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[Interview] Joo Won Makes Another Big Leap through ‘Naeil’s Cantabile’

Mwave by Choi, EunHwa Oct 10, 2014 09:47 Updated Dec 20, 2017 14:03
The ‘trustworthy’ actor Joo Won is about to bring forth another drama sensation.

Airing its first episode on October 13, Joo Won will be acting as the aspiring top conductor ‘Cha Yoo Jin’ in KBS2’s Naeil’s Cantabile.

Naeil’s Cantabile is based on the original Japanese piece Nodame Cantabile. It is about the cold-hearted and brusque character named Chiaki and the 4-D genius pianist Nodame, who has a crush on him.

It was not only successful in Japan, but it also received a lot of love in Korea, which has led to high expectations for the upcoming drama.

How will Joo Won depict ‘Chiaki’? He has so far acted as the genius doctor suffering from savant syndrome, people’s hero ‘Bridal Mask,’ the security agent dreaming to become the next James Bond from ‘007’ and more, exceeding the viewer expectations every time with his acting abilities.

Joo Won met with enews on October 7 in ‘Morning Calm Village’ located in Gangwon province in order to resolve some of the curiosities about ‘Cha Yoo Jin,’ which Joo Won will be acting out in Naeil’s Cantabile.

Your hairstyle changed

“This is my first time parting my hair on the side and getting a wavy perm in the front. I had to change my hair in order to act out a musician character. My hairstyle does change a little in between dramas. For example, I put my hair up during a concert. There have been many likes and dislikes on my style but I like it. (laugher) Many people already tried the typical hairstyle of musicians. Since my character is still a student conductor, I think this style is okay.”

People showed positive reaction when they heard you will be acting as ‘Chiaki’

“I feel pressured to be acting out the remake of the great original piece. Kim Myung Min sunbaenim also gained popularity by acting as a conductor already. So taking that into consideration, I feel pressured to be acting out a new project but I couldn’t take on a role that simply talks, ever since I acted in Good Doctor. There are expectations of me and I also feel those expectations so I decided that I need to show something new, something that shows more than talking. Now, I think it was a good decision to choose this drama. Our drama definitely has a unique color compared to the others.”

Have you seen the original piece?

“I was a fan of Nodame Cantabile. I was cast after I have already seen the movie, drama and the comic books and I watched them again recently. They were good, as always. I could feel connected to it, even though it is a Japanese drama. Maybe it’s because I’m still young. (laughter) Many people are worried that the drama doesn’t fit the Korean culture but I think the viewers will totally fall in love with classical music.”

There is a new equation saying Joo Won = successful viewership rating. How do you feel about this drama?

“I read the scripts of the competing drama after I joined this drama. They both have pros and cons but this drama is what I needed at this moment, suits my current age and the role that I needed to take and that’s why I chose it. People say Japanese culture doesn’t suit Korean culture but I don’t think that the original piece will lose its greatness. It’s not all about being funny and since the story was edited to fit Korean culture, it will be entertaining. The pace is very fast too, so you can anticipate it. (laughter)”

Was it edited a lot compared to the original drama?

“We didn’t go out of the overall frame. First, there aren’t many songs that Chiaki works on in the original piece. He works on the same song for a long time. If he worked on three songs, I work on six, seven songs. The fans are worried that the drama will be too focused on romance but I’m trying not to. I think I can say that it focuses more on the music. We took the original piece’s elements where the situation makes the drama comical rather than the actions. Since we have a different cast and staff members, you can expect a project with a new feel.”
This is the first time you will be acting opposite an actress who is younger than you

“It was strange. (laughter) I was the oldest out of all the young cast members. Eun Kyung has a lot of experience and is good at acting so I get stimulated by her. Eun Kyung told me, ‘Oppa, you’re so good,’ so I told her, ‘I get motivated by you too.’ I can tell by looking at the edited clips, that Eun Kyung has been doing well.”

How much did you practice the violin or piano?

