Watching Pasta right now and falling in love with his beautiful velvety voice… anyways, Lee Seon Kyun has an interview with asiae and it sheds some light on the set of Pasta. It’s a three-part interview, but I’ll be cutting them up and posting it into two parts. You can read the full interview at the asiae website.
Here’s the first part:
Beck (Beck Una): Unlike the amicable atmosphere we see in “Pasta,” we heard you had to actually work intensively, as if you were almost shooting live.
Lee: Wow, I wanted to die. Really. And I was grateful when our show got extended but me and [Kong] Hyo-jin were going nuts. We were shooting as if on a live schedule starting with around the seventh episode and from about the ninth episode on, I only slept a total 11 hours during a whole week. I was in a near-panic state too because I was in almost every scene and had so many lines. I would hallucinate and hear my own voice when I lie down after being in shoot for eight hours straight in the beginning. I really wanted to cry sometimes.
Beck: But as the show developed, not only the ratings but the response by viewers became hot so I’m thinking you were able to keep encouraging each other to keep going.
Lee: Yes, the atmosphere on set got much better and as much of a hard time we had, I think that helped the staff and actors become very close. Some of the scenes even turned out better than we had thought we’d shot them so that helped us too. (laugh)
Beck: Your character Choi Hyun-wook in “Pasta” was completely different from your character in “The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince” through which you became most publicly known.
Lee: Everyone around me said that character was the closest to the real me. Although I don’t have a disposition that is as screwed up as his. (laugh) But I was at a bit of a loss about what to do in the beginning after receiving the script for “Pasta.” I couldn’t get a picture of what I should do. The Choi Hyun-wook that the scenarist had visioned was an unyielding, stiff soldier-like person but I had felt that he was actually more devilish during the first two episodes. He actually spoke quite a number of funny lines but they were expecting me to say them in a charismatic way so that was a bit frustrating. One thing for sure though, was that if Choi Hyun-wook, if I do not do well, the show would flop. When I look back on the situation it was in, my child was born on the first day of shoot, I had a bit of filming left for director Hong Sang-soo’s movie, I had to learn to cook, I wasn’t sure of my character and yet I didn’t have time. So I was quite sensitive in the beginning. I heard later on that Hyo-jin had been very scared of me. I’m not the friendly type and wasn’t in the mind to approach someone either.
Beck: Well before watching the show, I couldn’t quite picture you and her acting together.
Lee: I heard many people had been against it in the beginning. And once we actually went into shoot, Hyun-wook has a large energy and he is overly expressive so I was expecting Hyo-jin to play her part well too since she had been playing a lot of strong-willed character too. But rather, she took in everything which got me thinking she has a smaller energy than I thought. But when I watched the show on TV, I saw that the balance and pace that Hyo-jin had selected worked well with the drama. Unlike my acting which in the beginning was constrained, I realized that she doesn’t make any unnecessary moves. I realized a lot looking at her. Time-wise, it became much more comfortable to act with her after we got back from Uljin. That’s the first time we talked for a long time and drank. Before that, we just had no time to rest so we hadn’t even been able to eat together. According to Hyo-jin, she had wanted to approach me but felt uncomfortable because I would always give short answers.
Beck: But the characters you two portrayed was done so well that it made me almost think that you two are almost dating. The famous ‘eyelid kiss’ seemed like the producer had kept the camera rolling on purpose. It did well in delivering the fluttery feelings at the beginning of a relationship.
Lee: We had no rehearsal since our shooting schedule was so tight. We hadn’t rehearsed our lines together so we had no idea what would happen. With that scene too, somebody was supposed to cut but the camera kept rolling so I could see Hyo-jin’s face become increasingly red. That’s when we started playing weird jokes and I stared at her without blinking on purpose to make her face grow even more red.
Beck: I think you must have felt a satisfaction from playing your character Choi Hyun-wook who was always spitting out whatever comes to his mind.
Lee: The characters I had played in the past were more defensive than offensive but I think Choi was offensive till the very end. Now that I think about it, reporters would always emphasize how ‘romantic’ I am but it has changed now to ‘finicky.’ (laugh) I also referenced Gordon Ramsey character from “Hell’s Kitchen.” I hadn’t had much time to discuss my character with the producer because the casting for “Pasta” got set late and I went into shoot right after my appearance was set. One day though, the producer came up to me and showed me a Joker card from “Batman,” telling me that he wants Choi Hyun-wook to give off a similarly slightly crazy vibe. That’s when I told myself I would try and express myself in various ways and however I want. There was a lot of acting on impulse too.
Beck: Like what for example?
Lee: The chopsticks? I would try catching the opponents throat with it, or try hitting….. I had just tried it out but it ended up helping a lot. The producer was always carrying around chopsticks from then on. (laugh)
Beck: It seems that after watching “Pasta,” what viewers were thinking of the most was that they want to be in a romantic relationship. And of course, it would cause trouble (laugh) but some people were saying you and Kong might really end up going out.
Lee: [Kong] Hyo-jin said at the wrap-up party that when she does dramas, she feels that she’s in a relationship and that she’s cheating on her boyfriend, so she hated it a lot when I would show her photographs of my son. (laugh) I myself was showing her sort of an intimacy by showing her those photos though. But I have definitely become more cautious about how I treat actresses now compared to before I was married.
Beck: The chef is someone who is in charge of the kitchen so I think you must have also felt the burden to take charge of the set too.
Lee: Yes, it felt like I was constantly in a battle up against 10 people. Even more so when I’m in the kitchen because I’m the one talking 90 percent of the time. I also had a lot of lines so I had to act them out well but even when the camera is shooting the other actors, I would still be acting out my part. Of course it’s the basic manner between actors but they could’ve been pressured to do the same for me too. But I got increasingly worn out because I was doing it up against 10 people. There wasn’t a single cut where I could take a break. But I also really wanted to keep it that way till the end.
Beck: I think that’s why in the last episode, when you gaze with a content smile at the people in the kitchen, I also saw a relieved Lee Sun-kyun’s face overlap.
Lee: Ah, I was reading that scene in the script when I started tearing. I don’t know why. Maybe I was tired? I read it about four times and I think I cried every time. I couldn’t cry on the actual day of the shoot though, even when I wanted to. We started shooting the last episode on the day it was going on air, starting at 2 a.m. I didn’t want the show to fall through so I was just begging that nobody makes a blooper. (laugh)