You must be in the midst of hot days.
I didn’t expect this kind of response. Descendants of the Sun, after all, is only one of the many dramas passing by. As an actor who does commercial work, of course I feel good if the response is good. But once I watch the last episode I think I will cry a lot. After crying like that as much as I want, I have to leave it behind. I think I have to detach my emotions, even on purpose. And after that I should focus on my next work. But later when I think about Descendants of the Sun at the question, “Have you done all that you can?” I hope that I can say it is a project I am not ashamed of.
Do you think it will be a project you won’t be ashamed of?
Hmm…rather than being ashamed of, how do I say this…when I think about this work in the far future, I think I will be a bit sorry. Because it is my first work after being discharged from the army, it is true that I gave it my best effort. But during filming I was injured; I could have done more but there were a lot of things I couldn’t and so there are parts that I regret.
The response was enormous to the point that it’s called a syndrome. I’m wondering how it feels to receive support from so many people.
If I were to speak honestly, it feels very nice. These days I am experiencing things that I wasn’t able to experience until now. As happy things keep happening, I also feel myself developing gradually. Should I call it the feeling of a callus forming? As I receive more interest my family and even extremely private details have been revealed. It may be something I need to endure but whenever something like that happens, it can be hard. And so I think I should not hurt other people. ‘Ah, because this kind of thing wounded me, I shouldn’t wound others with this,” thoughts like this. Because I got to know what pain is, I don’t want to hurt others. Isn’t there something like that? When your shoulder stiffens or aches even when another another person massages it well. I think myself growing in that same regard. Although I spend really delightful days the opposite also occurs. Even as I say this I don’t receive huge amounts of stress, but I think it’s like slowly developing calluses.
You returned after two years through a drama. I think that time was about taking something out of me first and also filling me in. It was less than two years but I think it was used quite meaningfully. Son Hyun-joo sunbaenim is both a drinking buddy and a senior that I really like, and before my enlistment the words he gave me resonated with me so much. ‘Don’t go to the army and use unusual skills; spend your army days normally. You’ve been living a life of an actor and a star, so I think going to the army, cutting your hair and spending time suffering with friends who are eight, nine years younger will surely be of help to you. And I think that time will also help even in your acting.’ That time I spent with those friends filled me up, just like sunbae said. If there’s something I threw away wouldn’t it be pretentiousness? To be honest I truly hate being pretentious so I have a side of me that is purposely careful. Although I may think I don’t have it, as I am living as an actor I think I had pretenses that even I am not aware of. Another thing I gained was freedom. And I also got know-hows on spending and living life as an actor.
People may cheer ardently for an actor but turn their back in a brief instant. It isn’t easy to be easy-going about it. There probably isn’t anyone who would have confidence when it comes to that. And I don’t think it applies only to celebrities. If you want to make a lifetime profession out of what you’re doing right now, wouldn’t you not give up and discipline yourself for the sake of going through your work? If you’re to control your mind there’s no other way but to develop calluses. There will definitely be downhills so you shouldn’t be swayed and you must become wiser. Among Kim Min-ki sunbaenim’s songs is one called ‘The Peak.’ To sum up its contents, ‘Don’t be conceited because you say you climbed atop a big summit; after that comes the downhill slope. At that time, find another mountain top.’ To find another mountain top, you have to become wiser. Fortunately I am not scared of things like that.
It seems like the burden of your next project is as hot as the response to your comeback. Your next work being the film Battleship Island by director Ryu Seung-wan in itself raises expectations. There’s never been a case that I am not worried about an upcoming project, but I have a good feeling this time. It’s a bit different from feeling that it’ll be a box office hit. When filming ends I’ll be 33. We’ll be shooting for 6-7 months and I have faith when it comes to sunbaes Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub, Lee Kyung-young, Lee Jung-hyun and director Ryu Seung-wan. There is no scene in the world that isn’t difficult. It may be agonizing work when it’s also emotionally difficult, but I think this set will have a pleasant energy. That feeling of each of us bringing out a good energy. From a soldier to an independence fighter in the next project, I keep getting roles about working for the country. (laughs) People may either remember an actor for a long time or forget in an instant depending on what character an actor plays. As an actor, it is fun and charming to find work through that point. Whether it’s becoming Captain Yoo Si-jin or becoming an independence fighter, I don’t know whether it (a role) might be poison or medicine to me. I’m not swayed by people’s reactions to a character and I want to lean on the power carried by the project and the script.
