Kim Tae-ri insists on excelling when it comes to her roles
“I loved [the scene] when Hee-do just burst into tears when the comic book got torn.”
Actor Kim Tae-ri cited this as her favorite scene in tvN drama series “Twenty Five Twenty One” at an online press interview with the JoongAng Ilbo last week.
Kim portrayed the protagonist Na Hee-do in the series.
The scene is from Episode 1 when Hee-do tries to hand-draw a page from a borrowed comic book that her mother has torn, but is discovered by the part-time worker Baek Yi-jin at the rental store.
“Twenty Five Twenty One” ended on Sunday with a viewership rating of 11.5 percent, the highest recorded since the series started airing.
“I was so swept into the story from the very beginning when we started practicing our lines,” Kim said. “[In certain scenes] I was so excited because I thought I could do this well!”
When queried about how the 31-year-old actor felt playing a bright, animated and youthful 18-year-old, she laughed and admitted, “I did feel pressured to take care of my skin."
Despite the age difference between Kim and her character, audiences agreed that “Kim Tae-ri is Na Hee-do.”
“Hee-do and I had a lot in common, so I could totally understand the actions and the words that she would do and say,” Kim said. “I acted on instinct more than anything else. It was very intriguing to act involuntarily without putting too much thought into the character. However, as Hee-do tackles events in her life and gradually undergoes change, there came a point when it was difficult to act only on instinct. I learned why it was necessary [for an actor] to analyze their character.”
Kim also elaborated on how she and Hee-do were different.
“Hee-do has no dramatic ups and downs,” she said. “It’s the opposite for me, so in that sense I’m unhealthier than Hee-do. That’s how much self-esteem Hee-do has and a healthy mindset [...] Because she’s always so high-spirited, as the time went by I had to squeeze out the energy to act.”
The actor admitted that it was difficult to act out the scenes where Hee-do confesses her feelings to Yi-jin without any embarrassment.
“I'm not the type of person to say such things, so it became difficult after Hee-do begins to become aware of her feelings toward Yi-jin.”
One of the highlights of the series was the fencing battles between Hee-do and fencing star Go Yoo-rim (played by Kim Ji-yeon).
“I wanted to perform them well,” Kim said. “I wanted people to remember this series not only as a youth-centered drama but a fencing drama as well. I think I was more sensitive about those scenes and demanded a lot more from the director so we’re not missing out the details.”
The actor is said to have learned fencing for six months before filming began and “almost” went through all the fencing-related videos on YouTube. Kim requested that an expert be on the set whenever there was a fencing scene.
“I didn’t set any limits,” she said. “I pushed myself more than I thought I was capable of and didn’t try to back down.”
As for the character of the fencing coach and Hee-do’s mentor Yang Chan-mi, portrayed by actor Kim Hye-eun, Kim had nothing but compliments for her.
“A sports legend who once dominated the era is now nurturing new talent, and even though she may not always be so kind, she can be warm when needed,” Kim said. “Kim Hye-eun really brought out the coach’s best qualities in her performance.”
While it was mostly well-received, the ending of “Twenty Five Twenty One” left fans disappointed.
“Because people were so earnestly rooting for Hee-do and Yi-jin to work out they were of course disappointed by the ending,” she said. “I was sad as well. Like Hee-do’s daughter Kim Min-chae, I also cried out, ‘The two of you should be married! Why aren’t you married?’ (laughs).”
Kim singled out the lack of clichés as the most unique element of the story.
“It was like all the characters came out of a comic book — they do and say things that no one could expect, so it’s hard to anticipate what they will do next,” she said. “I am proud that everyone seemed to have gotten rewarded for their hard work due to high ratings [...] There were a multitude of worries and stress I received as I worked to bring Hee-do to life but I never want to forget them. [In fact], I was grateful to deal with all of these moments. I will remember them when I work on my next project, and I believe they will also help me live my life as well.”
BY NAM SOO-HYOUN [email@example.com]