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[Interview] Actor Jung Il Woo Talks Taking Lead through His Third Sageuk

Mwave by Ko Hong Ju Nov 7, 2014 16:29 Updated Dec 20, 2017 14:05
With three sageuks, he has filled his filmography with various projects as he enters 9th year of acting. It′s the result that has come from hard work.


Drama The Night Watchman’s Journal ended with a happy ending. Taking on the role of ghost-seeing prince Lee Rin, Jung Il Woo became king in the end, making his dream and love come true.

The past four months were not easy for Jung Il Woo. Not only did he suffer injuries from action scenes but he also had to fight against lack of sleep due to straining schedules. He said, “I had to film by pinching my thighs. Filming itself was a mental challenge.”

The evidence of Jung Il Woo’s consistent efforts were shown through the project. Debuting with the film The World of Silence in 2006, Jung Il Woo acted out various characters in Highkick, The Return of Iljimae, 49 Days, Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Moon Embracing the Sun, Golden Rainbow and more, expanding his acting spectrum and made another leap through this project.

▶ Q&A with Jung Il Woo

# How have you been since the drama ended?

“I’ve been keeping myself busy. I visited Jeju island and traveled to Sokcho with the production team and cast of The Night Watchman’s Journal. I have a tight schedule, including overseas activities and interviews.”

#How do you feel? Does it feel like the project is over?

“In a way it feels like everything disappeared all of a sudden. I think modern pieces definitely linger in my mind longer. Modern dramas are about things that might happen in real life and I wear modern clothes so sometimes I cannot easily get out of it even when it’s over. On the other hand, when I film a historical piece I feel like I travel to the past using a time machine. It feels empty once it’s over.”
# It was a journey of four months, which is not short.

“I filmed by poured in my everything for four months. It would be a lie if I say I didn’t get drained of energy. I think it’s time for healing.”

# It must have been physically challenging?

“I really had to act by pinching my thighs (laughter). No matter how physically fit you are, your concentration level falls if you act without sleeping for six nights. There were times when I had to stay up all night, take a shower and go back to filming. I remember fighting myself by pinching my thighs. I fiercely worked hard in order to not lose my consciousness.”

# Is there a reason you prefer fantasy-related genres?

“I think they suit me well. The Moon Embracing the Sun was a fusion sageuk and 49 Days also included fantasy elements. When I work on such projects, I feel like I’m in a game. I felt the same when I was trying to catch the monster serpent in The Night Watchman’s Journal. (laughter)”
# Was there anything tough about acting out a character who can see ghosts?

“It was a character that went through changes as he became a ‘night watchman.’ It was hard catching ghosts in every episode. The ghost appearances meant I had to film all through the night. This is the first time I had such a tough time filming.”

# Did you get injured while filming action scenes?

“I was injured everywhere including my face, feet and hands. I had to rush to the hospital once while filming an action scene. Although I have scars everywhere, I think of them as scars of honor.”

# You’ve filmed three sageuks already. As an actor, what is so charming about sageuks?

“It a genre that portrays very delicate line of speech and emotions. Of course if differs by characters but I think sageuk characters have charms that differentiate them from others.”

# Did you have a large responsibility as the lead actor, leading your junior actors?

“That’s what I was careful about. In my case, I always ask, ‘What do you think?’ as I try to adjust myself according to the others. Even though I’m sunbae, the hubae actors have certain characters and acting direction in their mind, so I tried to act by respecting that. Acting has no answer so it’s hard to say you can teach someone and since there is no answer, it’s always difficult.”

# You’ve proven yourself as a trustworthy actor.

“Is that right? I’m still lacking and have a long way to go but I was just lucky. Time goes by really quickly. I will be 30 soon.”

# You’re entering your 9th year of acting already.

“That’s right. The director tells me to act however I like since I’ve acted for almost 10 years. He really didn’t gave me any direction until the end and respected my acting style. I think I was able to concentrate more because I felt like he had his trust in me.”

# Has anything improved compared to before in terms of acting?

“If I was in the process of finding my color before, I’m definitely more relaxed now. I personally feel like I’ve improved in terms of pronunciation and vocalization.

# Finally, is there anything else you want to say?

“I will be wrapping up this year with an Asia tour. I would like to greet you with my next project without taking a long break. I don’t know which project I will be working on yet but I’ve narrowed it down to either romantic comedy or a completely dark character. Please continue to show your support for actor Jung Il Woo’s growth.”

Photo credit: enews

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