Veteran finds joy in playing smaller roles: As Park Hee-soon ages, he hopes to take on a wider variety of roles

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Veteran finds joy in playing smaller roles: As Park Hee-soon ages, he hopes to take on a wider variety of roles


Actor Park Hee-soon talks about the thrill of winning a Baeksang Arts Award in the 28th year of his career. [PARK SE-WAN]

Park Hee-soon, who debuted in 1990 with a role in the play “Why Did Shimcheong Plunge into the Sea Twice?,” celebrated his 28th year as a professional actor with a trophy from the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards.

Park won Best Supporting Actor at this year’s award show - his first award in nearly 10 years. “I never expected or even imagined an award from Baeksang,” said Park. He continued, “I kept asking, ‘Is it really me?’”

The actor received the award for his portrayal of the villain in the film “1987,” which premiered last December. The movie is set when the country’s democracy was beginning to take shape, including the uprising June Democratic Movement, which led to the end of the military rule of leaders Park Chung hee and Chun Doo hwan.

Park was grateful to be a part of such a meaningful film, saying, “I felt both thankful and guilty to the people who risked their lives for democracy. Part of the reason why I joined this film was to repay them [somehow],”

He added, “In the case of ‘1987,’ my part was small, and there were many actors who gave great performances. I was surprised to even be a nominee. I will treasure [this award].”

The actor appeared in five different movies in 2017 alone and has four movies set to hit theaters this year. Park sat for an interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, to discuss taking on minor roles in films, acting and possibly appearing in TV shows.

The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

Q. You won the Best Supporting Actor at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards. How did you feel when you received the award?

. It was an award I haven’t received in a long time, so I was nervous. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it at all when my name was being called. I was caught by surprise, which made me more grateful. I thought to myself, if maybe, just maybe, I received the award, I’ll say something humorous. (laughs)

Your name has come up on the cast list of the upcoming films “The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion” and “Monstrum.” It looks like you’re still keeping busy.

If you add up all my parts from the two movies, it will make one film. (laughs) I don’t have many lines in “The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion.” [In the movie,] there are three rookie actors, and they appear a lot throughout the film. The director told me, “I have a project, but I’m not sure.” I told him, “Why? Why? Hurry up and show me!” But beyond how few lines I had, I really liked this film. That is why I decided to join.

Is there a reason why you work on so many projects at once?

Being at a position where I’ve played many main roles, I have fewer options of projects to choose from. I want to be part of a great film, but now I have fewer opportunities to work with my favorite directors, actors or staff. [Taking on many minor roles] began when I made a cameo appearance in the film “The Age of Shadows.” Directors began to think “Park takes on minor roles too,” and close director friends of mine offered me roles asking, “Even if it’s a small part, can you do it?” I have been happy to take on these roles. I don’t have any pressure having a small part in the film. When I was playing the main role, I would give my all into the movies. The projects were like my children. But I had a heavy heart. When some films would fail to succeed, it would take me a while before I could get back on my feet again. That is why I began to think it will be good for me to work on many great projects, no matter how small the role.

People commented that they felt you had a new acting style in “1987.” How did that feel?

I think it’s a problem of “Why are you doing so many of the same kind of movies, why are you doing so many of the same kinds of characters?” Because the characters are similar, my acting is inevitably similar. Also, most of my characters have had lines that were more literary than colloquial. I want to act comfortably too. I had no choice because when I started taking on such roles, to other people, it seemed like I had a certain style in acting. In “1987,” I wasn’t trying to act a different way. I was just playing the role of my character in the film.

Do you not like having a fixed character?

I really hate that. As an actor, I don’t want to do something that I don’t like. That is why I chose many different projects, but the premiere date of the films isn’t something I can choose. It also kind of looks like my acting is similar because the movies are being released around the same time.

Do you have any regrets not working on any comedies?

I’m seriously considering it. I’m thinking of doing variety shows. Maybe if I appear on TV shows, I can mitigate my strong image and get offered different roles.

What do you consider important when choosing a project to work on?

Before, I was very selective, but nowadays, I’ve learned to be more open. In the past, I looked at the character I would play more than the film itself. But now, it’s the opposite. I look at the project first. I now have more greed in being part of a good film.

When was a hard time for you as an actor?

I think it was almost always hard. When I was young, I was excited to be acting. The filming location was the most fun. There was no other playground like it. But as time passed, acting became harder, more exhausting and straining. It was because I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. I thought I would become more comfortable with acting, the more I aged, but instead, it’s harder.


박희순 "9년만에 백상 수상, 아내 박예진 펑펑 울었죠"

무려 9년만에 수상내역이 업데이트 됐다. 제54회 백상예술대상 영화부문 남자조연상에 빛나는 박희순(48)은 30대의 마지막과 40대의 마지막을 트로피로 채우며 반짝반짝 빛나는 유종의 미를 거두고 있다. "백상은 진짜 예상도, 상상도 못했어요. 계속 '나 맞아?' 했다니까요.(웃음) 시상식 끝나고 아내 박예진과 통화를 했는데 울었대요. 유머코드가 굉장히 잘 맞는 친구인데 울먹거리니까 저도 울컥 하더라고요." '1987' 박희순의 이름이 각인 된 트로피를 바라보는 박희순의 눈빛과 미소는 트로피를 건넨 이들에게도 꽤 깊은 감동으로 다가왔다. 2008년 '세븐데이즈'로 남우조연상을 휩쓴 후 박희순은 '그 잘난' 연기에도 매 해 수상과는 거리가 멀었다. "그게 처음이자 마지막이었죠. 그 때도 백상은 못 받았어요. 하하. 주연급이 되면서 상 욕심은 더욱 버렸고요. 대부분 3~4명이 돌아가면서 받잖아요?(웃음) 진짜 고맙게 간직할게요."

