Translation: @teappani/twitter [ PLEASE CREDIT & LINK BACK TO TWITTER WHEN REPOSTING]
Ji Chang Wook entered the studio with light steps, carrying an iced Americano. His slim body and wide shoulders captivate the eyes. In response to being told that his body got even better than before, he laughed saying, “I worked out a lot, that’s why.” For 3 months he had to continuously work out and watch his diet for the drama, unable to relax due to the high difficulty action scenes in the drama. There’s no hint of laziness to be seen from his body.
Ji Chang Wook got ready for the shoot after he greeted the staff with joyful high fives. After a while, a guest with a gentle impression came to the studio with a dog. “This is my Mom. Our house is right in front so I asked her to come when she’s walking the dog.” As his Mother was leaving the studio, Ji Chang Wook turned to face her, waved both hands and said, “Bye Mom!” in an affectionate voice.
When the shoot began, the image of the son who has a lot of aegyo (T/N: cute charm) also went home with his Mom. Ji Chang Wook understood the concept of the shoot, which was inspired by Matt Damon’s Bourne series, and showed many poses. Here’s the conversation I had with Ji Chang Wook, a unique actor who has shown terrific growth year after year.
JLOOK: I heard that your last shooting for the drama was yesterday. How do you feel?
JCW: The shooting ended at 4am in the early morning today. I didn’t really feel it when the shooting ended but it felt more real after I woke up in the morning. Today I didn’t have to put on any bloody makeup or feel any pressure from the script so I felt more carefree.
JLOOK: This drama had an awful lot of action. Wasn’t it difficult physically?
JCW: It was really difficult. From Episode 1 through Episode 16, I don’t think there was a day when I didn’t have to put on makeup for sweat, wounds, or blood. For Episodes 15 and 16, I was constantly covered in sweat and blood and looked like I was about to die. In that sense, it was a project that I had to really push myself.
JLOOK: How did you endure it?
JCW: Sense of responsibility and pride; sense of burden. These feelings enabled me to keep moving forward. When it was really exhausting and I thought about just doing it roughly, my pride didn’t allow me to do that. I also had the responsibility of being the lead so I would clench my teeth and persevere through it. I also felt a sense of burden because of the salary I received as well as the hardship the staff went through. I was able to endure it all because of a mixture of such feelings I think.
JLOOK: Did you get injured?
JCW: No. I was really nervous about not getting hurt. Actually for the dangerous shoots the tension was very high, so it was less likely to get hurt. (T/N: meaning everyone was more likely to be alert) Unexpectedly, it’s when shooting scenes that were more ordinary that injuries were more likely to occur.
JLOOK: The action scene in the shower where you’re fighting naked, 13 vs 1, became a hot issue.
JCW: It was a new experience. Actually, when I saw the script, I couldn’t envision how it would be filmed. It’s difficult to make a naked fight scene in the shower come out in a cool manner after all. I was full of doubt as we did the shooting for about 8 hours but the footage came out in a cool and interesting way. It’s different.
JLOOK: When you got the role did you worry it would be a similar genre and role to ‘Healer’?
JCW: It could be possible to think that both dramas are similar, so I also worried a lot over it in the beginning. But in ‘Healer’ the character Junghoo was more boyish and manhwa-like (T/N: like a boy out of comic books) compared to Jeha, who was more realistic and manly. So I worried a lot over things like hair, make up and outfits.
JLOOK: Besides ‘Empress Ki’, you have chosen works that have a lot of action portions in them, such as ‘Whirlwind Girl 2’, the film ‘Fabricated City’ and of course now ‘The K2’. Is it because of a fatal attraction towards the action genre?
JCW: To be honest, I didn’t think that it would be an action drama. I chose this project because I thought the relationships between the characters would be interesting. I didn’t know that the action portion would be so huge. That’s why I do feel some regrets about some parts but I had fun filming it.
JLOOK: Now, compared to anyone else, you must feel confident about acting in the action genre.
JCW: No matter what, I’ve become accustomed to the action genre and also gotten the knack of it. I do wonder if I can do even better compared to now if I do action again. But for the time being, rather than action, I would like to try other kinds of acting. I still have a lot I’m curious about. I want to try many different genres.