“For about five months. When I was working on the musical Ghost, I would practice playing the violin in the waiting room, right before performing on stage. I started practicing conducting about five, six months ago too and it was fun, but difficult. I could use a replacement actor but the viewers need to feel like I’m the one doing it so I practiced hard. It’s fortunate that there hasn’t been a problem filming. I was surprised watching the edited clips of myself. (laughter)”

Which area of music do you think you’re most talented in?

“I’ve once thought that I want to be a conductor if I were to be born again. (laughter) I think conducting is the most interesting. I really enjoy listening to music. I realized what it means to be intoxicated in music. When tens of instruments surrounded me, I felt like the conductors must feel intoxicated in music when thy conduct. It’s also charming to think that your ears get so developed in music. I even think about making my son into a conductor. (laughter)”


Did you always have knowledge about classical music?

“I learned the piano and clarinet when I was young. The teacher would hit my hand with a ruler if I didn’t place my hands on the right places on the piano, so I hated it. I complained about going to piano lessons but now I regret it. (laughter)Thankfully, my mother was learning music and made me take lessons as a young boy, so I think I have a sense of rhythm.”

You’ve been continuing to work on projects without resting. Aren’t you exhausted?

“To be honest, you should work on at least one drama a year. (laughter) Actually in between musicals, I began filming the movie Fashion King and filmed a Chinese movie as well. That’s when I was cast in the Cantabile project but I didn’t feel like I was working. When I was doing musicals, I would show up at around 5 p.m. to perform and when I was filming a movie, I would film as I chat and play around with the other actors my age. I enjoyed filming the Chinese movie as well. About 80% of the movie was filmed in Jeju island and I felt like I was on a vacation. That’s when I gained weight too. (laughter) So I should film at least one drama.”

Kim Myung Min from ‘Beethoven Virus’ also conducted. You must feel pressured

“I watched Beethoven Virus and I think Kim Myung Min sunbaenim led the drama well with his facial expressions and feel. But to be honest, I think I’m better in terms of skills. (laughter) I should say this carefully…. (laughter) Kim Myung Min sunbaenim may be above me in terms of experience and expressions but I also trust in my sense of rhythm and using my body accordingly. That’s how much I practiced.

I don’t have to use my left hand when I conduct. It’s not an easy thing to use the left hand. I still can’t move my left hand so easily when I try to split the beats but the reason I insist on using my left hand is because I’m aware of Kim Myung Min sunbaenim. I want to be able to do more than what he did. The viewers would want to see more than that so I’ve been practicing a lot in terms of skills.”

You must feel pressured about the actor who acted out original ‘Chiaki’

“I don’t necessarily think I should do better than ‘Chiaki.’ I also like the actor and I still get negative comments because of him (laughter) but I never thought of going beyond what he did. Some people may expect to see similar things but my character is ‘Cha Yoo Jin,’ not ‘Chiaki.’ He is still a brusque man who loves music and has a rich family, but Joo Won will be acting out ‘Cha Yoo Jin.’”

You seem to have lost a lot of weight

“I weighed around 75, 76 kilograms when I was working on Ghost but now I’m 69 kilograms. I dieted with meal plans and exercising because I thought I needed to slim down for the character.”

Don’t you want to go for ‘daesang’ if the project is successful?

“I would like to dream of receiving ‘daesang’ if it’s successful. There were so many things to prepare, compared to the other dramas. I do conducting, piano and violin but on the day when we show the director what we’ve practiced so far, the others showed around two songs but I showed him over ten songs. That’s how much I poured my time and effort into preparation. I would be thankful if I’m nominated and get the award (laughter) but it’s okay if I don’t receive the award.”

What is something you certainly want to show?

“I would like to carry on with successful viewership rating. The ratings have been low these days but I feel like this drama will do well. I get both nervous and excited every time I begin a new project but I would like to bring life to viewership ratings through this drama. I hope that dramas will get higher ratings and receive a lot of love again, through our project. I hope that articles would describe me as ‘the man of viewership rating’ once again for this project. (laughter)”

Photo credit: Sim Entertainment
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