Here is part II of Lee Seon Kyun‘s interview. It focuses more on his background and how he stumbled into acting. And his words for his wife are really sweet…
The full interview also includes snippets about his upcoming film “Paju.”
Beck: I’m curious what you would have been like when you were a young boy.
Lee: I did track and field when I was in elementary school and I was so crazy about basketball in high school that I used to play for 12 hours a day and considered going to college with it. I was an extremely normal kid up till high school and there wasn’t anything in particular that I wanted to do. The reason I took up liberal arts was because I really hated science. (laugh) I liked music so I wanted to be a producer for radio shows and I was interested in advertising too but I ended up not studying much so… (laugh)
Beck: What kind of music did you like?
Lee: Since I was the youngest in my family, I listened more to music that my older siblings would listen to rather than for music for kids my age. Especially music by musicians at Dong-A Productions! I used to sing Kim Hyun-shik’s songs when I was in fifth grade so nobody knew what I was singing. I don’t know why but I liked that sort of sentimentality. When I was young, my parents used the first floor and me and my siblings the second floor, and we used to listen to Kim Hyun-shik, Ryu Jae-ha and the Shinchon Blues everyday on LP. I had a certain pride about listening to music that kids my age didn’t know about. I also became friends very fast with kids who knew their music. And I enjoyed watching commercials so much that I wanted to do advertising too.
Beck: You spent quite some time unknown yet it doesn’t seem you were the actor who is more greedy or ambitious than other actors in particular. So what is it that kept you going and not let go of acting?
Lee: It may be because I had no ambition or aspirations. I was very simple-minded. But I was always thankful because there would always be someone looking for me. Even both then and now, what I want to be good at is acting and become a real actor. I have never dreamt of becoming a so-called ‘top actor.’ Of course, when I first made my TV appearance through a sitcom, I would worry whether I’d just become consumed but I learned a lot afterwards by appearing in short plays where I met some good people. So I think things have been okay for me. I’m not the type that sets a goal and charges toward it to achieve it.
Beck: I heard that it hadn’t been your dream from the beginning to become an actor.
Lee: Yes, before entering the School of Drama at Korea National University of Arts, I was part of the lighting team at the theater club of the college I had been at. But one of my seniors ran away so I took to the stage for the first time as his replacement. And that was, well, it’s hard to explain but it was nice. It was my first time on stage but I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt that I had done something actively that I felt good about for the first time. I guess there really is such a thing called fate.
Lee: After I saw my child come into the world, that I started theater because it was fate that it would happen. That is why I met Jeon Hye-jin, didn’t break up with her for seven years and ended up marrying her. I would have not thought of becoming an actor if my senior hadn’t run away and if my friend, who left our theater troupe in just two months of joining hadn’t introduced my wife to me… when I think of these presumptions, I think fate does exist to a certain extent. Although happiness depends on how you define it.
Beck: You have a voice that everyone says is mellow but I think there is also as much criticism about it. Has it ever been a complex for you?
Lee: Of course. I didn’t hear it directly but when I was in college doing short films, the staff had said amongst themselves that I’d have a tough time acting because my voice is very limited. A lot of people had said at the beginning of “Pasta” too that they couldn’t hear my lines properly. There were many times, up till the third episode, that I was putting on a one-man show and I noticed later on while watching it on air that it sounded like I was mumbling. I only became aware of it later on but my voice had become muffled because I was the only one using a wireless mic but I hadn’t taken that into consideration and just shouted away. I made up for it later on. I’m not saying I’m trying to come up with excuses though, I’m just saying that I had to go through trial and error. That’s why I was wavering in the beginning and very sensitive.
Beck: Marrying or becoming the father of a child is a huge change for a human being. Has such changes in your personal life brought any change to your mental attitude as an actor?
Lee: I went on a belated honeymoon after shooting drama “Triple” and there was a moment I felt what it would feel like to be a dad. We usually like to ride around on motorcycles when we go on trips but once my pregnant wife hopped on behind me, I suddenly became overcome with fear in having to ride on unpaved road. I was also scared we might fall over. Is this what becoming a husband is about? This is what marriage is — having to be careful and trying not to fall over. The next day I found myself waking up early and riding around the village myself. I wanted to figure out which roads we should take and it also felt very free riding alone. (laugh)
Beck:That’s why your recent soy sauce commercial instills an image of you as a good dad but when it’s on right after “Pasta,” it had the effect of immediately ruining the fantasy we had of you as a lover. (laugh)
Lee: Of the dramas that I’ve been in, “Pasta” was the one [Jeon] Hye-jin watched the most and had fun watching. She would always ask what happens next. And once she started to become absorbed with the drama as a viewer, she used to mention how much she hated seeing that commercial right after. (laugh)
Beck: Because it’s so realistic.
Lee: Yes. That’s why the staff of our drama used to make fun of me and say that was the reason we couldn’t reach ratings of over 30 percent. (laugh) But I actually really like that soy sauce commercial. The president of that company and their staff, they’re all like a big family and like a school… it’s quite unique. It didn’t feel like I was working when I recently was out on a promotional event. I exchange text messages with him from time to time… I really want to re-sign with them! (laugh)
Beck:You should take a break since your kitchen is closed now.
Lee:I’m looking at a couple scenarios but nothing has really hit the spot yet so I don’t want to rush it. I do think it would be hard to work on two dramas in year but, who knows. I’m going to work out a bit this time. I have the painful memory of having asked to have a swimming pool scene taken out in the first two episodes of “Pasta” because I was just not in shape for it… (laugh) I also don’t think it’s good for me as an actor to settle for the fact that I’m married and let myself become the typical middle-aged man — that it’s not good to neglect my body as I have been doing. And I used to not think maintaining a physique by working out was that important but I now think I should be more prepared in order to be able to take on a larger variety of roles. It’s not really about getting into shape but rather a test on myself. I want to try taking on the challenge for at least three months. Oh, now I’ll only be able to drink once a week. (laugh)