LEE Byung-hun in Masquerade
is playful rather than serious. He plays a funny role for the first time in a long time as he stars in Masquerade
. He may look to have gone too far now and then in the film, but what he really wants from viewers is to show them ‘something new’.
- Responses have been favorable since it started running. How do you feel?
I was at the press preview and saw reporters laughing when they are supposedly watching serious scenes. I thought there was something wrong then, so I felt very nervous. At some scenes, they even clapped laughing out loud, which made me angry thinking they were so rude to laugh at the film. I felt devastated and hid in the restroom. Later I figured out that I misunderstood them. They were actually enjoying the film, not laughing at it.
- As far as I know, you were suggested with the role while you were working on G. I. Joe 2 in the States.
I was very busy shooting the film, so I couldn’t quickly make an important decision. I certainly like the scenario of Masquerade. I usually have the feeling if fit the role or not as soon as I read a scenario. However, I couldn’t connect myself to the role in this film. I thought ‘how could I possibly...?’. There seemed to be a lot of things to prepare in advance and most of all, I was not sure if I could act the funny character. In the mean time, I heard the representative of the production company and the director were going to visit me. I’m not a type of person who can easily turn down a favor in front of one’s face. So I wished they wouldn’t come.
- What held you back so hard?
Regardless of the light personality of Ha-sun, I simply found the character itself hard enough. When I decide to play a character, I have to sense something else than what’s explicit in the scenario. But I couldn’t find any bit of it from Ha-sun. Repeating the same acting over and over would obstacle my progress as an actor. Those who know me very well would go “I’ve seen it already. He is the same every time.” So I was eager to find something, but I couldn’t from the scenario.
- In a way, you played almost a triple role, so you must have been confused.
That’s right. It was a triple role after all. I had to play Gwanghae and Ha-sun as well as Ha-sun mimicking Gwanghae and in the end acting like a real king. I thought hard how I could make it look reasonable to audiences. This film is peculiar. While it has a factor of a serious human drama, it swings between a slapstick comedy and a sophisticated comedy at the same time. I thought it had to be produced delicately to be loved by audiences.
- The comical setting of the film is quite unique. How would you describe the director CHOO Chang-min?
He thinks he is funny, but he isn’t. Before shooting starts, he always said, “I know what comedy film is like. Don’t worry about it.” I wondered what made him so confident, but he proved it himself when it came down to producing. Meanwhile, he didn’t forget to keep the dramatic element of it.
- What kind of person did you see Ha-sun as?
He is a normal person we can see around in everyday life. He is obsessed with something very minor, alternates his feelings very easily, weeps or smiles every now and then and acts frivolously. I thought of some ordinary guy we can find wherever and whenever and who I can melt myself into at ease. On the other hand, it confused me when acting him because he was too plain. Such a petit bourgeois man has to turn brave in a critical situation he thinks he might die. I thought to myself if it was cinematically reasonable. I was not sure if it would look logical to audiences that he suddenly shows off his potential.
- At the end of the film, how do you think Gwanghae would have felt?
He was tyrant at times, but also had innovative political mind-set. So has been reinterpreted recently. When acting him reading his own trace for 15 days earlier, I even felt sorry for him and thought ‘why he had to fall into such a situation’. I was also careful not to lose decisiveness and conservativeness then. In my opinion, he definitely would have regretted about himself for having been cruel to the public and cowardly as a king.
- It seems that this is a chance for you to become more friendly with your fans.
I will be really happy as an actor if the audiences are surprised thinking ‘Is that really him? Was he a type of actor who can act like that?’. I can probably be on a comedy show to change my image, but I prefer doing so in a film since I’m an actor.
- You starred in G. I. Joe, but my expectations are higher for Red 2 because you will play the leading role in it.
I feel the same way. I’m very honored because this is like once-in-a-lifetime chance for me to work with those great actors. Bruce WILLIS, John MALKOVICH and Catherine Zeta JONES are my colleagues. Another actor who recently join us is the great Anthony HOPKINS! I might have to spend the whole time doing errands for them such as delivering coffee. Even so, I can learn a lot from them about acting.