September-October Interviews & Photos Part IV (END): The Timid Yoo Ah In
Finally, we arrive to the last part of compilation of Yoo Ah In’s best interview articles for September-October period during ‘Tough As Iron’ movie promotion! Yay! Hope you enjoy them so far^^ You may check again Interview Part I, Part II, and Part III and the photos inside each part.
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In his boyish little face that somewhat looks exotic, a huge force of paradox emerges. The energy of youth and manhood is transferred so well through the camera in his recent movie ‘Tough as Iron’.
Is Yoo Ah In a toughie? He is indeed being ‘stereotyped’ as one from his work in “Sungkyungkwan Scandal” and the film “Punch (Wandeugi)”. In his latest outing as the gangster Busan-bred Kkang Chul (literally translated as ‘iron’), Yoo Ah In plays the tough guy role again. But look deeper as the film’s synopsis promises a storyline around the classic Heinz dilemma. Poor man with a sick parent dying of a terminal illness, how far would he go?
Yoo Ah In is also quite known for his comic prowess, and he gets to showcase that in the lighter side of the film, when his character will not yet be all stressed out with the dilemma in front of him. Other than that, he is very fortunate as an actor, or maybe this just speaks to his incredible talent.
In “Tough as Iron” he once again lands a role alongside South Korea’s best actors. Co-starring with him in this film is actress Kim Hae-Sook who plays Chul’s mother. Shared moments from mother-and-son likely be the cause of our movie-induced tear-filled moments.
“I am more timid than wild”
So, is Yoo Ah In a wild horse? He replied, “I’m more timid than wild. Sometimes I run around like a wild horse and rush things like the KTX. At the same time, I’m always timid and observant of others so that I don’t offend them. I never leave myself in peace but want to always grow to be a better actor and person.” He then said, laughing, “It’s a nightmare, don’t you think so?”
Yoo Ah In’s answers sometimes return as questions, which is unique and thought-provoking. His way of speaking is different from others. Even in the way he speaks, he stands apart from other celebrities whose answers are often retorts or one word cliché answers.
After the run away hit PUNCH, Yoo Ah In became the most sought after actor in his 20s in the Korean film industry. The next scenario he chose was Tough As Iron which opened on October 2nd. The reason he chose another low-budget film? He wanted to stay true to himself.
“I always ask myself if I’m staying true to what I was before. ‘Tough as Iron’ was what the naïve ‘me’ would have chosen prior to my success. It was a choice I made to reaffirm my stance. A multi-million dollar mega blockbuster? That’s not me. I wanted to remind myself of that.”
PUNCH and TOUGH AS IRON are movies that are protagonist heavy. ‘Tough as Iron’ protagonist Kkang Chul is a man that deeply loves his mother. Does Yoo Ah In resemble Kkang Chul in that way?
“I think I’m as manly as him, sure, but I don’t know if I can love my mother like he does. I have a hard time expressing my affection for my mother. I have been meaning to improve on that front. People say I look older or more mature, but I think I look that way because I’ve been thoroughly observing the personality of my recent role.”
Yoo Ah In said, “Speaking Busan dialect and performing action stunt scenes were the most challenging part of filming ‘Tough As Iron’.” It was difficult for him to film in Busan dialect when he was used to Daegu dialect. In addition, training for action stunts was long and exhausting.
“I’m not good at training. I’m really bad at reading too. I can’t just sit around and say my lines,” Yoo Ah In said, adding, “Same thing with action stunts. I do better when we’re actually filming than when I’m getting trained. When I tell myself, ‘This is the time to use my 100%’, my lines, actions and facial expressions become real. Thinking ‘I’m going to do it this or that way’ when filming seems fake to me.”
Despite the tough Busan weather and all the challenges, Yoo Ah In said it was fun filming the movie in Busan. “It was fun filming in Busan because the place is so lively. The bustling fish market, the smell of frozen tunas and squids, the back streets and the ice warehouse where we film the scenes are a nice life experience to me (laughs).”
“Acting is spilling all of myself as if spilling water”
He also shared what he thinks to be the charm of acting. “One of reasons I like acting is spilling all of myself as if spilling water. I used to be timid and quiet, but after becoming an actor my personality changed a lot. When the camera reels and I start acting, I feel a lot of catharsis coming inside of me as if kicking a bucket full of water.”
