AERA Special Edition No.51 9/30 issue
Evolving Hanryu (Korean Wave) - Bae Yongjoon "April Snow" (Part 1)
From "April Snow" he makes love evolving.
Is there any Asian star who has been loved by a large number of people this much?
Bae Yongjoon, an actor who has gained popularity and passionate support not only in Japan but in various parts of Asia as well. In his second starring film "April Snow", he challenged the difficult role who agonizes in love. His natural performance painfully shakes the hearts of the audience.
What does he think and will aim for now that he has reached a fresh ground as an actor? He talked about his determination quietly but passionately.Interviewer and writer: Rumi Hayashi ( Books Editorial Division)
Photographer : Osamu Kobayashi (Photographing Center)
On the final day of coverage in his visit to Japan, and that, as the last scheduled coverage, Bae Yongjoon appeared in the interview gallantly with that smile in which not a tint of fatigue was impressed, though he must have managed to finish awfully hard schedules.
Valiant appearance and overflowing dignity. He performed an ordinary man in this film, but still, the word 'young noble' did fit him who was standing in front of this writer. Maybe because of his longer hair, he looked more youthful than in the film, and the figure slimmer than before impressed his good style.
On seeing me, he walked towards me for shaking hands. As soon as I greeted him in Korean, he answered back ‘Omeni kakarete ureshii desu.( Glad to see you.)’ in beautiful Japanese in that low voice.
"April Snow (Original Title "Wea Chul")" is an extraordinary talked-about film which will be simultaneously released in 10 Asian countries, and for whose press conference in Japan more than 1,100 mass media people gathered. I imagine the pressure put on his shoulder seems unfathomably big.
Insoo he played is a difficult role who, in the agony of being betrayed by his wife, is getting to know a new love. In the press conference in Korea, he said, "I almost feel ashamed as if I were exposing my own experience."
I hear you haven’t seen the film in Seoul and in Japan, either. Why?BYJ
: To be honest, I feel tense very much. The working style I took in this film was what I have been wanting to but couldn’t do in the past. Because this is the work which was shot by such a new methodology for the first time, I am much worried about how the audience will respond to my new acting. When I come back to Seoul, I think I will watch the film in secret with the audience in the theater. Thus, I would like to enjoy the film in the same air with other people.
In that case, you have to disguise yourself in costume, don’t you? Hahaha, but it will be nice!
In the film I can see, in particular, the weak part as well as the unbeautiful part , and pitifulness in man. I know you all had a hard time in shooting the film, but how come you became able to do such a natural performance?BYJ
:This time I determined that I would live a life as the man, Insoo, not to mention in the site of shooting but also in the hours other than shooting. So far I had prepared myself thoroughly for the role I would play before entering the performance. When I didn’t complete the situation or the emotional magnitude of the role yet, I almost impossibly couldn’t act in front of a camera.
But, this time, instead of acting through words, I tried to feel the emotion, what I feel in each moment, rather than act it. And I was supposed to create the situation itself by myself. Without any preparation, without any calculation. If any preparation I was allowed to do, it was only a preparation for the heart which will determine to become a man himself.
This work, of course, was very hard for me, but while advancing, I came to have somewhat a strange feeling. I unawares came to be able to express or react to spontaneously what I couldn’t feel in the past from time to time. I gradually came to make such things without noticing.
Because I had never thought that I could express such feelings and actions in front of a camera, it was a new discovery for me. In that sense, this is a work which served a big harvest for me. Finishing this work, I can expect myself in the next work, and in the further following work. I think I have grown to be able to learn various things.
To quote the scenes concretely, I find a reality in the figure which is not smart, such as in the scenes where drunken Insoo bangs the door wrongly, or where he cries in his motel room alone. I almost believe that it may be the real figure of Bae Yongjoonssi
: Ah, that is an impressive scene for me, too. In the scene where Insoo cries in a motel alone, if it were old me, I would have calculated immediately, thinking of the position of the camera, of the angle in which I am shot, and would have considered I have to show myself like this and that. I would have thought it is important to have a communication with a camera. That is, I had always cared about beforehand how I would be shot. This time, however, I did not think at all how I acted. I was only thinking I would like to be faithful to the feeling at that time. That’s all.
In that scene I cried with nasal mucus flowing. But, I didn’t even realize it at all. If formerly, when I had a running nose in such a crying scene, I would have definitely wiped it or hidden it, would have done something like that. At that time, however, because I was actually crying without noticing it, I found it on the monitor later, "Ah, I had a running nose!" [Chris: I remembered the whole theatre was giggling away when we all saw that scene. And yeah, I was surprised, too, that Yong Joon would allow that to be shown.]
The scene where Insoo gets drunk and goes to sleep in the room of Seoyoung is also impressive. Insoo who wakes up in the next morning with his hair disheveled looks very innocent and strikingly real. [Chris: And extremely cute and sexy! *giggles*]BYJ
: That’s right. The wake-up scene you talked about now is the only scene in this film which the director gave me OK for the first time by one take. It’s the only scene completed by one take, for the first and the last.
With this work, I rather think that the director gave us OK comparatively soon in the scenes we express strong feelings. For example, for the scene where I burst into tears while drinking alcohol together with his junior, the scene where I get drunk and knock on the door of a motel, and the scene where I cry alone in a motel, OK came out by about 2 takes.
I heard there were only a few scenes which the director gave OK sign quite easily, weren’t there?BYJ
: Yes, we shot one scene at least 15 times, and as many as 60 times at most, over and over again. In that aspect, Director Hur Jinho may have something common with me in respect of being a ‘perfectionist’.
At such time, what kind of conversation did you have with the director?BYJ
: Since he just told me "Try to turn completely into a person", I had no choice but to do what the character might feel.
In this work, there were almost no situation and lines which had been completely decided beforehand. We talked with the director scene by scene, and sometimes roughly discussed what Insoo might have thought at a certain time. But, he didn’t give us any decisive advice. He said it was the most important for the work to express what we felt by ourselves to the last. To say about him most, he would just say "Oh, that may be right." (laughter) So, I feel we have created the film at each moment.
The director simply told us "Well, let's start." But, since nothing wasn't decided then, I didn't understand what I should do. For example, there was a scene where Insoo and Seoyoung were standing. He gave no direction at all to us except for the two persons being there. So I asked him "What should I do?", and he just said, "Just be standing there." That's it! I was totally puzzled. I thought still there should be anything more. For a while, I felt very awkward. Then the director said OK! Wondering why this was OK, I asked him and was said, "That awkward feeling was good." He told me that performance should be not what actors make but what comes spontaneously out of the feeling they feel at the moment. I think I have studied and felt a lot from Director Hur Jinho.