Ju Ji-hoon gambles on ‘Treacherous’
Apparently this was because the film was the work of director Min Kyu-dong, whom Ju had worked with in “Antique” back in 2008 when he was still a newcomer to the field. The film gave wings to the acting career of the 33-year-old, formerly a model.
Ju’s latest character is a conniving vassal named Lim Soong-jae living in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) who makes a puppet out of the tyrannical yet timid King Yonsan with his highly skilled flattery and smart scheming.
In a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, a Korea JoongAng Daily affiliate, Ju said he is the kind of a guy “who would jump into the fire for those who have faith in him” - his way of explaining why saying yes to “The Treacherous” wasn’t so hard.
However, he admitted that the shooting process was less than simple as it required many action scenes and some restrained acting.
Q. Why does your character, Lim Soong-jae, suck up to King Yonsan while making mockery of him at the same time?
A. Because Lim knows that if he went head-to-head with King Yonsan he wouldn’t be able to survive. It was human instinct for survival that led him to act that way. If he couldn’t confront the king, he might as well use the king’s desires for his own good.
But at the same time, Lim understands why King Yonsan became so tyrannical. How does that affect how Lim behaves?
Yes, Lim knows King Yonsan would never dare to be the ultimate evil, so he is just providing the right justification for King Yonsan to realize his desire. For example, to fulfill the king’s sexual hunger, he suggests establishing a new government body for the selected beauties in the country in the name of inheriting his royal blood. But at the same time he uses the newly erected government body to wipe out his political enemies.
Your character is a very manipulative person who is always hiding his true intentions. What was it like playing such a character?
It was hard. Even in scenes where Lim is hiding his intentions, the director wanted to somehow express them, using gestures or tone of voice. However, a lot of the time my lines were exactly at the opposite side of the character’s true intentions, which made it really stressful for me to figure out which side I should focus on.
It seems like you and director Min are pretty close with each other, given the fact that you did not hesitate to feature in his movie.
We have been friends since we shot “Antique.” For this film, Min gave me a lot of tough acting orders. When I said I couldn’t do something, he would come up to me and whisper to my ear that it is all for my own good and that he loves me. How could I say no to a person who is confessing his love? (Laughs) So I tried to follow his orders as much as I could, and if it worked out in the end, I felt really happy.
Is there a reason to why you frequently choose roles that have vague good or evil characteristics?
I’ve thought that there is no absolute right or wrong in a certain situation since I was very young. But it would be far-fetched to say that the selection of my characters is the result of such a belief.
What’s your latest concern?
When I have a different opinion from the director I don’t know how far I should stand up for my belief and how much I should listen. I think my age is that kind of age where you worry about such things.
BY JANG SUNG-RAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]