Come to think of it, dramas and movies have even weight on your filmography. A lot of people may think like that, but when you examine it closely there’s really not a lot. It’s just that recently the reaction to my work has been good so I think that’s why it seems like that. I don’t really know if it’s good to do a lot of work or not. A friend of mine had my fortune read and it says not to do a lot of projects. (laughs)
To be honest I can’t picture an older Song Joong-ki. My fans also have a lot of worries regarding that. It seems like a face that loses it charm as it ages. (laughs) That’s why I want to be better at acting. It’s a clear fact that to an actor looks are very important. That’s why I want to do better at acting, because acting surpasses looks. I think that’s what I have to do so even in the downward slopes I can go down slowly.
What did your twenties look like? I lived relentlessly, and that’s why I am content. I couldn’t have a lot of fun so it’s a bit of a shame but because I lived interestingly I have no regrets. I plan to have more fun in my thirties. Whether it’s filming or doing another job there will be occasions of unexpected conflicts, so now I want to live with fewer frowns on my face.
Is today your life’s brightest moment? I think so. It may be because a lot of people like me, but I personally having a fun life. Acting is bit by bit becoming harder, but that is also why it’s becoming more fun.
Does someone so beloved by the masses such as yourself have any complex? Naturally. Compared to [Lee] Gwang-soo I’m short. Well, if I’m going to be tall like that, I don’t want to grow taller. (laughs) Isn’t it the same for anyone when they think about what they’re good at and what they are lacking at? However I wanted to ceaselessly break the question of whether I can do something or not. There are projects that I pick that are difficult to the point that the moment I enter the filming site I think, ‘why did I say I’ll do this project?’ The likes of A Tree with Deep Roots or A Werewolf Boy are projects I chose with the thought of crashing into it first. Of course a piece of work is not completed with just my strength. All projects are group-made works of art. It is a work that is possible through everyone’s presence, even up to the most junior staff members, and putting everyone together is the lead actor’s responsibility.
To an actor, each project eventually becomes akin to a challenge. Are you the daring type when it comes to challenges? I hesitate. As I hesitate I try and at times I also give up. Ah, perhaps this side of me can also be considered a complex.
What were the things you couldn’t defy as you hesitated? It could be dating, it could also be the army. I was hesitating and went late.
You’re active as a model for an outdoor brand. There are scenes in the ads where you walk around the city. Have you always liked walking? I like walking around. Even when I go on trips abroad I walk as much as I could and then take a car. I went to Japan for fun and there was a time when I walked from Shibuya to Roppongi for a couple of hours.
You probably can’t walk around Seoul as much as you want. Even so, I have a trail that I like to take. I like the Hyehwa-dong neighborhood where I lived as a college student, and I like walking through streets around the Blue House, or quiet neighborhoods like Seongbok-dong. When I walk around Seongbok-dong I usually come across older people so I greet them happily and am able to freely walk around, so it’s nice.
When it comes to traveling, are you the courageous type? I’m the cautious type. But the type of traveler with a lot of curiosity. Because I can’t suppress my curiosity I try to do the things I hesitate about.
What is something you’ve done in a trip that you didn’t hesitate about and took the courage to do? A week before shooting the drama Nice Guy at 11 PM I suddenly wanted to go on a trip so I went to Japan by myself. Nothing but myself. To be honest it’s not easy for an actor to go on trips alone but I tried it. I went and only read the scripts diligently but even so it was fun. I think I was able to finish Nice Guy well with that strength.
I’m curious about how you look when you’re not acting. I talk with Gwang-soo, play games with him, and we also drink. (laughs) After Gwang-soo became ‘Asia’s Prince’ I couldn’t meet him often. These days it’s always been like this: ‘Where are you?’ ‘Malaysia.’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘Thailand.’ I plan to get a little revenge now. When Gwang-soo asks where I am I should say I’m overseas. (laughs)
This year will probably remain as a special memory more than any other time. I don’t know about anything else but this might be the year I become filial to my parents. To my parents who live in the province, the news is an ‘absolute’ existence. They truly liked seeing their son on the news. I thought, this is it. Next time when I get offered to appear in the news I should go again. (laughs)
Last question: are you happy these days? I’m happy. Back then I had a nice guy complex so I was the type who couldn’t refuse. Now I am able to express my thoughts more honestly than before. And more than anything I was able to find out how to enjoy my life, so I’m glad.
Interview from Marie Claire Korea; original article
Translation: 猫 from Trans Fats