audience will appreciate the effort. There are cases where very famous actors do special appearances or supporting roles to make the lead actors more cool, right? When I watched those actors I felt their acting skills were really wonderful. In Love Forecast there are many parts where Hyun-woo is stronger and more visible than Joon-soo, but from the standpoint of romantic comedy, it’s great to have the lead actress more beautiful and vivid. I can always play a standout role the next time. So in this romantic comedy I decided to totally be the foil of the lead actress. That’s how the present chemistry between Hyun-woo and Joon-soo came about. Therefore it’s okay if Joon-soo is a little less prominent (laugh).
Q: You weren’t greedy about a more standout role for your big screen debut?
A: I wanted a fun project above all. Since a few years ago, I’ve wanted to play a fun role rather than serious roles like in The King 2 Hearts and Gu Family Book. While rehearsing with Cha Seung Won hyung in You’re All Surrounded, we fooled around with comic acting and had lots of laughs. I said if we acted in a comedy together it’d probably be a movie like Two Cops, and we laughed. I received the script of romantic comedy then. I wanted to do it without considering whether the male lead stood out or not. Audience would think Lee Seung Gi worked very well with his co-star and made extra effort to NOT hog the limelight in the movie. If so, I can do projects with a less prominent character anytime.
Q: I like your acting in little comic moments like the scene where your hand bumped into the railings and you mumbled to yourself.
A: That was an ad-lib. So was the scene where I said, “You pooping?” to Hyun-woo. In fact it was an accident that I bumped into the railings as we filmed. I just continued as if nothing had happened. Personally, I like understated comedy, slight comedy. There were also scenes that may have escaped audience’s attention but I found very funny. Such as the drunken scene by the Han River where Joon-soo said, “I’ve watched over her from behind for eighteen years,” and then suddenly changed his tone, “Ah, I am going nuts.” This kind of sudden shift in tone is my comedy style. In the script it was written as “I’ve watched over her for eighteen years, (sigh) I am really going crazy,” with a whining-like tone. I added in my own style when I acted.
Q: Is variety experience helpful to your comedy acting?
A: Of course. They are all related. Also Teacher Yoon Yeo-jeong told me that all acting, including comedy, has to be done sincerely. It won’t be funny at all if you acted only to make people laugh in a comedy. If the lines were caricatured like Gag Concert, they would actually be less funny.
Q: So it’s the character being earnest that makes the audience laugh.
A: Right. I think even comedy acting has to be done seriously. Actors have to believe it’s a real situation to make it funny.
Q: Your comedy acting was good, but I also liked the elevator scene. What was your emphasis when you acted that scene?
A: Actually that was my personal favorite scene. I never thought I had such a facial expression. But looking through the monitor, it was better than I thought (laugh). I was also amazed by how I did it, how I made that expression. It seems to be just a natural reflection of what I felt about the situation.
Q: You didn’t do it to express something in particular?
A: It wasn’t like that. Even if I intended to express something, I don’t think my face would come out like that. There are many such cases. As for comedy, I actually got a lot of inspiration from different places. The scene of saying “You pooping?” to Hyun-woo was acted while remembering the image of the crushed chick from messenger emoticons. I always find that emoticon very cute.
[Like this? 😆 (s: dclsg)]
The tone when I called Hyun-woo by the river, “The call was cut off, what should I do?” was modeled on the show ‘Superman Is Back.’ The scene I watched where Min-Guk said, “Where’s Robocop Poly? Where?” was just too cute. So I’ve been imitating Min-guk, and that high tone just came out of me unwittingly while filming. It’s not my usual speaking voice. I like variety, so I watch it a lot. It’s become a habit.
Q: You pay a lot of attention to details (laugh).
A: I don’t try to, but others see me as detail-oriented (laugh). I just make use of funny acts I see on TV.
Q: When you were on Gyro Drop, you tried to make a heart gesture but could not quite lift your arms. You looked really scared (laugh).
A: I could not lift my arms not because I was scared; it was because the safety bar was too bulky so I could only lift up so much (laugh).
Q: I thought your acting terrified was so great, but that wasn’t the case? (laugh)
A: I WAS really scared. Ugh, I don’t think I could do it again.
Q: Didn’t you promise to ride it again if the movie surpassed 5 million audience?
A: If that is the case then I will ride it gladly (laugh). I said I’d be so happy that I could ride it even without the safety bar (laugh).
Q: The title is ‘Today’s Love’ so I expected a story about ‘some’ [ambiguous] relationship that’s in vogue nowadays. But it was too bad that part seemed to get downplayed in the movie.
