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2019 Cine 21 January Issue Interview

Doh Kyungsoo is an actor who always worry on when he should be laughing, since fundamentally he’s not the type that would laugh out loud. He started his first acting experience through the movie ‘Cart’ (2014), where he acted as Taeyoung, a quiet part-time student worker who expressionlessly scolded his sister Minyoung and whose mother Seonhee is caught up in problems in the form of an unfair dismissal. In the movie ‘Pure Love’ (2015) he acted as Beomsil, a boy who in the middle of a noisy group of friends is silently taking care of Suok and her disabled leg. While in ‘Brother’ (2016) he was a judo athlete who lost his seeing ability due to an accident and in ‘Room Number 7’ (2017) he was pressed to conceal drugs in order to earn money to pay for his student debt. It was on his first drama ‘100 Days Husband’ that we were graced with his smiling image, but his shining smile appeared when the romance in the drama has been progressed.

What’s interesting is that his calm face is almost the same as how he is like as an EXO member, making him holding a unique position in the group. For him, he doesn’t seems to be nervous on carrying the idol characteristics that is always smiling or being cheeky. Instead, he would silently observe from behind and fully understanding of the situation and in a timing that everyone would not expect, a laughter would break in his face. Like that, his quiet and serious persona is the reason why he has become a rookie actor who’s acknowledged in the industry. When the movie industry is looking for a youth character who’s sick but doesn’t show it directly, they start looking for Doh Kyungsoo. He who has started adding more and more acting experience as actor, has people on the extremes saying that “he’s more fit as an actor” or “it’d be nice if he gave up as an idol”, and in that moment, he appeared with ‘Swing Kids’ in a timely manner. In short, ‘Swing Kids’ is a movie that would make people who judged Doh Kyungsoo being in a loss of words. It’s a movie where he who is talented in singing and dancing, showed his dancing talent that he has acquired beforehand. And with his good acting skill and his origin from a dance-singer group, it made an impactful imprint. With this movie, it also serve as an answer to the worries of “aren’t you doing too much gloomy character”. In ‘Swing Kids’, he is a 19 year old north korean POW named Roh Kisoo who cannot hide is excitement after being charmed by tap dancing.

While he never received any acting lesson prior starring in ‘Cart’, Doh Kyungsoo is known for his distinctive eyes while acting. So Jaehyun PD from ‘100 Days Husband’ said “He is good in acting in a novel way. He’s not doing any big reactions or expressions but strangely, it fit well when the drama is being edited. He was born with that eyes”. We get to meet Doh Kyungsoo before the upcoming released of ‘Swing Kids’ and in this long interview, we feel that we’re hearing a lot of new stories instead of learning his attributes of the actors before him. Meet Doh Kyungsoo, a new type of actor.

Q. Firstly, let’s start by talking about ‘Swing Kids’. Roh Kisoo who’s turning up one’s collar is seems to be the most playful character out of your filmography.

A. I discussed a lot with the Director on what matched with Roh Kisoo. I looked at pictures of Kisoo’s period of time and it turns out the military uniforms back then are being worn crookedly with hip hop style-like puffed pants. This kind of style was the trend back then, so I’ve got many influence to draw the motif of the character from it.

Q. Roh Kisoo is a character that expressed his emotions through dance. As an actor, what is your experience in having this kind of project.
A. As an EXO members, the dance we did while on the stage is choreographed (by other people) and we are following it. But with Roh Kisoo, his movement and expression each carries on emotions so it was difficult. Especially in the scene where I’m dancing to David Bowie’s Modern Love, I have a lot of worries on how to do it so that the audience would feel delighted when watching it, so I recalled on the memories when I first learned how to dance. It was frustrating when my head remember it but my body doesn’t move that way, but it was a pleasant experience when I succeed each of the movement. Also, even though the Directors gave an entire instructions on the big emotions and the (dance) routines, he openly letting us naturally expresses our emotion so I danced as my heart wish. When I’m happy I danced in a big motion, and when I’m frustrated I danced in a fast motion. Honestly, I was very surprised when seeing the result of that sequence. I don’t know that I could smile brightly like that. I do feel the same emotion like that when I’m dancing as a singer but my smile came out naturally as I strongly felt how happy it is to dance.

Q. Since it wasn’t a calculated performance, you had to keep dancing and it must be difficult. It could be shown on your face so you have to be mindful of your facial expression. From other actors interviews, there are those who said that actors who knows how to dance would do better in acting on action scenes, but for you it seems like your activities as a singer helped you a lot in this.
A. When you’re inserting an expression while doing a movement that you’re not used to, it cannot be helped if that movement is done terribly, or the facial expression would be in disarray. That’s why like the ‘Modern love’ scene, where the emotions is important I’m doing a familiar movements. it is when your body is at the level of remembering the movement that you don’t have to think to create that movement, that you’re able to show emotions. And for your body to get used to those movements, there are no way beside practicing for many times. Also, there are many similarities in movement between dancing moves and acting on action scenes. So as I learned how to dance, I gained a lil bit of know-how on applying it to easily follow the movement (in action scenes).

