Updated June. 24, 2005 05:54
The actor Park Joong-hoon has turned forty this year. Despite his youthful vigor, hes now over the hill. In the virtual history movie Heavens Soldiers set to premiere on July 15, he will play Admiral Yi Sun-shin. Kim Seung-woo (36), who plays the part of North Korean sergeant Kang Min-gil, is a happy newlywed. Its been six years since the two actors have become the kind of friends who meet, drink all night, and say goodbye with the morning sun behind them. Park Joong-hoon has acted as Kim Seung-woos mentor since the latters divorce in 2000. The two actors met on June 16 at a café in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam, Seoul on June 16, and talked about life, movies, and friendship.
On Aging and Acting-
Park Joong-hoon: Turning forty was a shock. It feels strange. During the past couple of years, Ive turned forty, celebrated the twentieth anniversary of my acting career, celebrated the tenth year of my marriage, and seen my eldest become a teenager.
Kim Seung-woo: You follow your path meticulously. But youve started recognizing and expressing the right path for forty-somethings to take. For me turning thirty was a shock. I never thought it would happen. I wanted to be careful, but I havent even been that careful after all.
Park: I changed my living pattern a lot this year. Since January 1, Ive quit drinking, and my depth of empathy and patience has also increased during the past six months. Its embarrassing to say this about myself, but Ive become more of a family man.
Kim: I dont think its because you meet your colleagues less often or because youve quit drinking. When we meet you always talk about family and home.
Park: I didnt know that.
Kim: Actually, I decided to take the part in Heavens Soldiers because of you. But it wasnt a role I was used to, so it was a bit of a pressure. Director Min Joon-ki told me that the name Kang Min-gil derives from the phrase the path of strong people, which is how I came to understand the role.
Park: I dont think Ive made any novel discoveries by acting in this movie, but I think Ive adjusted to the level that the movie was aiming at. Actors that have been on the screen for a long time are rarely told that they act well unless they really make an impact on the audience. New actors are like strikers in the soccer field; if you score a goal youre a hero, but older actors are more like Hong Myung-bo. If you support the team well, its something thats taken for granted, but its hard to actually score a goal.
Kim: In this movie, you, I, Hwang Jung-min (cast in the role of South Korean sergeant Park Jung-woo), and Gong Hyo-jin (playing the nuclear physicist Kim Soo-yeon) were all fantastic in terms of team play.
Park: I think Jung-min acts well. But you? When you act you have to have a sense of mystery. But I know you too well, and when I look at you I can see what youre feeling. You probably feel the same way about me, too. You act well, but I cant really tell, you see. Its not that you dont act well. Maybe Choi Min-sik from Old Boy might shock even those familiar to his acting style. But I dont know about Heavens Soldiers. I really dont. I dont know what our viewers think nowadays. Working in this field longer somehow confuses me more. Maybe its because I have more thoughts in my head. Strange.
A Sense of Balance, All of One Mind-
Kim: Last year, we were drinking together till dawn and finally parted ways, but you called me at around 11:00 in the morning. After this and that you said that I looked unstable, that I needed stability in my life. After the conversation I was in a daze the whole day. I didnt think of remarrying up till then. It was at that moment that I realized that to become a good actor I needed stability in my life.
Park: After that decision you seemed much more comfortable with yourself. Youre a bit hypersensitive. When youre in distress you cant overcome it and you begin panicking. Of course artists should have an element of distress in order to produce a work of art, but you were just destroying yourself. You were past your mid-thirties, but you werent married and you had too many thoughts to yourself, so thats why I suggested that you marry someone that would understand you. I was so happy to hear that you decided to get married. I was happy to hear that you plan to have a baby soon.
Kim: Youre the center of Korean male actors. Four, five years ago you set up a group of Korean male actors, with yourself as the focal point. If it wasnt for you, who else could have done it?
Park: I have a long resume when you take my age into account. Im the last generation from the period when Chungmuro was where movies were at. Ahn Seong-gi started relatively late in age, while I started early, so thats why we overlap a lot, but actors of my age like Song Kang-ho, Seol Gyung-gu or Han Seok-gyu started ten years later than I did, so we dont share much. It would be an exaggeration to say Im lonely, but I was a little confused at times. The part where we all agreed upon was Its all good and all, but arent we just too lonely.
Kim: I like the year-end parties that weve been having since 2000.
Park: Yeah, Shin Hyun-joon, Jang Dong-gun, Jung Woo-sung, and even Jo In-sung and Kang Dong-won joins us. It was fun teasing In-sung and Dong-won, telling them to judge the acting skills of Ahn Seong-gi, Choi Min-sik, and Seol Gyung-gu.
Kim: People dont know that actors dont get together much and that theyre not that close with one another. Thats why we should set up a bronze statue of Park Joong-hoon next to Na Un-gyu.
Park: Hey, I said that was a joke.