[ENTERTAINMENT]Between Naps, a Star Is BornThe scene was set, with a film crew all ready to go on a sunny March afternoon at Seoul's Gyeongbuk Palace: the queen and the 4-year-old prince and heir to the throne were to meet for the first time. The only line the child actor had to recite was "Your Highness, I have come to say my greetings." But Kwon Oh-min, after doing many rehearsals, could not help falling asleep as he bowed to the queen.
Surprisingly, the editors decided to use the drowsy scene, part of SBS's popular historical drama "Women Who Rule the World," and the nodding off act charmed viewing audiences.
Within days after that debut on TV, Oh-min's artless performance was the talk of the town. The tot is now the show's most popular figure, besting plenty of more experienced actors on the cast.
Oh-min will probably remain at the forefront of the forthcoming episodes as the crown prince, considering that the drama's director, Kim Jae-hyung, has taken the boy under his wing. Although there is a 60-year difference between the two, they have become best friends on the set, calling each other "big brother" and "little brother."
Kim, who is known for his no-nonsense directing and Spartan filming, goes soft when Oh-min is around. He always has a ready lap for the child to climb on.
The director also made the choice to use Oh-min in the role of the prince. At the boy's audition, Oh-min's mother just assumed that her son had failed when he came out of the audition room saying, "Mommy, I just ate my cookies." But besides having eaten his cookies, Oh-min did not forget to introduce himself and make a memorable impression. When the toddler boldly and clearly presented himself as "the 35th descendant of the An-dong Kwon family," the director knew right away that Oh-min was the boy for job. Later, when Oh-min started impeccably presenting his lines, Kim's initial hunch was confirmed.
Also to his credit, Oh-min was armed with some expressions that were particularly useful in winning the part. Among them was the archaic way of saying "You may be dismissed" to one's servants.
Invariably, Oh-min is the center of attention on the sets. His nose turns rosy as his voice rises and his baggy prince attire makes viewers chuckle. And he's so convincing when he expresses his love to his adoptive mother, Queen Munjeong (played by the actress Jeon In-hwa), that his biological mother says she starts to feel jealous.
The SBS historical drama is not Oh-min's first experience in front of the cameras. The boy also starred in the recent blockbuster movie "Hi, Dharma," playing a young monk. The TV and movie shooting schedules overlapped at times, forcing him to be shuttled between the drama's shoots in Seoul and the film's locations in the provinces. But he never complained about any inconvenience, his mother proudly said. During long afternoon shoots, Oh-min would be so involved in his acting that, while napping, he would even talk his lines in his sleep.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he blurted out, "I want to be a great actor! Acting is so much fun!" Hamming it up, he asked a photographer to take another good shot of him.
But a moment later he turned to his mother, just like any other 4-year-old would, and asked her if he could have some ice cream.
by Lee Sang-bok