130227 Ha Jung Woo’s self-interview
A completed translation of Naver Entertainment’s Star Column, featuring Ha Jung Woo~
Text by Ha Jung Woo
Edited by Issue Daily chief editor Hwang Yong Hee firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs by Issue Daily, still cuts from Ha Jung Woo’s movies
~ Editor’s Intro ~
“Actor Ha” – Ha Jung Woo! This actor never rests, from early days when nobody recognized him till today as Chungmuro’s representative actor. Never restricting himself to any particular genre, he doesn’t accept roles that are similar to a previous role. He appears as a different personality in every work, portraying a different soul in every character, attempting 180-degree transformations with every opportunity.
Wearing his new identities with familiar ease, his acting skills are not an innate gift, but rather the result of endless research and hard work. Ha Jung Woo is always focused on this question – “How should I improve upon my acting?” When asked how he wants to be described, he only wants to be “Actor Ha” (“Ha baewoo“). Let’s see what he has to say about his works and acting. //Chief Editor
“Hi, this is Ha Jung Woo! After Part 1 of the self-interview, I’m back with Part 2. Here I’ll be talking about my works, and about acting. Although there are many parts of the interview that I should elaborate, I shall just write according to my most direct thoughts.”
◆ “The Berlin File” – where nothing was easy
Seeing how my latest work “The Berlin File” is receiving rave reviews, I spend each and every day in a pretty good mood.
Of course, in a way, I guess the good response was due to the fact that it was an action film that many had awaited with high expectations. The results we are getting now is not a surprise, and we can confidently recognize the film “is a success”.
This is the first time I’m trying out a genre like “The Berlin File”, that’s why it gives me much confused and mixed feelings. As the lead actor of an action movie, I embarked on this filming with the main objective of convincing the audience. That’s why although I hated wire action scenes, I grit my teeth and went for it.
Although there were times of suffering, I’m thankful I’ve overcome it, to be able to become an action actor that is accepted by the audience. I think this will be one of my unforgettable works. Hopefully it will continue to grow in popularity ^^
(above) action highlights of The Berlin File
(below) production interviews
Click here for the official trailer (subbed)
◆ “The Unforgiven” – where I learnt a lot
Acting did not come to me naturally. “Rigorous training” and “tortuous pain”, “hurt” – within these, that’s where acting emerges, don’t you think so? The most fundamental aspect of acting is to “relax”, but even towards the act of relaxation, I have done a lot of research for this. Relaxation depends a lot on the mind. In a way, I seem to always be in conflict with relaxation. I research about how I can use my body as a means to achieve my goal of relaxation, as accurately as possible. I spent a lot of effort researching on this.
Even now I don’t think I grasp 100% of what relaxation is about. But while researching about it, I realized that “it’s not possible to achieve 100%, forever.” There are always very vast differences between each work, between each character, thus it is very limiting if you attempt to reuse the same feelings and experiences accumulated in a previous work onto a new work. But if referring just to the topic of achieving “precise relaxation”, it is easy to single out works that were decisive turning points for me.
I performed in a few theatrical works as well. While performing a historical drama called “Age of No Man” continuously for 6 months, I looked at my seniors’ acting performances and thought, “Ah~ So that’s what acting is about.” It was a moment of realization for me.
The movie where I remembered the realization through the expression of my body, is “The Unforgiven”. Through this work, I learnt a lot about acting in front of a camera.
All that was made possible because the film was a student work that took 1 year to shoot. It wasn’t subject to others’ criticisms, time constraints, it was shot with a lot of freedom. We could even do 50 takes for a single scene. Thus, I could look at my own acting from the monitor. I learnt, “Ah~ That’s how acting is done within a camera frame.” I think somehow, I was inspired ever since that work, which gave me the determination to do what I’m doing now. It taught me how I can improve my acting, how I can utilize my body in an even more relaxed state, that kind of thing.