A: I think it was a focused choice. It was either to show the form of ‘some,’ or to use ‘some’ only as a tool in order to tell a story about the value of love. And Love Forecast chose the latter. The message to female audience is: “Don’t you want to have Joon-soo kind of love for once?” To men in a ‘some’ relationship, it recommends, “Even the lackluster fool can win out with his candor sometimes (laugh).
Q: Are you the type that carefully analyzes all the lines when acting?
A: I used to try to understand all the lines before I acted. But if you think about it, what we say is not always very meaningful, or 100% matching with what we think. Sometimes we say nice things to smooth over a situation, and sometimes we embellish words that could be left unsaid. There are also times when we say things like we understand but in fact we don’t. So words have many forms. In that respect, I think I just act naturally.
Q: Some opined that the images of the characters you’ve played are repetitive.
A: That has always been pointed out so I’m used to it. Because I achieved good results since early in my debut, the appraisal standards naturally went up. But anyway, when a pop star appears in a commercial movie, box office success should be kept in mind. If possible, I think it’s good to choose a project that falls under the intersection of what I do well, what I want to do, and what the audience wants to see from me. However it’s very difficult to satisfy everyone. That’s why I am always troubled by it. Although I didn’t decide on Love Forecast through strategies, I considered many things when choosing the movie. I wanted to play a somewhat interesting role. I thought if it was a romantic comedy, I could do well and also approach audience a little more easily. If the movie was a box-office failure, even if I made a total transformation in image, I don’t think the audience will be satisfied or complimentary. There might be reactions like, why did you try to transform unnecessarily, just keep doing what you did. I feel it’s always a matter of choice. I know there’s talk that I only take the easy options, but I’d like to think it’s because my acting is not too bad that criticism like this arises. I’m working hard to continuously grow. I know it’s very difficult to elicit special sympathy in similar roles. Although there are people who think the images are repetitive, in all honesty I’ve worked very hard for every project.
Q: What you want to do, what you are good at, and what audience expects. To bring these three together is not easy. And it seems to be your secret to accumulating good experiences without big failures so far.
A: Actually, I’ve tried to transform. Five, six years after my debut there was some concern that there was a little too much consumption of my image and whether I should try something different. There were also opinions that it was time to show masculinity. Therefore the project The King 2 Hearts was chosen. Lee Jae Ha in The King 2 Hearts was an extremely manly role, right? And Choi Kang Chi in Gu Family Book, transforming into a beast while wildly ripping up his clothes, was the terminator of manliness (laugh). I acted in You’re All Surrounded because I wanted to try playing a chic and sexy guy, but you can’t transform with intention alone. Some people said my usual self in Noonas Over Flowers was actually extremely manly (laugh). So ultimately I think the correct answer is that when I can learn something, have a desire to do well, and do what I like, the transformation would come naturally.
Q: Movies have a broader range of genres than TV dramas. Is there a particular role you’d like to try?
A: After watching the filming of Love Forecast, I understood why movies can have such diverse subject matters, and I thought movie work was really interesting. If I am to work on movies again, I would like to try various characters like a professional or a bad guy. But not a cruel bad guy wielding a chain saw or a sickle (laugh). I did think about villain characters that can come from my image, and it was someone who seems nice but is very evil inside. Like a psychopath.
Q: You don’t seem to fear having a bad guy image.
A: Ah, but a villain role is great. My closest acquaintances have said that if I won an acting daesang, it’d be for a villain role. I am not sure if that’s a compliment (laugh). Maybe I have an image like a great criminal mastermind (laugh). Someone with my looks would be like a real swindler if he went out swindling (laugh). There aren’t many real swindlers who look like swindlers.
Q: So you want to play a character with reversal that makes use of your upstanding and exemplary image.
A: That’s right. So I am looking for a director who can make good use of my image (laugh). Anyway, a lot of people were anxious to see how much box office success Lee Seung Gi could achieve in his movie career, so it’s a relief that Love Forecast had a good start.
Q: What did you gain from Love Forecast?
A: I think it was my acting that delivered even though my role didn’t stand out. If I was greedy and tried to grab the limelight in Love Forecast, I don’t think the result would be good. Also I tried hard to act very naturally. In TV dramas there are lots of bust shots or tight bust shots, so basically you need to get through the dialogue without any mistakes. But movies aren’t like that. Through Love Forecast I learned how to act naturally following my inner feelings as much as possible. I think that’s the biggest asset (I gained).
Q: What would Lee Seung Gi be like ten years from now?
A: It’d be wonderful if I can continue to work in all the fields. But instead of simply changing fields, it’s more about gaining depth now. I would like to accumulate skills and experiences that can show an indisputable figure in each field. I will work toward that in the future.
Chinese translation by Airen永远爱你 @ Baidu Tieba
Chinese to English translation by AnnMichelle, special contributor to Everything LSG
Korean to English editing by tryp96.wordpress.com