10: It seems that you think a lot about how to live your life. Do you tend to think of your life as an actor and as a human being separately or are there no boundaries between the two for you?
Ryoo Seung-bum: I don’t draw a line between the two. And there are a lot of times that it’d good if they were separate from each other but the actor Ryoo Seung-beom and human Ryoo Seung-beom constantly affect each other. When there are things I need to think about after filming a movie, it should stay within the boundaries of my life as an actor but it spills over to who I am as a human. And it influences the choice I make for the project that’ll follow after it. I end up asking one question after another, endlessly. (laugh) I change through acting and my acting changes because of how I change. And it’s not like one is more important than the other. If I lived my life as a human being the way it is and my life as an actor as the way it is, I could be objective about both but I’m not good at it. That’s why I have a hard time with it as well as there being good things about it. The person that people see acting in front of the camera is me in my natural state so while that appeals to them, they sometimes become confused whether I’m just living my life or actually acting. And that confusion is what I’m about.
10: Did you have that many thoughts about acting when you first became an actor?
Ryoo: I wasn’t thinking anything in the beginning. I had actually never felt responsible about my work nor did I have any dreams regarding it. It was just a new world for me. What is this, what’s this person about. Isn’t this person famous? I was basically from the wilderness. (laugh) So think of how much of a daze I must’ve been in. I had just come down from the mountains. Everything just seemed strange and interesting to me. I thought about things like what is this new world about? Why did I suddenly become famous? Why do they come asking for my autograph? It was all weird. All I had ever been was a person from the back of the streets. (laugh)
10: Then what do you think of the new world you’ve been watching for a while now?
Ryoo: Here? It’s huge. There are angels, monsters, and it’s huge. It’s a huge world. To quote my senior actor Choi Min-shik, this is somewhere there are a lot of chivalrous fighters. And it doesn’t matter if they have swords or not, they can kill people, even if it may be with a single white radish.
10: And what sort of fighter would you say you are? Do you have a sword or a radish? (laugh)
Ryoo: I’m… sort of in between. (laugh) The type that’ll sit on the fence and then think of other people in a weird way. I have a tendency to be one of the outsiders while absorbing certain things very quickly as well. I’m just someone in that space in between. I guess I’m sort of a different type of living organism? (laugh)
10: Well I’m guessing you must have a standard of your own in terms of acting, not just for each project, which is a long fight you have to put up.
Ryoo: It’s different everytime. Sometimes it’ll be the trust I have in the director, the interest I have in the script or the intention the movie itself has. I’ll also think about my path as an actor. These are some of those things I think of. So think of how much this would tickle an actor like Denis Lavant. He’s so perfect. I mean, it’s not as if he’s that rich either. (laugh) It looks like he wouldn’t even be able to eat three meals a day and he doesn’t seem much happier than me. What is it that he’s so confident about that he can act like that? He’s amazing. So if an actor as great as him saw me, he’d think, ‘What are you doing? An actor should act.’ (laugh) But I would still be able to talk back and tell him ‘This is who I am. You’re you and I’m me.’
10: Well when you worked on film “No Manners” in 2002, you said, “I still think I’m in my youth in regards to my acting.” Where do you think you stand now? (laugh)
Ryoo: Maybe a handsome young man? (laugh) I’m joking, I’d say I’m still in the same state. Because this is something you can’t perfect. I don’t think you can mature when it comes to acting. I don’t think I’ve changed much from back then. I may have become more skilled but that’s not what decides that you’re good. But I do still blessed about being an actor. These past few years, I’ve been going on trips that I haven’t set ending dates to which is another privilege I think I wouldn’t be able to enjoy if I didn’t have this job. I love the time I spend completely alone. I don’t need to become influenced by what goes on outside, unlike in Korea, and I get to meet new people at new places which I think about.
10: How do you spend the average day then when you go on trips by yourself?
Ryoo: I wake up in the morning and grab a coffee from somewhere nearby where I’ll think of what I should do that day while smoking a cigarette. I don’t do a lot of sightseeing so I pass a few hours just sitting there like that. (laugh) I watch people as well. Then I’ll stand up and walk around a bit, then ride whatever form of public transportation there is if I get bored. I just walk about with no particular destination in mind. On my favorite recent trip as well, which was to New York, I completely forgot about the tension I have as an actor, eating and sleeping whenever I feel like it as if I’m an animal, going out for a walk and then going for a beer if I wake up in the middle of the night, then sleep again during the day if I want to. It was great. Actors usually feel the pressure to work out or learn something even when they’re taking breaks but I’m not in that state so I felt free. I become happy to the extent that I get goosebumps all over and feel like crying when I get to spend such days while being an actor…. about being able to distribute my time, having a relatively good amount of freedom in doing what I do, and that it has a good influence on my work.
10: So you’re saying that your real-life experiences affect your acting but I think you could also feel confused about that difference there is between that life you spend so freely versus your life as an actor which is fully packed.
Ryoo: It’s actually hard to balance the two. And it’s not like I produce movies or write scripts so I need to balance the two well. Since I’m a commercial actor who exposes himself in front of the public, there’ll be a lose as much as I gain. So I realized that I have a hard time when I can’t do that well. And there’ll be times I fall into mannerism because that gap between reality and my ideals become so big when I fail to balance them. So I’m still not good at it but I try to let go of such things and I need to train myself well within that reality. My future life.
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Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye seven@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@