Kim Tae-hee on Controversy over Her Acting Skills

▲Actress Kim Tae-hee, who plays an intelligence agency profiler in the KBS TV2 drama "IRIS"

Actress Kim Tae-hee, 29, is frank and simple. But despite her modest personality, she easily speaks her heart. She was upfront and honest in her interview and didn't try to avoid "uncomfortable" subjects.

We met with Kim on the filming set of "IRIS" in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. Her enchanting beauty shined even when she was wearing black attire. In "IRIS", Kim plays top profiler Choi Seung-hee, who is in love with her coworker, Kim Hyung-joon, who is played by Lee Byung-hun. In the November 5 episode, Kim received praise for her excellent portrayal of her character accepting Hyun-joon's death. "I'm not sure if I am brave enough to go through hardships that love can present, but I would want to be in the relationship that we filmed in Japan. During the shoot, I envied Seung-hee a lot", said Kim, smiling.

--The viewer ratings for "IRIS" have surpassed 30 percent...

▲I'm very glad about that. When I watch this drama, I can say for sure that its scale and filming techniques are profoundly different from other dramas. It's like a movie. In the beginning, I didn't realize the magnificence of its action scenes because I appeared in very few of them. I just tried my best not to damage its reputation. But now I can see how impressive it is (laughs).

--Your acting opposite Lee Byung-hun made headlines, especially for the bedroom scene...

▲I'm glad to hear that viewers liked it. Lee Byung-hun contributed many ideas on how to make our love scenes more romantic. It was his idea to shoot the kissing scene where he passes a candy from his mouth into mine, as well as the scene where Seung-hee caresses Hyun-joon's leg under the table during a meeting. But it was my idea that Hyun-joon "handcuffs" my leg during that scene (laughs). I thought there would be something different in the way our characters date, because they are both spies. We filmed the bedroom scene in a comfortable mood. I was wearing a sleeveless top and all we did was just kissing. So it wasn't a lot of pressure. The scene where we stand on a terrace wrapped in a blanket also looked beautiful, but in fact we wearing layers of clothes underneath because it was too cold (laughs). To me, it was a bigger challenge to act in the scene where I slap Hyun-joon after he kisses me.

--Though Seung-hee is an elite spy, she appears mostly in romantic scenes...

▲It was my choice. Other actors look good as spies, but my looks are relatively too soft for a spy. I thought it would be strange if I appeared as a cool-headed agent all the time. I thought that melodrama was my calling (laughs). People think of me as a smart and staunch person, but in reality I am very clumsy and vulnerable. It all shows in acting. So I couldn't just portray an intelligent and shrewd spy all the time.

--How was it acting in action scenes?

▲I wish I could do better. In the beginning, I wanted to look strong, but as we were shooting action scenes, I got injured often. In the scene where I fight with Seon-hwa (played by Kim So-yeon), I wish I could portray it more fiercely. But I like the action scene that will be shown in episode 10. In that scene, I have a standoff with a terrorist who is played by a very tall guy. So I beat him with all my might. After the shoot, he complained of pain. I was so sorry that I bought him dinner. My whole body was bruised because of action scenes but once the shoot is over, it feels very fulfilling. Maybe I'm a pervert... (laughs) Firing a gun is more difficult, because I'm scared even by the sound of a bursting balloon. Shooting gun-firing scenes was difficult for me, as was portraying a cool gal as well. I should've played with toy guns when I was little (laughs). Lee Byung-hun's acting is perfect.

--What is Seung-hee going through at this point?

▲She accepts Hyun-joon's death but she refuses to forget him easily. She has become more mature after everything she has been through but she is still Hyun-joon's girl. She is just trying to rise back on her feet. She know what Sa-woo (played by Chung Jun-ho) feels for her but she is not ready yet to open up her heart to someone else. But nobody knows how these three will end up later.

--Seung-hee is torn by love, but she is a very confident person. What about you?

▲I am not that confident. People say that I look like I can have anything in the world and that I have nothing to worry about. But that's nonsense. I also have my shortcomings and worries. Since I started acting, I found myself worried about my future many times. I felt frustrated and lost. Acting is still a big challenge to me, and I'm very worried about that. I must continue to try and work hard. Malicious rumors about me don't upset me that much, because they are groundless. But I'm hurt most when people speak negatively about my acting skills. I also admit that. But I want to escape from frustration and anxiety through "IRIS" and I earnestly hope that it will be a turning point in my acting career.

--You seem to be too fragile for a top star...

▲Star? I don't know about that. I don't think that one can receive recognition for their image or looks. To me, negative things look larger than positive ones. I am very sensitive to criticism. Plus, being good-looking is not an advantage in acting. Even small moves that I make look bigger, making people think that I got carried away. My mouth is also my shortcoming because it's protruding and always stays open. I tried to correct it through surgery but it didn't help. My doctor did his best to push my mouth back but he said that was the most he could do (laughs). In "IRIS" Seung-hee is a woman who captivates the hearts of Hyun-joon and Sa-woo at first sight, so I was worried that I might not look pretty enough. Even if I look pretty in TV commercials, because they made me look pretty, I might look less beautiful in TV dramas.

--Your future plans...

▲I debuted as a TV commercial actress at age 21 and a TV actress at 23. It's amazing how time flies. I wanted to keep myself busy but it feels that I haven't achieved much so far. I want to focus on acting and discover my hidden talents. So far, I felt frustrated many times because I was unprepared when I started acting, but now I just want to look ahead.
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