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Actor Song Joong-ki still hungry for new movie roles

Oct 12, 2023
  • Source by Yonhap
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"I wanted to join the project but worried that my paycheck could increase the total production costs"


When opportunity doesn't knock, Korean heartthrob Song Joong-ki is ready to build a door. 


Song's star power has proved itself in several hit drama series, including Reborn Rich (2022), Vincenzo (2021), Arthdal Chronicles (2019) and Descendants of the Sun (2016), but his film career has been relatively underrated.


Following the Netflix sci-fi film Space Sweepers (2021), Song was looking for roles opposite from what he is known for and volunteered to play a gang member in the crime film Hopeless, written and directed by Kim Chang-hoon.


In a group media interview, the 38-year-old said he loved the dark, dangerous feel of the noir film and the strong but fragile character not central to the plot.



Actor Song Joong-ki of Korean crime film "Hopeless" is seen in this photo provided by his agency High Zium Studio. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 




He played a mid-level boss role without paychecks and the experience was rewarding. He walked the red carpet in this year's Cannes Film Festival for the first time in his 15-year acting career. Screened in the Un Certain Regard section, which presents unusual styles and non-traditional stories, the film received cheers and a standing ovation from a big crowd for four minutes.


Song said the film's grim subject of domestic violence and the ambiguous message may have captured European audiences, but he was not sure whether it could resonate with general audiences at home.


​Hopeless tells the story of a 17-year-old boy (Hong Xa-bin) who suffers domestic violence and school bullies and ends up joining a local gang. Song plays Chi-geon, the big boss' henchman who has a painful history of suffering domestic violence and sympathizes with the teenager's pain.


"Hopeless is not a kind movie. I am wondering how general audiences would view it. Whether it is a compliment or criticism, I am ready to take it," Song said during the interview on Monday, ahead of its domestic release on Oct. 11.


Like his favorite saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss, Song said he wants to keep tackling new challenges to unleash his potential as an actor.


"I am still hungry for roles in diverse genres. I have a strong desire for it," Song said. "These days, I try to perform more naturally. There is still room for improvement. I'm just giving it a try."




A scene from Korean crime film "Hopeless" is seen in this photo provided by its distributor Plus M Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)




After starring in a series of commercially successful TV drama series, Song was looking for much-needed inspiration and came across the script at the right time.


And his goal for the movie known to have a budget of 4 billion won (US$2.9 million) was humble: passing the break-even point.


"I wanted to join the project but worried that my paycheck could increase the total production costs," he said. "I didn't want the film to include sequences that follow commercial films' formulas, such as car chases, because they don't align with the story's underlying sentiment. I wanted to keep the film's charm intact."


In the movie, Chi-geon has a noticeable hook injury on his ear, indicating his suffering from domestic violence from his alcoholic father at an early age.


"When I put on the special makeup on my ear, I felt different," Song said. "I have a scar on my cheek. My makeup for past works focused on concealing the scar but for this film, I focused on highlighting it instead."



A scene from Korean crime film "Hopeless" is seen in this photo provided by its distributor Plus M Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



Currently, the Netflix original film "My Name is Loh Kiwan," in which he played a North Korean defector character, is in the post-production stage and is expected to be released next year.


Song said he has auditioned for several roles abroad over the past years to no avail but remained hopeful about his dream amid growing interest in Korean actors in the global market.


"I want to experience working under different cultures and systems. Thanks to stellar performances by established Korean actors, more people are looking for actors for Asian characters," he said.


Outside of the big screen, this year was another critical turning point for him.


Song married former British actress Katy Louise Saunders in January and fathered a son in June. He has stayed in Rome, his wife's hometown, until recently for parenting.


Song beamed as he showed a video clip of his son on his smartphone but confessed he is still learning to become a father.


With a newborn, the couple hasn't had the luxury of spending a few hours together to watch a movie, let alone "Hopeless."


"As new parents, we haven't been able to sit together and watch a movie," he said. "It is a new experience. We will watch it together when we have enough time."


By Kim Eun-jung 

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