Q. The atmosphere between the first half and second half of ‘Swing Kids’ is really different. As a leading actor you must be worried on having to grasp well the uneven tone of the movie.
A. I stored the entire flow (of the movie) inside my head, and there are parts when I’m anxious on whether Kisoo is going too far with his emotions. Such as when kisoo’s once-friend Kwangkuk (played by Lee David) came that the atmosphere become different. There’s this confrontation scene where Kisoo who is thinking about tap dancing by himself then had Kwangkuk in front of him who said “Comrade Kisoo, it seems like these days the US military doesn’t come here”. At that time if I acted in the way of showing that Kisoo is having a bad mood, the movie’s tone would be in disarray. In a speech scene, Kisoo character must not go too deep. That’s why in that scene I just acted expressionlessly.

Q. It seems like you originally had an influence in acting dryly
A. I always think like that. Why does the expression of being angry, is shown by screaming? I wonder about things like this because I never gotten angry like that. It is also because I’m the type that even if I’m having a mental battle, I wouldn’t let it caught up in my expression. Of course for people with other type of personality, acting in such way is right to express in being angry but for character like Roh Kisoo, I acted him on the basis of my personality.

Q. In ‘Swing Kids’ there are mixed scenes of long-take scenes and split-cut ones. Do you have any worries on how in the editing room they would connect the scenes but still keeping the rhythm alive?
A. Rather than worrying about it, I had fun. Because this is something I never did before. During long-take scenes I must not jump into other places so getting into the character is done nicely thus it was rather fun, and the scenes when Kisoo is thinking about tap dancing during his sleep it was cut in a tight way so I just acted like cut-cut-cut! and it was fun too, I’m really curious to see how the final product will be. Especially for the ‘Modern Love’ scenes, I didn’t have any practice together with (Park) Hyesoo and we filmed it separately, so I wanted to see how it would be after the cross-cut edit of each other had been done, and the end result was very satisfying (laughs).

Q. You leave many popular lines from the tvN drama ‘100 Days Husband’ such as “is it only me who’s uncomfortable?” “this feeling like feeling” and “this bastard is a bastard who won’t listen”. For comical lines like this, if you cannot process it wrongly than the entirety of the period drama could be taken lightly, but you did it well.
A. I just expressed it faithfully to the emotions and didn’t concern over and over on how should I process the line. In utilising a buzzword, the lighter you throw those lines the funnier it will be. However it does not fit the character of a crown prince who lost his memory. Honestly I do have some worries on how to speak these lines so that it will be heard more nicely but in the end the answer is to speak those lines like how my character would do. That’s how I adjust myself to do the lines.

Q. There’s this conventional way of thinking that for a TV Drama you should act that even if the public watched the drama carelessly, they would clearly know your character emotions. However you shown an acting that is contrasting to that in ‘100 Days Husband’, it was calm from start to finish. Such as when you’re looking at Hongshim, you didn’t throw her an overly friendly look.
A. I think I did it just as it is. I like reality. Of course a clear emotions should be shown but in terms of romance acting, the so-called ‘honey dropping from your eyes’ might be fluttering but the tendency is for the performance to be as natural as possible.

Q. Actor Sung Dongil once said in an interview that he act by thinking on how he and with his co-actors could make a 100 together. So if his opponent actor gave a 70 then he would give a 30. It also seems appropriate to use this for Kyungsoo-ssi during ‘Room Number 7’ or ‘Brother’. In ‘Room Number 7’ actor Shin Hakyun clearly acted bigger than Kyungsoo-ssi. While in ‘Brother’ with Actor Jo Jungseok, it seems like you’re more than him in every scenes.
A. I really relate with the words you just said. I think it’s appropriate to match the tone and manner, when there is someone that is rising the mood, at the opposite there need to be someone who can tone down too. Just like when someone who’s doing a big action, the people in front of it shall not give a bigger reaction. Moreover, when I’m acting together with Hakyun senior I would see his character and sensed it, and I also learned how jungseok’s hyung acting stye is like.

Q. You’re the type of person who is diligent and doesn’t like to stand out. I discovered that on ‘Room Number 7’ frame you would be always be moving on the back but not out of sight.
A. I discussed some part with the director but there are also things I filled on my own. In order not to become a hindrance to other actors I had to find a way to naturally act as the character, it’s always fun doing that. Actually I’m the type who’s always doing something even when if it’s only my finger that is caught on the camera angle or even when I’m not being captured at all.

