Like a weightlifter raising more than the limits, Lee Sung-kyung is pushing up the weight of the challenge with all her strength. Using a bright and innocent childlike face.
Today broadcasts the last episode of the drama, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo. How do you feel right now?
Yesterday we had the last shooting and I couldn’t sleep at all. The director told us we worked hard and made a plaque for us; while receiving it and seeing [Nam] Joo-hyuk crying so much I thought, ‘ah, it really has ended.’ But even so it still doesn’t feel real. I still think tomorrow I will go to the set and have to run.
How did you come across this project that gave a hungry feeling?
Hearing that I had to gain weight as it was a role of a weightlifter, I had many thoughts like, ‘can I do it?’ ‘What do I do if it’s hard?’ I also read the script and thought, how uninteresting (laughs). But as I went through one page to the next, I go, ‘why is it this funny,’ and read it all in an instant. Like play dolls, I drew Bok-joo’s image in front of me, from her style to the way she speaks. I wondered whether I’d do it or not. Because I hold a sense of responsibility and I had to act, I couldn’t thoughtlessly say it was interesting. But I didn’t worry about it long. Rather, I made up my mind with the thought that I had nothing more to lose.
It was an excellent choice. You gave up beauty and gained Kim Bok-joo.
Everyone was worried about the change in my outward appearance. Gaining weight, weightlifting, how I’d do my hair. But to me however much I looked like Bok-joo, I thought, what’s the use if I couldn’t act. Becoming Bok-joo, speaking and behaving like Bok-joo, that was the bigger problem. They say I destroyed Lee Sung-kyung[‘s image], but I don’t think acting as Bok-joo was only about destroying image. Bok-joo may lack femininity and may not be pretty but I saw her as charming. She’s someone who innocently follows her heart. When she’s happy she laughs, when she’s sad she cries, when she’s angry she screams out. Even when she hides her emotions it gets discovered. I hoped for the viewers to see this pure side of Bok-joo. Rather than a response to how I was in the drama, I wanted to hear conversations about how Bok-joo was like this, that Bok-joo is very charming.
Did you reach this goal?
People now call me Bok-joo. Even in comments ‘Bok-joo’ comes out more than my name.
It seemed like [the role was] a dress that fit you very well. You said you wanted to become the character, but ultimately the character was able to breathe through the actor.
Of course the expressions I made are Bok-joo’s expressions. But interestingly when filming started and I went inside Bok-joo’s world, people started treating me as Bok-joo and so I became Bok-joo. Rather than how I projected myself as Lee Sung-kyung, through Bok-joo’s heart I showed how she’d react, how she’d talk and behave.
In the world Bok-joo lives in, how did the person that is Lee Sung-kyung change?
During the first half of the drama my condition wasn’t good. Doctors had just finished and I had to prepare [for this role] straight away and so on my rest days I would practice weightlifting from daybreak. Because I rushed without any rest I became drained. There was a lot of filming left and I worried about getting sick, so that worsened my stress. But as it went by my heart lightened and I became more comfortable. Because I acted with an honest feeling, it became a healing process. Falling in love, grumbling and being troubled over the fact that it won’t end well with her and her unrequited love, crying a lot over her sick father while saying, “I’m sorry too for saying the kimbap you made for me was ugly,” becoming this Bok-joo and falling for her honest emotions felt like I was being purified. Even in the constraints of looks I became more free. When I started acting I was very concerned over my looks and formed a complex. While acting as Bok-joo, I returned to my previous image. I became unworried over a swollen face as I wake up in the morning and even make-up was done in 10 minutes on the way to the set (laughs).
Is it a character that you wouldn’t be able to do at any other time but now?
I think so. Jin Seo-woo in Doctors was a role much older than me. As I portrayed Bok-joo, I realized that rather than acting older and stronger, it was harder to go back to young and innocent emotions. I don’t know how I’ll change from here on out. Even if I portray Bok-joo again it would be different from today’s Bok-joo.
Through this work, you received praise of ‘performance of a lifetime.’ Did you try something different from before?
