Aren’t there times you have to pretend to be a certain way as well, regardless of whether you want to or not, because you’re actors who get shown to the public?
Ji Sung: We’ll pretend to be very tough and charismatic but we’re actually delicate people. We have to open up ourselves in many ways in the projects we take on. We need to really cry in the crying scenes and really show pain in the scenes we have to express pain so our emotions weaken and waver easily. You may think we’re not lonely because we always have a lot of people around us but we actually get lonely very easily.
That’s why it’s important to hold your ground but there must be a lot of factors, outside your acting, that will make you waver.
Ji Sung: I once heard this from an acquaintance. “You must feel so at ease and happy for having a fun job. You guys may come on television and say you went through hard times but is there anyone in this world who hasn’t been through that much suffering?” And it felt a bit uncomfortable to hear that. No matter how much I may love what I do, it’s separate from how hard it is to get my job done. Someone said to me that he feels the happiest when he’s listening to music in the car on his way to a second round of drinks after a first round of drinks which I completely agreed to because you’re happy no matter what you do since you’re slightly buzzed and you’re looking forward to going to a new location. Actors are people that have to keep feeling that sense of joy. It may not seem that special but it’s not easy to do.
I guess actors need assistants like Noh Eun-seol as well. (laugh)
Ji Sung: I admit to it. (laugh) I wish I had an assistant who like a mentor, could keep a close eye on me and direct me in the right way. The reason Cha Ji-heon was able to feel the trivial joys to life was because of Noh Eun-seol as well.
But you’ve been the main character in all your works since SBS’ “Splendid Days” and your acting career hasn’t been on that many ups and downs ever since which proves how trusted you are as an actor. How do you think you came to gain that image?
Ji Sung: I think I gave myself quite a bit of time to do it. And I’m not an actor who is as good-looking as Song Seung-heon so I told myself that I’d try to create an image that is unique of me. I was raised under educators so a part of me used to think in a way that was a bit stifling. So to free myself from it, I decided to play various characters. That’s how I came to do SBS’ “All In,” then historical drama “Woman of the King” and then a difficult movie. After those, I finally started to think that I’ve come to know what acting is about but then I heard that I’m two percent short from being great. And that was when I got drafted to the military so it really drove me crazy but I feel more comfortable after completing my duties.
Is it a change that military life brought about?
Ji Sung: I came to put my mind at ease after realizing what I’d been frustrated about and deciding the direction I would take when in the military. And I started all over again, with MBC’s “New Heart,” after I got discharged. I could’ve reached my goal quicker if I had dashed straight forward but I’ve always gone the long way around. But I have no regrets about it. I’ve never wanted to shoot to stardom. I just worked hard at what I do because I like it.
Does it mean you don’t care about how fast you get there?
Ji Sung: I don’t dwell on it. I just want to last a long time. I want to become an actor that people always want to talk to and feel like they could have fun with, regardless of age.
In that sense then, I think you must’ve felt a lot from working with actor Park Young-gyu who played your father in the drama. He’s a senior to you who has been in the business for a long time after going through much ups and downs.
Ji Sung: It was great that he worked with us younger actors despite his age. What’s important was that he worked with us instead of leaving everything up to everyone else after he got done with his parts. And that’s what I’m going to do when I’m old as well. I don’t think actors should act when they can’t do that anymore.
Did you talk with him a lot on set? About things outside of work?
Ji Sung: I actually couldn’t have personal conversations with him too early on because his son passed away a few years ago. I felt bad even trying to behave like his kid. And I choked up sometimes because through the way he treated me in the show, I could feel that he wanted to do certain things for his son as well. I could feel it just from looking at his eyes.
Then maybe that was why but the scene at the end where you hugged him when he allowed Cha Ji-heon to date Noh Eun-seol was very moving.
Ji Sung: I felt the emotions surge the moment we went into rehearsals. I was sitting in the yard, then looked at him while standing up and wow, I couldn’t bear it. I wasn’t even supposed to cry loudly. I was just supposed to be moved to tears but after hugging him… I was very sad. Looking at him, I came to think that life is not easy and that he must’ve been through a lot of hardships.
You met good people and got time to think about your life through “Protect the Boss.” What’s your biggest gain as an actor?
Ji Sung:: It gave me courage. I’ve come to gain the confidence to talk about my life and human beings with certainty. I’ll probably take on a movie next since I haven’t done one for a long time but I’m hoping I’ll get to play a character that’ll bring out my strengths. I hope that it makes both myself and people happy.
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Reporter : Lee Ga-on
Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@, Jang Kyung-Jin three@