Q. Among your filmography, you showed the most noticeable acting in the ‘Along With The God’ series and Director Lee Byunghyun webdrama ‘Be Positive. Especially in ‘Along With The God Part 2’, anyone can clearly see your acting as Private Won the special case soldier.
A. I thought of Won Dongyeon the special case soldier character as that who cannot be acted flatly, and so I did it like that on the screen. It was very difficult because I haven’t enlisted in the military yet nor able to relate to the guilt of having killed someone and the situation of hanging one’s own neck. Director Kim Yonghwa helped me a lot. He shared he his own experiences and we also discussed a lot about the characters. At this point, I think in other movies I’ve done a lot of work in which I have to express on such indirect experience.

Q. In your previous interviews, you said that Private Won in ‘Along With The God Part 2’ is the most pitiful figure you’ve ever acted until now and that there won’t be this kind of character in the future. It was interesting how you introduced to the journalist about the special case soldier who in the movie is an innocent person that killed a person in such a way that cannot be hated.
A. That’s right, it could be like that but…(eyesight asking for agreement) isn’t he’s very pitiful? honestly he didn’t do anything wrong, he did a mistake that killed a person but he cannot say it and keep it all inside. That situation is very pitiful. To some people he could be seen as badly but until now I personally think the most pitiful character is that like Won Dongyeon.

Q. Actually, the acting skill you shown in playing as Won Dongyeon on ‘Along With The God Part 2’ deserved its recognition but it was not a great character at all. Mistakenly, it could also be seen as the actor originally having that kind of impression. Before that, you also played as gloomy youth characters that are caught in society problems, but it seems like you don’t worry about that as an actor.
A. I don’t have any worry at all. All the characters I have played until now are not simply just gloomy characters but I always make an effort to ingrained something from inside myself while showing these different characters. As I keep trying new things, I think it could break the mindset of people who think like that.

Q. In that sense, ‘Swing Kids’ Roh Kisoo is an important turning point.
A. It really is, the things I couldn’t show until now, to me they’re precious character. I’m curious to see what I’m doing next. It’s very heart-pounding to wonder what kind of appearance I can show next time, to the audience and industry representatives.

Q. It is mentioned in a variety program that you do not like aegyo. I thought of hoping you’d come across a character that has a lot of aegyo (laughs).
A. If I was casted at that role I think I’d be fun, I wouldn’t hate it (laughs).

Q. During Naver’s ‘Actor & Chatter’ you’re being asked about doing a drama together with Kim Hyesoo who appeared in the show’s previous episode. You said of wanting to meet as a newbie employee and her as a team leader in the same company, and the genre you prefer would be human drama. The MC Park Kyunglim at that time asked “It’s not a romantic comedy? Kim Hyesoo’s thought might be different from yours” and your respond was “Me? how could I…” why do you think like that? since nothing is impossible.
A. How could that be done! I’d be honoured such project appear but would the chance exist.

Q. Or you could also play a character of someone who is receiving love and affection from a noona like Jung Haein in JTBC Drama ‘Pretty Noona Who Buy Me Food’.
A. That would be nice. I also want to do something like the drama ‘Secret Affair’. I’m looking forward to be in melodrama for my next work, and trying out thriller genre too.

Q. Now that I see it, you matched well with the psychopath character in ‘I Remember You’ too
A. Really? (laughs) that kind of character is good too, I really want to act as an ordinary people. Rather than wishing to try one specific character I want to try figures that are different from what I’ve done in the past.

Q. Your acting first exposed to the public through the drama ‘It’s Okay It’s Love’, and after ‘Cart’ it was your second acting experience. You acted as a lou gehrig patient who is having a seizure and before this you never received any acting lesson. I wonder how you prepared for that scene.
A. At that time I watched documentary and movies to indirectly experience it, I recall something from my memories and there are also some that I made from my imagination.

Q. You received a lot of help from Scriptwriter Noh Heekyung when you first learned about acting.
A. She shared many stories about the character and also helped me to speak in a staccato tone and parts that required some skill. I definitely wanted to do a drama with Scriptwriter Noh again in the future. I also really enjoyed the drama ‘Live’. I want to do an ordinary project like that, and among all of Scripwriter Noh’s work I like ‘The World Most Beautiful Goodbye’ the most, since there are many things I can relate to.

Q. After this, I wonder how actors that came from acting department and those who doesn’t go such general education prepare for their roles in the movie. Right now are you the type that’s closer to diligently researched about your character or are you the type that solved it inside on your own.
A. I look inside myself a lot. Of course for things that I do not experience I did research through the documents and found the connection point but the step after that is how I imagined a lot on my own. While looking at the props on the filming set I’d wonder at that time too but for the character emotions and the entire direction, I imagined it inside my head. As I keep thinking about how the character would act or speak, it would follow naturally to when I’m in the filming set. That’s how I’ve been doing until now.

