From here on out, strong-ratings drama Personal Taste will be showing greater character growth and development – particularly for Son Ye Jin‘s character. The interview has a few spoilers in it for those who don’t watch it or haven’t started yet, but it also has the actors Lee Min Ho and Son discussing their characters and how their image as actors have changed.
The drama has been performing quite consistently, even though Cinderella’s Sister has been busting all other dramas’ asses ever since its premiere. Cinderella’s Sister’s ratings went down a percent this past week from Wednesday to Thursday, but had its highest overall rating ever. Personal Taste has been rising in the 10-13 percent range, while Prosecutor Princess has maintained a low 10% rating (*sob!*).
I’ll keep the plot spoilers to the end, so that others may read the actors’ responses without seeing the spoilers even peripherally!
Q: There must have been a lot of interesting occurences because there are a lot of comical scenes in the show.
Son Ye Jin (Son): There are a lot of comic-like elements and the drama itself is funny. Gae-in is a character who uses large movements and expressions, just like someone from a comic book, but Jin-ho is the typical silent and dry guy. So Lee wasn’t too sure of how to express how his character responds to a sloppy woman. He would actually want to play along but can’t and instead maintain his character’s tone. So I crack myself up, at my own acting by making bloopers, and the acting by the supporting actors is so great that I never stop laughing. We all have great chemistry.
Lee Min Ho (Lee): I too want to laugh while showing my teeth but there aren’t any scenes I can do that so it’s tough.
Q: Jin-ho is someone who shows different sides to him depending on who he is with. When is it most difficult to play his role?
Lee: It’s easiest when I’m with character Sang-joon (played by Jung Sung-hwa) because I can just let go but I still feel a bit uncomfortable showing him working. I need to show that he’s professional and hard-working but I think I myself just lack in that aspect. I was also concerned over how to set my character’s tone for when he is with Gae-in because I was worried I would ruin the character by reacting too much too her. I think that the more memories I make with Gae-in, the more comfortable it’ll become.
Q: Son, you have to ruin your image a lot to play the role of Gae-in. How have people around you responded to this?
Son: I don’t actively seek out responses from people while working on a role. The head of my agency was quite worried to begin with (laugh) and there were even some people who said they didn’t know I was Gae-in after the first episode went out. I perceived Gae-in as someone who is a complete fool when it comes to dating, is very dirty and can’t do anything. I thought of her as an outsider and egoist, unlike the large house she lives in, and with many otaku-like qualities so I came up with the exaggerated set-ups such as her wearing horn-rimmed glasses and pinning her hoodie behind her ears. Some people responded by asking if it was really necessary to go that far but I wanted her to be different from any other characters seen in dramas so far, so I wanted her to look like a girl who hasn’t washed her feet for a week and someone who wears the same clothes for going to bed and everyday life. Making the drama fun for viewers is important but I think you’ll increasingly be able to feel more sincerity and reality as Gae-in’s wounds emerge.
Q: Lee, you too gained a lot of attention by ruining your image in the diarrhea scene.
Lee: I was very embarrassed because it was the first time I’d taken off my pants in front of so many people.
Q: What meaning does “Personal Taste” have to you, Lee?
Lee: It’s significant to me in many ways because it’s the first role I’ve taken on after “Boys Over Flowers” and the first time I’ve taken on an adult character. I think this drama will be a show where I can show my potential to grow while also serving as the basis to me playing new roles in the future.
Q: Son, you’ve changed 180 degrees from the role you played in your previous film “White Knight.”
Son: That’s why I took on this drama. Actors act with their heart for a role so I was very depressed and had a hard time after filming “White Knight.” That’s why I told myself that I should take on a role that fits my age, is fun and one that I would have fun with on set. I’m the same age as my character Gae-in, 29, so I wanted to enjoy the last of my twenties by doing something more fun and young.
Q: Son Ye-jin, you are Lee Min-ho’s senior in the acting industry. Do you act as his acting teacher too?
Son: He actually disregards me. He’ll say, “It doesn’t matter if I do it like this.” (laugh)
Lee: This is a drama where chemistry between us is very important. That’s why I dare to speak my mind and it helps a lot that she really listens to my opinions. She’s amazing when it comes to interpreting situations she’ll also help me realize things that I hadn’t thought of so that’s when I think she’s a great actress.
Son: Lee’s greatest strength is that he is optimistic. When I worry that our ratings aren’t as good as I thought they would be, he’ll tell me that everything will be okay. And actors usually become very frustrated when their lines and directing don’t go the way they want it to but Lee is good at letting go and organizing his thoughts in such situations. I too am the type that grumbles to myself. He is an actor with more potential for growth. I usually work with actors who are more than 10 years older than me, it’s the first time I’m working with someone like Lee who is several years younger, so it feels quite weird and fun. I think there’s a lot of synergy that comes from people my age.
Lee: I have a lot of fun on set. Son treats me like she’s my older sister, not my senior actor, and the guys are so funny that I’m busy laughing when I’m on set.
Q: What do you think you would do if people mistook you as being gay?
Lee: I think I would tell them straight up that I’m not. Unlike my character Jin-ho, I think there would be no other choice for me other than just saying that I’m not.
Q: What sort of response are you expecting for through the drama?
Son: Nothing grand. I had just thought that I would have fun with the drama. Acting-wise, of course I always want to be considered good. I hope Gae-in will develop from a character who needs protection to someone who is rooted for while showing the process of how she matures.
Lee: I had been worried because the image of my character Gu Joon-pyo from “Boys Over Flowers” had embedded so deeply in people’s minds. Rather than showing that I’m clearly a great actor, I think I’ll have succeeded even if people say that I’ve matured and that they don’t see Gu Joon-pyo in me anymore. I want to give off the feeling that I’m playing a realistic character who is likely to exist in everyday life rather than be greedy to change my acting.
And here are the spoiler-y bits of the interview:
You have been warned!
Q: We heard you’ll shoot a kissing scene today. Is there anything you prepared in particular for it or expect of?
Lee: I prepared mint candy for the scene.
Son: It’s where the melodrama element to the show starts to surface, the episode where the two suddenly become an item while in the process of becoming friends. A slightly drunk Jin-ho kisses Gae-in who is consoling him.
Lee: To put it more correctly, it’s not a kiss but a peck.
Q: Gae-in, you wear a lot of unique clothes. Do you engage in the styling too?
Son: I even wear a lot of my own clothes too. (laugh) When I’m studying a character, I usually imagine what they would wear or their hairstyle, and I’ve been using a lot of the unique items I had been collecting. The red parka wiht flowers in the third episode was what my mom bought from Daegu. I’d thought to myself that I would never be able to wear it but who would’ve known I would wear it here! (laugh) I bought the scarf from Japan because it was so unique. I’m glad I can use my own items for the show.
Q: You’re becoming increasingly pretty. Your hairstyle has changed too.
Son: I had looked raggedy and my hairstyle was the best (laugh) but I’ve become feminine. Jin-ho takes Gae-in to a party at the end of the fifth episode to show her off to Chang-ryul (played by Kim Ji-suk). That’s when she changes and changes up her hairstyle too. And Gae-in doesn’t become feminine all of a sudden but I think she is slowly discovering her identity as a woman.