On SBS’ talk show “Healing Camp” aired on February 6, actor Choi Min-shik said he adored Ryu Seung-beom, his co-star of film “Crying Fist,” when Choi slapped him for missing out on the shoots for the movie from time to time but Ryu just sobbed without giving any excuses. This brief story does not make it too hard for one to figure out what sort of actor, senior to a junior actor, and person Choi is — an actor who places having a professional mindset ahead of having outstanding acting skills, which is why he would not mind exerting “strong punishments” on less experienced actors who do not keep the most basic promises, but is also moved by the tears they shed. That is how Choi has lived his life as an actor for the past 25 years. The reason the audience of his latest movie “War on Crime” say, “Choi Min-shik, he still has it” is because they saw the tenacity in this actor in his fifties who recently learend to dance Girls’ Generation’s choreography to song “Hoot” lest he “fall into routine.” And from the way in which he told about a story he has in mind after saying that he “can do melodramas too,” it looks like the next project he will be headed for is a melodrama. Below is 10Asia’s interview with Choi.
The fact that you’re a fan of Girls’ Generation became quite the talk of the town. [laughs]
Choi Min-shik: With age, you’re bound to get stuck in a rut. So that’s when I watch Girls’ Generation perform. Say my wish? Okay, my wish is… [laughs] It’s important that you pick up special experiences from daily life but so is being able to feel emotions from small occurrences and having a good sense of what’s going on although it’s very hard to do.
I think it was refreshing to us particularly because of the fact that you’re the actor that played Oh Dae-soo in “Oldboy” and Jung Kyung-cheol in “I Saw the Devil.” I also think that you must’ve though a lot about how you’d want the public to see you after “I Saw the Devil.”
Choi: I don’t know about other people but I’ve never been concerned about what I would seem like to the public. I just go with whatever suits my taste. If that’s what I’d been worried about, how could I have taken on “I Saw the Devil” in the first place? My criterion for choosing a project is whether the world inside the project is interesting to me.
In what way was “War on Crime” interesting to you?
Choi: I really like epics although not a lot of them are made these days. Movies that you can just sit through instead of having to lean your body forward and tense up for. Movies that you can put food next to you to eat while watching and go back to after a phone call. Actors don’t feel any pressure from the fact that those movies are long and have long-standing stories. It rather makes us want to go for them.
I think you must’ve had an easier time playing Choi Ik-hyun because he’s funnier than Oh Dae-soo or Jang Kyung-cheol and is someone the audience can sympathize with.
Choi: There was no emotional pressure I felt over the character I played. When I did “I Saw the Devil,” I gagged over fake blood although I knew it was fake because it felt like it smelled real. I was extremely stressed from the pressure from the situation, pressure from the story’s setup, pressure from the character, and pressure from what he does. But while there was no such stress this time, I had to pull of a huge amount of scenes. I kept filming in Busan when everyone else had gone up to Seoul after shooting all their scenes. [laughs] And I couldn’t let go of my string of tension because he was related to all the characters and incidents of the movie.
You must’ve constantly been nervous for different reasons.
Choi: Movies aren’t usually shot in order so I had to remember every nerve fiber involved… How I felt when shooting one scene and how the business reached such results. I needed to focus so hard that my nerves became as sharp as razor blades. Even the scenes that it looked like I might’ve shot easily were not, I thought for them too, so how should I put it… It was very tiring.
Well the movie paid a lot of attention to history in the sense that producers looked for actors who seemed like ‘the bad guy from the 1980s’ even for the most minor roles. So did you bear this in mind as well in approaching your character Choi Ik-hyun?
Choi: Outside of the fact that those were times when there was much political instability and hence, there were protests everyday and tear gas was everywhere, nothing was different between people from the 1980s versus 1990s. It’s not like fathers from the 1980s are different from father from the year 2012. And of course they could be different in terms of disposition such as there being fathers who are like friends or fathers who are more family oriented but I don’t think they’d ever change in the fact that they think they should protect their families and love their children.
Hence “War on Crime” is a drama about Choi Ik-hyun who is a threatening gangster but also a true father. And I’m sure that a lot of people must be going to theaters with high expectations of you. You must feel a different sense of responsibility from other over the movie.
Choi: The only thing I was telling myself is that needs to be done is for me to portray my character well. Although of course I was also thinking that if I do bad, this movie will bad and go in a completely different direction. [laughs] In that sense, I thank my junior actors a lot. Everybody does their job.
As much as Choi Ik-hyun was linked to every character, how was it working with your juniors?
Choi: Ha Jung-woo is a leading actor in his age range so h could’ve thought, ‘Why do I need to support him?’ But he exited after pulling off a great ensemble in the movie with his role as Choi Hyung-bae and that too with no other intentions. And I just couldn’t thank him more for that as someone who is more senior to him. The aim of a sports game is to score a goal but not everybody can run towards it. Someone needs to be ready to receive a pass that someone else dribbles. And that’s the basics, as well as most difficult thing about acting. When I acted on stage, I was told over and over again, “Listen to what your partner is saying. Don’t move forward by yourself.” There are so many actors that talk to themselves and become conscious of the camera once they go into shoot.
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Reporter : Lee Ga-on
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@, Jang Kyung-Jin three@