It was because Bok-joo is truly a lovely character that I received compliments, not because I did something well. Experience piles up and though I might be getting better at some things, I have a lot of shortcomings so aren’t a lot of things I can do. I perform in order for even a few more people feel my sincerity. When watching documentaries, the expressions in the people’s faces aren’t dramatic or varied. But when they laugh or cry, people heavily identify with them. I think it’s the same [with acting]. If you do it sincerely, act with real emotions, wouldn’t that be conveyed to people’s hearts?
“Happiness isn’t winning a medal and becoming a national representative, but I hope you become happy while weightlifting,” is a famous line in the drama. I’d like to borrow than line and ask: are you happy while you act?
It is the gold medal that is the weightlifter’s dream. If you want to become happy in the process of achieving your dream, you have to like what you do. Dreaming of gifted acting and even wishing for high viewer ratings are also like that. I quit modeling, which I regard as something precious, and started acting. Studying music, wanting to do musicals were the only thoughts in my mind, so I didn’t have confidence. But I went beyond my means and encountered many respectable works. If each time I didn’t like this work and I didn’t plan to do well I would’ve had a hard time. I want to do well now.
Is Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo a successful drama?
Even though the viewer ratings weren’t good I think it’s closer to a success. We filmed it with the hope that we wouldn’t be ashamed to introduce our drama and say, “Don’t miss it!” When you see comments about the drama, many respond with sympathy as they laugh and cry together. I think, isn’t that a success? It was the first time I received so much support from portraying a role.
Did you find out what people liked about you?
Hearing the words ‘Lee Sung-kyung’s Reversal’ made me realize the fact that I had a glamorous image. I think it might be because I was a model that I mainly assume sophisticated character roles. So I am very thankful that through Bok-joo I was able to show people an image [of myself that] they couldn’t imagine. I laughed a lot when hearing words like, “To think a tall woman over 170 cm could be cute.”
I think the concern over your next project will also grow.
Concerns are things you have to decide on so you can do it. I still don’t know what kind of work I will come across, so I’m also anxious. When the chance comes I will try to prepare in order to bring out my ambition and enjoy acting.
Your sweet romance with close friend Nam Joo-hyuk also became a topic of conversation.
Just like Joo-hyuk’s role of Bok-joo’s guy friend Joon-hyung, Joo-hyuk is a close friend and so we worked well together. We were close from our modeling days and we shot a lot of couple photoshoots so it wasn’t awkward. Now instead of ‘Joo-hyuk’ I call him ‘Hey! Jung Joon-hyung!’
Did you discover anything new about Nam Joo-hyuk?
I realized he’s a friend who carries honest emotions like a child. There’s a scene where he meets the mother he’s been separated from since childhood and cries out, and Joo-hyuk cried so hard he couldn’t say his lines so the scene had to be cut. He showed his tears even before rehearsals. Those were emotions he must never have had before but I was in awe seeing him take it as is and cry out loud.
You also became known as ‘a person rich in guy-friends.’
Sigh, when filming together or even just taking photos together, people make things seem much more intimate than it is.
If a guy friend shows reasonable good feelings to you, like in the drama…
I am honest by nature and expression. So I don’t hold back. If for instance I also feel the same way, I wouldn’t bother hiding it; if it’s the opposite, I would certainly tell him. When I look back, I think there’s a manly sensation in honest people.
Just like Bok-joo who wore a red hairpin to look good in front of the man she has a crush on, what do you do when you want to look pretty?
Our attitude changes depending on the clothes we wear, right? I am reckless by nature….these days I am into interesting styles. I’ll wear zany pearl necklaces or one day I’ll wear a man’s outfit, one day I’d change into a chic mood, another day I’ll wear something over the top. It’s fun to make a new me every day with different styles. But because I portrayed Physical Education major Bok-joo I lived wearing tracksuits. It’s the most comfortable thing in the world (laughs).
Interview from Elle Korea; original article link
Translation: 猫 from Trans Fats