A translation of a Sports Donga interview by reporter Lee Hae Ri.
Yoo Ah In not only dropped out of high school, but has once also quit acting. At that time, he never stopped questioning himself – “Is acting really what I want?” He then realized, that even when he stopped acting, he could never get addicted to a comfortable life. This was his answer.
This guy lives his life to the fullest. He is a star of youths, receiving the love of many ardent fans in their teens. If you thought Yoo Ah In is just well-known for being a cool fashionista, you’d better read on. This guy thinks about his troubles more fervently than peers of the same age. Yes, I’m talking about my (reporter’s) discovery of Yoo Ah In who talks passionately about his opinions.
The movie “Wandeukie” is directed by Lee Han and will be opening on Oct 20, 2011. Yoo Ah In takes on the lead role of 2nd year high school student “Do Wan Deuk,” or simply known as “Wandeukie.” The majority of reviews describe the movie as “unexpected”. Yoo Ah In himself says, “From everyone’s point of view, they probably think this is the most unexpected work I would choose with my background, after Sungkyunkwan Scandal ended.”
After seeing the script of Wandeukie, he immediately met with the director and requested almost forcefully, “Please give Wandeukie to me.” His reason, to quote him, was because “the familiar theme of this movie doesn’t mean it will go stale when it’s used again. I wanted to capture everyone’s attention with a fresh interpretation (of the theme).” Of course, actors do not always get the roles that they want. Yoo Ah In admitted, “It took quite a bit of time before I was confirmed for the role of Wandeukie.”
With the opening of “Wandeukie” just around the corner, I met Yoo Ah In for a short interview that lasted just over an hour, during which he gave very succinct explanations of what he thinks. Regarding his co-star Kim Yoon Suk, he said, “Although in real life he’s like an introvert, he’s absolutely not like that as an actor.” Describing the kind of acting that he hopes to achieve, he said resolutely, “The moment I get addicted to a comfortable life, that must mean I’ve stopped (progressing) in my acting.”
“Asking myself, ‘Why?’ provides me with the greatest strength”
25-year-old Yoo Ah In began acting 8 years ago while he was still a high school student.
He made his debut in 2004 KBS drama 반올림1 (“Rounding up to the nearest whole number”), before he went on to quit school and acting altogether. Those were times when he wandered aimlessly. Said Yoo Ah In, “Even now, I’m always asking myself whether acting is what I really want, whether I’m born to act.”
He says he’s always asking himself, “Why?” Till he finds an answer, he never gives up on the self-questioning.
“When I quit high school, people said ‘That kid has problems’… They’re right, I had problems. I asked myself why I had to attend school and I couldn’t find an answer. I felt that I made the right choice (to quit). What gives me the biggest strength is always the questions I throw on myself. I don’t take anything as it is.”
Yoo Ah In attracted much fame in KBS 2TV’s “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” last year. Almost one year later, he chose “Wandeukie” as his following work, taking up the lead role as Wandeukie, a child of mixed Korean-Filipino parentage who’s a high school student angry with the whole world. “Wandeukie resembles me. The restless, aimless wandering of teenage youth, I think that’s a problem still within me.”
“In a movie filled with great actors, I had no choice but to pretend to be one too.”
“Wandeukie” is a movie led by two main actors Yoo Ah In and Kim Yoon Shik. Taking on the role of student and teacher respectively, the way their relationship built up on screen can be likened to the speed of a ping pong ball flying back and forth on the ping pong table during an exciting match. Despite their 18-year age gap, the acting showdown between Yoo Ah In and Kim Yoon Suk brings a palpable tension to the movie that’s more melo than action. Yoo Ah In said, “The moment the camera starts rolling, all of us must become equals. Even if its against the will of the other party (to become equals), senior Kim Yoon Suk will make it a level playing field for everybody. On the set filled with great actors, I had no choice but to (be equal to them and) pretend to be one too.”
Even while talking about the scenes in Wandeukie that he was dissatisfied with, Yoo Ah In did not hold back his words.
“There was a scene where Wandeukie prayed fervently in church for Dong Joo (Kim Yoon Suk) to die. I found it very unrealistic, like a scene from a comic, so it was difficult expressing that scene. I’m still not satisfied with the scene, it’s probably merely passable, I guess. I had many lines where I talk to myself alone, it was really difficult and awkward. But of course now that I’ve finished filming, I probably can see things in a more encompassing way, from a broader viewpoint,” he added before laughing.
“When I was 20, I shot a short feature film and I actually went around crazily telling people that ‘I’m an artiste!’, ‘I’m an outsider!’ (akin to a free spirit away from the trappings of society conventions)Now, I think I can view things in balance. Well it’s not as if I’m some great artist. Now I’m still on my way in search of how to go beyond the acting that is kind of ‘closed up’.
Towards this guy who is trying to enrich himself as a serious actor, I asked him whether he has a “mentor”. He gave me a Yoo Ah In-esque answer.
“Rather than the words of someone who teaches, I prefer to follow people whom I want to emulate. Despite how senior Kim Yoon Suk gives off the feeling that ‘You must never follow someone like me”, I regard him as a mentor too. There are many whom I regard as mentors.”
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