Yeo Jin-goo is certain that any attention is good attention
Actor Yeo Jin-goo decided to show off his charismatic side in the recently ended JTBC drama “Beyond Evil,” taking a step away from the romantic side which he usually shows such as in 2012 drama “Moon Embracing the Sun.”
The actor took on one of the leading roles alongside another veteran actor Shin Ha-kyun. He played hygiene obsessed policeman Han Ju-won, who ends up having to arrest his own father. In the beginning of the drama, Han meticulously researches everything he encounters, but later episodes focus on the struggle he encounters while trying to decide between protecting his family and pursuing justice. His mental turmoil is agonizing and he shows extreme emotions.
“I was very happy that I was able to show a new side,” said Yeo during an interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.
“I was happy to hear people tell me that they got to see something they had never seen in me before, and I really felt relieved.”
The actor shared his experience working on the drama, and what plans he has for the future. Below are edited excerpts.
Q. Is there anything in particular that you look for when you are choosing what work to take on?
A. I check how different the character I am supposed to play is from the real me. Han was a character that has different characteristics than me and a different life. I kept on thinking about how I should express such traits, and there so many ideas popped into my head. The character really inspired me to act.
What appealed to you about the drama?
It had somewhat different viewpoints to tell its stories and messages when compared to other thriller dramas. It, of course, took cases happening in the drama seriously, but really focused on the emotions of each and every character and embraced them. I wanted to be part of the drama as soon as I read the script.
How did you feel playing Han?
As I focus more on acting, I feel like my true self is being separated from the roles I’m playing. What this means is, if I fall more for the role, I actually gain more power to freely hop from the character to myself. I think all the actors who I worked with were the same. We were mischievous on the set but as soon as the camera started to roll, we got right into our characters.
How was it working with actor Shin Ha-kyun?
He really joked a lot and made me laugh. I’m not sure if I should use such expression to describe a senior actor, but he was really cute (laughs). I felt like he was trying to respect what I was doing while we were rehearsing together. He was ready to accept the version of Han that I came prepared with. That led us to have more real-life compatibility.
What did you think about your character Han arresting his father to protect justice?
I did talk a lot with the writer and the director about whether the character I had built is someone who can push forward with his belief when he faces the real truth. Is he a person who can abandon the father-son relationship? But at one point on the set, the idea just hit me that Han can do it.
Have you ever thought of yourself as someone monstrous?
Since I also have a desire to get what I want, maybe there are moments when I turn into a monster without even realizing. I have not become a monster by violating the law, so maybe I should ask people around me if I ever have turned into one before (laughs). Life itself is a competition. And I think when people use others to get ahead in that competition or exploit others but remain righteous, that is when people are monstrous. It happens when people lose their humane side. So I always remind myself that I should be thankful for things.
You have confessed that you felt lost when it came to acting before you did the 2019 tvN drama “The Crowned Clown.” Tell us more about why you felt that.
I became an actor because I found acting fun, not because I wanted to be famous. Then, because many people were paying attention to me, I felt the need to do even better. Yet, somehow I had a change of heart and didn’t know how to act at all. I felt like I was trapped in a box. Things got even more difficult. But as I was filming for the drama, the director and other senior actors really helped me much. I got feedback on how I play my characters in detail, so I prepared much before filming. I was so thankful that they trusted me even when I had doubts about myself. That’s the point when I realized that I have to be certain about my acting. And the one drama I did with more certainty than ever was “Beyond Evil.”
What are the things you are most interested in?
I grow herbs at home. I also am thinking about learning how to play the guitar or the piano. I want to learn some more stuff.
What pushes you to get inspired to act?
The attention people give me is the power that pushes me to act. Even criticism is a form of attention. I’m thankful that people are watching me.
Have you decided which role you are going to play next? People seem to be waiting to see you in a romantic role again.
I think I need to write that down and say look for melodramatic Yeo Jin-goo (laughs). I’m reading through the scripts that have been offered to me, but I have not decided anything at the moment. I will come back soon.
BY HWANG SO-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]