Yoo Ah-in talks about what makes him feel alive ahead of '#Alive' premiere
You're without Wi-Fi or internet and have absolutely no other means of communicating with the rest of the world while trapped inside your own home, alone, during a massive epidemic.
What would you do?
While this hypothetical situation may have seemed completely unrealistic at the beginning of this year, after the outbreak of the coronavirus, its not so hard to imagine.
The upcoming film “#Alive,” which premieres on Wednesday, aims to answer this question with the portrayal or a character called Joon-woo, an ordinary young man struggling to find a way out of a mysterious plague that transforms people into a zombie-like state.
Joon-woo, who is played by Yoo Ah-in, responds to suddenly being trapped in his own home, shielding from the outside world that is brimming with zombie-like infectees, as any other boy in his 20s would do: he panics, cries, is unorganized and spontaneous without any thought-out plan on how to stay alive.
His latest role comes after a series of iconic characters including the tragic Crown Prince Sado in “The Throne” (2015), mentally-unstable Cho Tae-oh in “Veteran” (2015), and lovestruck Seon-jae in JTBC drama series “Secret Affair” (2014).
“How I look at roles and scripts has changed over the last past five years,” the actor said during an interview with the press last week at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul. “Well, actually how I chose my roles was always a bit random, but I cut myself a little more slack — so what if I don’t get to play a big part [in a film] or if my characters lack charisma? Or they’re not as cute or not as attractive? Now, I’m able to make my decisions [about my role] in a more laid-back manner.”
From how he was drawn to “#Alive” to bigger questions such as what does “being alive” mean to him, the actor answered honestly without any hesitation. The following are edited excerpts of the interview.
It is meaningful because I got to talk about life. Although we didn’t intend for it, the film’s situation somehow overlaps with the current pandemic, and in this era where people are isolated and cut off [from each other], the film offers them the chance to think about what surviving means, what life is, what does it mean to co-exist together.
The thought just naturally came to me that it was okay to portray characters that were less powerful, more comfortable, less charismatic or who's presence was felt less on screen. I’ve depicted multiple layers of humanity through “Punch” (2011), “Tough as Iron” (2013), “Secret Affair,” “The Throne” and “Veteran,” and I’ve received so much love and attention from the public through my two or three iconic roles. But I thought Joon-woo gave me a chance to break the image people have of me.
Especially for “#Alive,” I wanted to interact more comfortably and frequently with the audience.
I think before I had this obsession that actors should stay away from variety shows. It didn’t feel right to reveal so much of my life to the public. But now I feel that’s old-fashioned, especially in this era and age [where communication is key]. I felt that I could excel in both areas, and that sets a new precedent.
Nowadays, I don’t think I am as besotted as before, but I’m still fearful that I won’t be up for a challenge when the opportunity arises. When I was younger I defined myself by taking head on whatever hardships came my way, but now — I don’t know, maybe its because of age? — I feel that I’ve grown wary, calculating my priorities before I take on a challenge. But I don’t think I’ve changed fundamentally. By lowering my prior standards, I think I’m living more randomly, like my stream of thoughts, but I’ve become more comfortable and free because I’m no longer confined to those conditions anymore.
The moments when I feel most alive are when I’m in love, whether it’s my mom, dad, friends, lover — no other emotion is powerful than that. [When I’m in love] it’s like I just really want to live rather than just feeling that I’m alive (laughs).
BY LEE JAE-LIM [email@example.com]
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