Korea’s got talented Paul Potts

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Korea’s got talented Paul Potts


Paul Potts

These days, Korea is flooded with audition programs, with tens of thousands of people competing to become the next star. And while there have been some dramatic successes, none was as surprising at what happened on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2007, when Paul Potts, who was then a mobile-phone salesperson, sang “Nessun Dorma,” the famous aria from Puccini’s “Turandot.”

Potts’s dramatic story captured the hearts of people in Korea, turning the British tenor into a star here, too.

And now, that story has been turned into a movie, “One Chance,” which debuted in local theaters on March 13, along with an autobiography that was released in Korea in February.

The film was directed by David Frankel, who is most famous for “The Devil Wears Prada,” and features actor James Corden as Potts.

Although his original life story has not been as humorous as the film depicts - Potts was an outcast as a child and was sexually abused when he was 15 - the singer said he wants as many people as possible to watch the film and realize that “miracles and success can happen to anybody.”

To learn more about his life story, the Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with Potts last week at the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, southwestern Seoul. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Q. From reading your autobiography, your real life story seems to be more dramatic and less humorous than the film. Were you all right with the way it was depicted in the film?

A. In fact, I asked them to make it a comedy, because I felt that if it was made into something like a documentary I don’t think it would reach many people. I don’t think it would have as much effect. I think, sometimes, it’s more useful to get people to feel things when they are laughing. It’s easier to get the message across when they are disarmed. And the message of the film is that life can throw many obstacles in your way and it’s up to you to keep going and you can do that by taking on the support from the people around you, while having a little bit of courage, a little bit of determination and perseverance. You just keep going until you reach where you want to be. If you keep going, eventually, one way or another, you’ll get there.

In the film, audiences are very moved by your wife. How does she support you?

Well, she hasn’t killed me yet, as much as she would love to sometimes. I am very disorganized and it sometimes frustrates her. When I was leaving home last Saturday, I left the house at eight in the morning to drive to London to catch the plane. But I packed at six that morning. And that’s how I pack and that’s how I always do things. She’ll tell me days before that I need to get things ready but I leave it until the last minute, either the night before or just before I leave. Which means, then, I start running around trying to find things because that’s what happens when you do things the last minute. But she puts up with that - just.

We all know your life has been a dramatic one and it changed overnight. In your own words, how would you describe your life?

I’ve had many of life’s ups and downs over the years. I think a lot of people think of the bad things that happen to you as being completely negative. But I think that the things I went through as a child have helped me to not only become a fuller person but also helped me to deal with the happier times. Because when things changed in 2007, it was really quite drastic. It did change overnight.

To go through that experience, I had to be very adaptable. When I was being bullied and abused, I was forced to adapt, I had to change, I had to change how I did things and I had to try and change how I thought about myself. That was a challenge. But it forced me to live and trying to get through each day and get through the next day and then the next day.

That’s how I continue to do things. I live one day to the next, rather than trying to forecast what would happen, because when you are trying to do that, what you do is you create expectations. And those expectations weigh quite hard on your shoulders. You then try to live according to the expectations rather than trying to do the right thing for you. So it’s helped me to get a strong perception on myself and it’s helped me to get closer to the philosophy of life.

In Korea, there’s a craze for audition programs, although people are getting a bit jaded with the same format and the same stories. What do you think the role of these audition programs is?

In the end what gets made on TV depends what people want because a lot of it is driven by advertising. So if people aren’t watching it, the advertising isn’t there to support the programming. So, in the end, people will decide what they want to watch. Therefore TV programs do need to adapt and constantly adapt to give people the opportunity of watching either something different or something similar that’s been done in a different way.

I think we do have to be careful about the oversaturation of talent shows. But I do think there’s a place for them because I think they do give people the opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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