JLOOK: Since you acted as the younger brother In Ha who was jealous of his older brother in ‘Five Fingers’, actor Ji Chang Wook has been different from the rest. You also left an impression when you played the role of Tahwan in ‘Empress Ki’ whose character changed as people sowed discord. It almost seems like you shine even more when portraying characters who are flawed.
JCW: Actually, I like stories about people who have flaws. Of course, I also have flaws so when I first look at a character I look out for their flaws or complex. Honestly it’s not so interesting to show what the character is good at. What is this person not good at; what complex caused this person to become like that; that’s where I start from.
JLOOK: Ji Chang Wook also has a complex?
JCW: Not any morbid complex, but just parts of myself that I find lacking. For example, when I compare myself with other actors and find myself lacking in some aspects. But I try to not let the complex worsen by thinking that I have something else. Otherwise I would be too tired and sensitive. I just have to be better at other parts in order to hide those complexes. I’m also thinking carefully over what is something that’s my own and unique to me.
JLOOK: What kind of actor are you at the film site?
JCW: I make a lot of jokes. It’s because the place I feel most comfortable at is the film site but also because filming itself is really exhausting so I also do that to brighten up the atmosphere at the site. “If I have fun filming, the staff will be more relaxed too.” Because I have thoughts like that I try to make the film site more fun.
JLOOK: When you’re leaving your favourite film site or when you’re saying goodbye to a certain project, how do you prepare to say goodbye?
JCW: The emptiness I feel when leaving the site is as large as the passion I felt when I was in it. In the past I would drink. I didn’t know how to do it. At that time, once the project was over, I felt like a person who didn’t have anything. When I woke up in the mornings I didn’t have scripts to look over. Even when I went to work I didn’t see the people I wanted to see, so that was really confusing and made me feel lost. That’s why now, I’ll start thinking about what I want to do before the project ends. This time, I’m thinking of getting comic books and creating a small space in my house like a comic book store. I really love comic books. I also want to learn how to sing properly and also start working out again.
JLOOK: Does your hobby of reading comic books help your work in acting?
JCW: Anyone would laugh if they heard this but honestly, I get a lot of inspiration from comic books. As I read I can imagine and when I see the drawings, such as the expressions on the characters’ faces, I really get inspired.
JLOOK: We can see motorbikes on your SNS
JCW: It’s been over a year since I started riding motorbikes. I was obsessed with soccer because I needed to relieve stress but as work increased and as I got older, it became harder physically. I thought about what I could do besides soccer and that was riding bikes. I have a Vespa scooter and a Moto Guzzi bike and I go for rides often to get fresh air (T/N: relieve stress).
JLOOK: Have you ever gone on travels on a bike?
JCW: My friends and I rented bikes when we travelled in Italy and when we were filming in Spain (for The K2), I rented a small scooter and roamed around everywhere in Barcelona.
JLOOK: For some reason it feels like you’re in love. It must be your facial expression (T/N: meaning he looks that happy). Is it because through the drama you could experience a deep love?
JCW: I’m really glad when a melo scene appears while filming. I have a lot of ideas and together with my costar we’ll discuss a lot about how the scenes should appear. Since I can’t date in real life, it’s really fun to imagine it and express it through dramas. If my face looks like I’m in love it’s because I’m actually in a really good mood today. I’m so happy that the drama filming is over!
JLOOK: You’ve had incredible growth as an actor over the last few years. You’re now at the top level in terms of (salary) guarantees and you’re also incredibly popular in China. What’s your driving force?
JCW: There have been times when I just wanted to give up on everything and every time that happens, the thing that keeps me going and helps me to not give up would be different each time. Sometimes it would be my pride, sometimes it would be my Mom who is alone at home and sometimes it would be the thought of my friends experiencing difficult times at work; these help to get my head back in the game. I’m thankful that there have always been these reasons that kept me from giving up when I wanted to.
JLOOK: Though you have a lot now, as you rise to a more respected position in the future, what would you like to do?
JCW: There’s nothing in particular that I want to do now but basically, I don’t want to do things that I don’t want to do. When I get there (T/N: in that position), I want to live happily and freely doing the things I want to do. Although I think I already live freely enough right now, even so, a little bit more than this.
Translation: @teappani/twitter [ PLEASE CREDIT & LINK BACK TO TWITTER WHEN REPOSTING]