Q. There are actors who would wrote a diary entry as your character, or made a memoir depicting their character’s entire life or making a thorough acting note.
A. Um, I don’t write memo but I think inside my head. I’m a person who prefer the scenario to be clean so it doesn’t feel thick so I always just looking at the scenario and store it inside my head. My memorising skills isn’t good but if I memorised it too clearly I think it would be more complicated when I act. Usually I would do a simulation inside my head and the concentrate when I’m going to the filming set, it’s more comfortable this way.

Q. In ‘Cart’ when you have to get anrgy at your mother, didn’t you say it was very difficult? At that time how do you prepare to acted that way and if you’re meeting the same situation now, how would it be?
A. At that time I did a simulation in my head only and I didn’t try it myself. I just did it on the filming set. I couldn’t just be angry on my own. In that situation the other part must exist for me to act that way, if I practiced acting angry while I’m alone in my room or if I practice by asking my members to become my acting counterpart I would be too shy that I won’t be able to do it (laughs).

Q. It seems like you’re the type that would just go and execute on the filming set.
A. Until now I’ve never screamed out loud in reality. During ‘Cart’ my mind was like “this (screaming while crying) scene, let’s just do it on the set” and when I acted it, in real life I was very relieved. An immense pleasure came to me when I’m gaining the feelings I’ve never felt and never experienced.

Q. It came to mind how the directors that took part in your filmography is loving your eyes. Do you have any special concern over parts where the directors are shooting a close up and focusing on one’s eyes or when you had to act in carrying an emotion in your eyes.
A. Um…(wondering for a while), no I do not. I just stayed faithfully to the characters. Rather than doing that, originally my eyes is quite weak. When I’m low in immune or when my eyes are being exposed to UV rays, my eyes could get dry and bloodshot. If I blink when I’m filming emotional scenes, it could disturb the audience, so I took great care of my health. Actually my sight is really not good, I couldn’t see well when I’m monitoring at the filming set, so when I’m wearing glasses and see how the result is on the screen, it is when I could observe myself clearly for the first time. When I’m monitoring important scenes I would look very closely at the monitor to see my motions. And I couldn’t wear contact lenses too. Different from other people, my cornea surface is not round but it’s angled. If I wear lenses it would be pushed by my eyelid and the lenses would go down so I wear glasses.

Q. The EXO members who live at the dorm together with you are also doing acting activities, it must have provide some relief to you.
A. Rather than relief, I was closer to be thankful towards their support. We do not talk about acting between each other. Just like I said earlier because it’s embarrassing to practice acting with other members so I didn’t do it.

Q. Do you ever talk bitter with one another?
A. I don’t, the members once pointed about my posture that is bent but from my side or the members side we never gave any advice about acting. As an actor I’m not their senior and we’re coworkers in the same boat so how could I say things about that (laughs).

Q. There’s this bias in defining masculinity- that someone with a big posture could carry everyone, and such there are people who talk about how that type of actor would match well with a certain genre. Coming from the side as opposite to this bias, looking at the success of ‘100 Days Husband’, it must have been a relief (laughs).
A. Certainly, I don’t think of such condition of manliness characteristic that you just talked. What’s important is the thing that person is good at, or feeling how great this person is from his personality. For acting too, I just want to do it as myself. I’m doing my best to go towards the direction that I want and showing the things that I could.

Q. From the many times that you heard praises about your skill and charming points, you’d seem surprised and didn’t know what to do. But concluding from all of your appearances, you must have a high self esteem. I wonder how these two side is coexisting.
A. Whenever someone would praise me I would be shy and feeling like I’m really going crazy (laughs). I do think I have a high self esteem, and it is important to do so. But it is not the confidence in terms of the skill i have but it’s relating to my health, that’s why it’s able coexist. To be able to do well, I need to be strong in order not to break even when receiving stress.

Q. Last year in the variety program ‘Knowing Brother’ I see that you wrote ‘farming’ as you future dream. And just as you like cooking, I wonder if you dreamed of living a life like depicted on ‘Little Forest’ (laughs).
A. I received many influence from the japanese series of ‘Little Forest’. Cooking the vegetables I grow by myself and living healthily in a quiet little house. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do that but I wish to live like that in my late thirties or mid forties.

source : xoxo_kleine @ twitter
repost / translating to other language is permitted with credit to @dyororo_
Tags: 2018, drama : a hundred days husband, interview, movie : along with the gods, movie : cart, movie : my annoying brother, movie : room number 7, movie : swing kids, movie : unforgettable / pure love
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