Note: The hapless private on the right is Yoon Jong Bin, who not only starred, but directed The Unforgiven (2005) as his graduation project. He continues his partnership with classmate Ha Jung Woo by directing Beastie Boys (2007), War with Crime (2011), and the upcoming Kundo (2013)~
◆ My “Food Channel” – a hot topic nowadays
The fun, or even the thrill, of watching someone in the act of eating, this hot topic was created by the public. To me, an eating scene is just a part of my acting. To eat something deliciously, to portray the act of eating something deliciously, having these thoughts are dangerous. In the same line of thinking, to do that is equivalent to consciously wanting to look pretty, to look cool. When you do that, the acting becomes unnatural. Eating isn’t a conscious act.
However, these days many people are talking about it … how should I put it, it’s rather unsettling. In my future works, I will have to think hard about how I’m going to present my eating scenes.
and … his latest beverage channel (feat. The Terror Live)
◆ “The Terror Live”, “Kundo”, “Rollercoaster” – there’s still a long way to go
It is a heavy burden, to be called a “current trend” (“daesae“) Anyone will feel the same. Being a current trend, also carries the implication that “in time, this trend will pass and not be current anymore”.
That’s why everytime I hear people saying that, I will think to myself, “I’m not~” I still have more to learn, more grinding to go through, but when I’m called “current trend” it’s as if I have reached my max… Although I know that it is a compliment, a well-meaning nickname tagged onto me, but everytime I hear that it sobers me up,
I just like being called “Actor Ha” (“Ha baewoo“).
I’m often asked how fast I can return back to reality after I wrapped up filming. But I’m not the kind who is greatly affected by my acting. Before I decide on accepting a filming offer, I’ve already made plans. It’s like how one sows his seeds early, one does not only sow one type of seed. I would question, is it really good to only sow one type of seed? You’ve got to sow a variety of seeds, and later according to the timing, when I finished “The Berlin File” I will begin filming “The Terror Live”, and after that’s done, I will film “Kundo” and so forth. This is all planned ahead. If I’ve thought through all of this, it would not be stressful later. I always bear this in mind.
“The Terror Live”, whose filming has wrapped up, is a movie similar to “Phone Booth”. Similar to “127 Hours” too. It’s a work about the struggle for survival when an individual is trapped within a limited space with both hands and feet tied up.
A TV announcer, who was demoted to host a morning program in a radio station, was trying to connect a call with a listener, when he encounters terrorists. That’s how the movie begins. In a bid to return back to the broadcasting station after his demotion, the announcer contacted the station and does live news reporting. The movie explores how he becomes entrapped in this situation.
To me, there’s no such thing as an easy film. But from the perspective of the audience, “The Berlin File”, and the upcoming “The Terror Live” seem to be difficult films. On the other hand, “Love Fiction” is considered an easy film. Also, they will consider the comical “Kundo” as an easy film too.
Like acting, I started painting because I loved movies. And that’s how I became a director too. That’s how “Rollercoaster” began. This movie is based on the real experience that (Ryu) Seung Bum went through last summer when Typhoon Bolaven struck. The lead actor is a friend called Jung Kyung Ho. This is his first comback role after being discharged from the military.
In my opinion, he has a very fervent passion and attitude towards acting, on what he perceives to be qualities of an actor, very different from the rest. Naturally, I knew him when I was young, thus I do not doubt him, but through this filming, I realized that Jung Kyung Ho has been too underrated. Through “Rollercoaster”, I have expectations that this work will somehow enable Kyung Ho’s acting abilities to shine.
And this is what I have to say about my thoughts on acting. Although unfortunately I can’t talk about all my works, I will do so in the future. In the final Part 3, I will talk not about myself as an actor, but me, Kim Sung Hoon, as a person, as well as what I hope to be 10 years later. Stay tuned! I thank you sincerely for your unwavering support. Love ya~
edit: Actor Ha’s notebook, shown on Healing Camp, Sept 3 2012
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