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Rom-com king takes on serious role

As star of ‘A Man and a Woman,’ actor Gong Yoo shows off real emotions

Feb 25,2016
Actor Gong Yoo
Actor Gong Yoo, 37, made a name for himself with romantic comedies. His signature smile and classy looks are said to have made him one of the most sought-after actors among romance film directors.

But in his heart, Gong said he wanted to play a part that lets him show his deepest emotions.

“Of course I still enjoy lovey dovey love stories, but I always wanted to act out deeper emotions of love,” Gong said. “I am now in my late 30s, and I want to see how I look in an authentically melodramatic film.”

He has finally achieved his longtime wish of starring in a serious melodrama by appearing in “A Man and a Woman,” which hits theaters today. [STUDIO 706]
That is why Gong picked “A Man and a Woman,” directed by Lee Yoon-ki, as his first film for this year.

“This one,” Gong said, “is an adults’ love story. That’s why I picked it.”

Two married strangers meet in the snowy country of Finland and spend an unforgettable night together after getting marooned due to a sudden blizzard. This accidental encounter becomes a relationship, and the relationship turns into profound affection. A film depicting such a forbidden love affair, of course, includes a number of bedroom scenes that some actors and actresses would hesitate to take on. But for Gong, it wasn’t an issue.

“If that troubled me, I wouldn’t even have considered such a genre in the first place,” he said. “I think other people around me were more concerned about it than I was.”

“Of course, such a setting or storyline can make some people feel repulsed. But I sympathized with this love story,” he continued. “These people have been living a dull life with continuous sorrows and distress. Then, they meet someone who is in a similar situation, who shares similar feelings. That’s when they realize their loneliness and their sorrow. I pity them.”

Another reason Gong picked this film was veteran actress Jeon Do-yeon, who plays the female protagonist.

He explained that during the shooting, Jeon was rather quiet, but when she casually said, “That line was good, that part when you just talked to me. It was good,” Gong says he let out a big sigh of relief.

“Only then was I able to be assured that I was doing it right,” he said. “I could feel that I was getting inspired by her acting as we were acting together. As I felt my acting was getting better next to her, I felt like I was going into ecstasy. Thanks to a great partner, you can exhibit better acting yourself.”

Actor Gong Yoo has often portrayed the male protagonist in romantic comedies after making an impression in the 2007 drama series “The First Shop of Coffee Prince.”
Gong said he will be more than happy to hear from people that he did a good job after they have watched the film, but truthfully, he said he’ll be satisfied even if they remark that his acting has gotten better thanks to Jeon and the film.

“A Man and a Woman” opens in theaters today.

“I finally feel like I’ve quenched my thirst through this film,” Gong said.

He said he has long been hoping to do this kind of film, adding that the label “romantic comedy expert” has been following him around ever since he appeared in the television series “The First Shop of Coffee Prince” (2007), where he first made his mark.

“I used to feel obsessed that I have to quickly pick a work that can show what I really like and what I really want to do,” he said. “Now, I feel a bit free from such thoughts. From now on, I will continue to focus on selecting works that I want to do.”

Just this year, three of Gong’s films will be released, starting with “A Man and a Woman.” In the summer, a zombie thriller titled “Busan Bound,” directed by Yeon Sang-ho, is scheduled to be released, along with “Secret Agent,” which deals with betrayal and conspiracies in the independence movement during Japanese colonial rule. The film, directed by Kim Jee-woon, is set to hit theaters shortly after “Busan Bound.”

In “Busan Bound,” Gong appears as a fund manager and father named Seok-woo, who desperately runs for his life with his daughter, while in “Secret Agent,” he appears as Kim Woo-jin, the leader of an independence movement group who gets into a psychological battle with Lee Jeong-chul, a Japanese secret agent played by veteran actor Song Kang-ho.

“It’s my first time appearing in three films in one year,” Gong said. “It feels like getting my homework checked all at once. I feel pressure, too, but I am at a moment when I miss people’s responses - any responses, whether they’re good or bad.”

Gong finished shooting “Busan Bound” while he was in the middle of filming “Secret Agent.”

“All I’m doing at the moment is trying to survive in between two big names in the Korean film industry - veteran director Kim Jee-woon and veteran actor Song Kang-ho,” Gong said, chuckling.

BY LEE EUN-SUN [sharon@joongang.co.kr]


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