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Lee Byung-hun, "I am nervous every time I work... I want to be a good actor"

2015/11/04 | 1066 views | Permalink | Source

It's been a long time. Lee Byung-hun sat down saying, "I'm looking forward to it".

There has been a lot going on. Last year, Lee Byung-hun was blackmailed of 500 million won by two young women who had a video of him. This story was fully revealed and affected his image as an actor. He became a father in March but he couldn't express how happy he was. Then his fourth Hollywood movie "Terminator: Genisys" was released and so was "Memories of the Sword" although he only showed his face every now and then.

Finally, he's having an interview for the movie "Inside Men" which is coming out this 19th. He filmed the movie while he was going through tough times. In this heavy subjected yet speedy political drama, he plays the role of Ahn Sang-goo, a political gangster who used to be a chairman at once but was betrayed to the ground and is out for revenge.

The first edited version of the movie was 3 hours and 40 minutes long but it was shortened to 2 hours and 10 minutes. However, Lee Byung-hun's every expression and line makes up for the edited parts of the movie.

Lee Byung-hun opened his mouth saying, "I tried my best to make sure no harm was done to anyone of the staff or producers because of me. I thought the best thing I could do was just do my best in everything I had".

"Inner struggles? Acting is my job, although I had to work harder so that those around me wouldn't get hurt. A way to overcome negativity is just doing what I do best".

He answered shortly about being a father. "I realize my acting has become better now that I'm a father; I can't really tell what else is different, although I feel a bigger weight on my shoulders".

In "Inside Men", young gangster Ahn Sang-goo stands out of the gang and holds hands with the chief editor of a newspaper company and becomes successful until he is betrayed and goes downhill. Lee Byung-hun's diverse visual and Jeolla dialect is something new like never seen before. He sets out for revenge but it's different from "A Bittersweet Life" which is closer to fantasy.

"The situations according to the characters, fashion, hairstyle and time are extremely different and far apart from each other. Change in emotions and change in style is something I have to keep in mind when I act. However, there's one thing I tried emotionally. A gangster is a gangster no matter what the situation. I kept that in my mind at the same time I was changing according to the time".

Reviews call him the 'fashionable gangster'. The part where Ahn Sang-goo flips back his chin-length curly hair is impressive. The hairstyle was producer Woo Min-ho's idea to complete the look. He convinced Lee Byung-hun to do it and Lee Byung-hun thought it would be fun. It was also like being Robert De Niro from "Cape Fear".

"In the scene where the past is edited like composites, different images of Ahn Sang-goo are in there to explain him. The curly hair is what I asked for. The sauna scene also had some lines but the editing helps to imagine more than that. How do I see myself so broken like that? I like it. I like it that I'm doing something new. If I think that would fit the situation then I'm happy to do it. I have seen my regular self too long and I don't know how much more time I have to do this. If I feel something anew about my character then that's good enough for me".

Not only is it the first time he's attempted at a new style, but he also spoke differently. He said, "I was under pressure about this and I worried it might distract me from my acting". Even though the producer said he didn't have to do it, Lee Byung-hun got lessons from a theater actor who was from the Jeolla district. The result? The details are amazing and it's a surprise he didn't do it before.

It's also impressive that he lost his right hand and carried around a false one. The scene where he boils noodles on the roof of a building and twirls the noodles in his hand with the chopstick to eat it, is almost inspiring. Lee Byung-hun who is right-handed, found that uncomfortable. He practiced using the chopsticks as there were many scenes with noodles, but in the end he figured being sloppy was also very Ahn Sang-goo-like. Everyone laughed so much that there were several NGs and Lee Byung-hun himself had to suppress his laughter. "It was funny but the most miserable scene. The time Ahn Sang-goo ate noodles on the roof with a bottle of Soju was the happiest moments of his life".

Of course "Inside Men" isn't just about Lee Byung-hun. Other major casts are Cho Seung-woo, Baek Yoon-sik, Lee Kyung-young, Kim Hong-pa, Bae Sung-woo, Jo Jae-yun, Kim Dae-myung, Kim Byung-ok, Jung Man-sik, Lee El and others. Lee Byung-hun said, "I was surprised to see the rough cut. There was no line between main and supporting actors. Everyone was fighting for their own rights".

The intense fight with investigator Cho Seung-woo, is something that will never be forgotten about the movie. Cho Seung-woo is in reality 10 years younger than Lee Byung-hun but he referred to Lee Byung-hun as 'the gangster' in the movie. Lee Byung-hun also used harsh nicknames when referring to the investigator. Most of them were ad-lib.

"Cho Seung-woo has so many successful movies. I always thought he was a good actor, but after working with him I realized he is no ordinary actor. He's good. So I was surprised and I am glad to know him as a friend. 'The gangster' wasn't in the script but he used it and I followed along. I would think how Ahn Sang-goo would deal with situations like this or like that and I would make that work to fit the situation. I wonder if there is any other movie with as many ad-lib as this".

He experienced something else with Baek Yoon-sik who is the chief editor that brought Ahn Sang-goo to the ground. "Usually people read and practice the script with certain emotions but he reacts in a completely different manner. I am sometimes taken aback and don't know how to react to him. I wondered what was wrong with him in the beginning, but now I know that's his strong point. It something I can never outdo him of".

"Inside Men" is full of ideas from Lee Byung-hun. In the scene where the characters have a conversation in a motel with a translucent glass in the middle, it was his idea to have the glass there. It was also his idea to use a van instead of a car. In the scene where Ahn Sang-goo is leaning on his car with a neck pillow, the neck pillow is really his. "I suggested this scene to the producer to make it seem more lazy and relaxed".

Will it take time for Lee Byung-hun to be recognized as an actor and not a scandal-maker? It all depends on the crowd. Does he feel pressure with the release coming up soon? "That goes for any movie. Pressure and anxiety always follows me around".

Ahn Sang-goo is asked by a prosecutor how he would like to be remembered in the future. His answer leaves inspiration so we asked Lee Byung-hun the same question.

"As always, I want to be remembered as a good actor".

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