- 올해 백상 영화부문 남우조연상 주인공이 됐어요. 수상 당시 어떤 기분이었나요.
"오랜만에 받은 상이라 긴장됐어요. 사실 기대를 하지 않았는데 이름이 불렸거든요. 예상도, 상상도 못했어요. 당황스러웠고, 그래서 더 기뻤죠. 아주 정말 만약 받게 된다면 '좀 재미있게 말해보자'는 생각을 했어요.

-'1987'이라 더 남달랐던 상이었을 것 같아요.
"광장에서 민주화를 위해 희생하셨던 분들에 대해 고마움과 죄책감이 있었어요. 보답하고자 이 작품에 출연한 이유도 있으니까. 의미 있는 작품으로 받게 돼 더 감사했죠. 사실 주연급이 되면서 상은 더욱 생각도 안하게 됐거든요. 몇 명이 돌아가면서 받잖아. 으하하하. 너무 대단한 배우 분들이 많이 계시니까 매 작품마다 '열심히 하자'는 마음만 먹었지 '상'이란건 어느 순간부터 아예 꿈꾸지도 않게 된 것 같아요. '1987' 같은 경우는 분량도 적었고, 다른 많은 배우가 훌륭한 연기를 했잖아요. 솔직히 후보에 오른 것만 해도 놀라웠어요. 진짜 소중히 간직할게요."

-개봉을 앞둔 '마녀'와 '물괴' 출연진 명단에서도 이름이 보이더라고요.
"그 분량을 다 합쳐도 이제 한 작품 정도 되는 거예요.(웃음) '마녀'에서도 분량이 많지 않아요. 신인 여자 배우 3인방이 있는데, 그들이 많이 나와요. 저는 얼굴마담 격이에요. 박훈정 감독이 저에게 '작품이 있는데요. 고민 중이에요'라고 하는 거예요. '왜? 왜? 빨리 보여줘요!'라고 했죠.
-다작하는 이유가 있나요.
"분량으로 따지면 한, 두 작품이에요.(웃음) 그 정도로 조금씩 나와요. 주연급이 되다 보니 작품을 고를 수 있는 폭이 좁아지더라고요. 좋은 작품에 참여하고 싶은데, 좋아하는 감독이나 배우, 스태프들과 함께할 수 있는 기회가 줄어들었어요. 그런 상황이 되니 '적은 분량이라도 함께 하는 것은 어떨까'라는 생각이 들었죠. '밀정'에 특별출연한 것에서부터 시작된 것 같아요. '박희순이 작은 역도 하는구나'라는 인식이 생기고, 우연히 친한 감독들이 '작은 역할이라도 할 수 있겠니'라고 제안해줘서 기쁜 마음으로 참여하고 있어요. 비중에 대한 부담감은 전혀 없어요. 주연으로 출연했던 영화들은 모든 것을 쏟아부어요. 제 자식 같은 작품이에요. 그런데 마음은 힘들어요. 몇 작품 흥행에 실패하면 마음을 추스르는 데에 시간이 걸리더라고요. 그래서 작은 역할이라도 좋은 작품을 다작하는 게 좋겠다는 생각이 들었어요."

-'1987'로 새로운 연기 스타일을 보여줬다는 평을 받아요.
"'왜 또 그런 스타일의 영화를 많이 하느냐, 왜 또 그런 스타일의 캐릭터를 많이 하느냐'의 문제인 것 같아요. 캐릭터가 비슷하다 보니 비슷한 연기가 나올 수밖에 없어요. 게다가 구어체가 아니라 문어체 대사의 캐릭터를 많이 맡았어요. 저도 편하게 연기하고 싶어요. 어쩔 수 없이 그런 역할을 연기하다 보니 다른 이들의 눈에는 스타일이라는 것이 생긴 것처럼 보일 수도 있죠. 그런데 '1987'은 다르게 연기하려고 한 게 아니라 작품과 역할에 맡게 연기하려고 한 것이에요."

-캐릭터가 고정되는 것을 싫어하는 것 같네요.
"진짜 싫어요. 배우로서 저 자신이 싫은 건 하기 싫어요. 그래서 작품을 다양하게 골라서 하노라고 했는데, 개봉 시기는 제가 정할 수 있는 게 아니니까요. 몰려서 개봉하니 비슷한 연기를 하는 것처럼 보이기도 하고요."

-코믹 연기에 대해 아쉬움은 없나요.
"심각하게 고민하고 있어요. 예능을 한 번 해볼까 하고요. 예능에 출연해서 센 이미지가 희석될 수 있으면 다른 역할도 들어오지 않을까 하고요."

-작품 선택할 때 가장 중요하게 생각하는 것이 있나요.
"옛날에는 가리는 것이 많았는데, 요즘엔 열어놓게 됐어요. 예를 들면, 과거엔 작품보다 캐릭터를 더 많이 봤어요. 그런데 이제는 거꾸로죠. 작품을 먼저 봐요. 좋은 작품에 출연하고픈 욕심이 더 생겼어요."

-배우 활동하며 가장 힘들었던 시기는 언젠가요.
"거의 다 힘들었던 것 같아요. 어릴 때는 정말 신나서 연기했어요. 현장이 제일 신났어요. 이런 놀이터가 없는 거죠. 그런데 가면 갈수록 어렵고 힘들고 긴장돼요. 민폐 끼치지 말아야겠다는 생각이 드니까요. 나이 먹으면 오히려 편하게 연기할 수 있을 거로 생각했는데 오히려 더 힘들어요."

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