“I want to be able to act less salty, less sweet and milder and less spicy. I wish to create a taste of certain emotions that’s very rare to keep up. We all want to act above the water level, including me, because I want to leave only the least amount of energy inside of me and radiates it all out. As an actor I feel the crest of catharsis that needs to soothe as much as possible. But, in acting only the moderate amount is needed. Not that I can’t make it less or more than that, but I wish to control my acting. It’s the challenge and the spirit I wish to live up through my works.”
Yoo Ah In is an actor, but he has a slew of other talents that he refuses to be known by. He is already known to be an excellent writer through this writings on social networking sites. He has an excellent fashion sense that others mimic, and although it’s not well known, he is also a very good artist. He is active in pursuing these creative outlets but doesn’t want to make it public.
“I write, draw, and create works of art, but at this point, those things will be judged without objectivity only because I was the one doing it. I don’t want my works to be stamped ‘Yoo Ah In’s Work.’ I think my art should stand on its own, not on the crutches of my fame.” He added, mischievously, “Who knows? Maybe I’m not doing it under my name. Maybe I’m using an alias.”
Yoo Ah In loves making friends. He says that his friends are his driving force in life. “I don’t think there’s much to life besides having a great group of friends surrounding you. I always try to stretch my mind to become more flexible and natural. I don’t have a single friend or possession that I feel that I have not earned through hard work.”
Yoo Ah In is known for not hiring a fashion coordinator. He dresses himself even for big events, and his fashion philosophy is simple. “I want to show myself the way I want myself to be shown. That’s the most natural me.”
“It’s important to figure out how to push through the wound”
Besides sharing his beliefs and talking about social issues, Yoo Ah In is also known for his frequent donations for the needy, and his thought on delivering the message about it is astonishing.
“The most important thing is that contributions to help those in need are being passed correctly. In the process, providing the public information about donation activities gives a positive effect if you don’t mind people know about it. Some people are afraid of negative reactions that might come from the publicity, such as ‘he’s doing it for promotion’, or ‘he’s flaunting his wealth’, but there is no reason to fear it. Of course, I feel the satisfaction from helping someone as well.”
Yoo Ah In leaves a lot of meaningful messages via SNS, and he calls it as “just expressing myself as well”. He said, “For me it doesn’t matter if people disagree with my opinion. There is no reason to convince people to like it, but they should not be the reason to stop me from speaking it out either,” he said firmly.
“Of course I get hurt from the curses sometimes. But in the end it’s important to figure out how to push through the wound. The world is a wide horizon than what you think it seems. And as a young actor we have the rights [to speak up]. I think we should be able to raise the curiosity. It’s not that we’re trying to change Korea all of sudden in one day. But it’s because we are able to play more freely.”
Yoo Ah In has so much to say and think of that we wonder how he could have such a tremendous reflection. He said, “I’m a timid A blood type person (laughs). We tend to put a lot of thoughts before letting them out. In fact, I can’t live without discussing about something by the end of the day (laughs). Some people always expect further specific replies [explanations] from my writings/tweets. But there’s no fun. I want to have fun. I’m an actor and an entertainer, aren’t I? I hope people feel amused when they see [perceive] me. As long as my writing is not a criminal offense, it’s not a bad thing. Haha.”
“We must always have the eyes of doubt”
Yoo Ah In just turned out the questions paper that I held to a piece of nonsense. He speaks so well and gives articulate conviction in reply. About the vast knowledge he possessed, Yoo Ah In said, “I read a lot of books when I was a kid, but now the idea comes from my experience and contemplation and also the Internet, reading the news about political, economic, and social issues. A lot of information goes through the filter though. It’s sad, but we must always have the eyes of doubt since the truth might not be all visible. Therefore it would be better if we have wise premises and think smart.”
There’s a pun about the standards of ‘star’ and ‘actor’. Which one would you choose? Or perhaps you want to live in between? Yoo Ah In replied, “What if I just want to live as a ‘star actor’? (laughs). Actually I’d just refer myself according to the way people see me -as a celebrity- and I considerately accept it. I think that celebrities are not only about ‘popular actors’ anyone can afford. It’s something that must be nourished and one must relentlessly try to become a decent human being. I’ve learned a lot of actors lost the essence of star [because of the celebrity status].”
‘Tough As Iron’ is the movie that Yoo Ah In dedicates to her mother. He explained the figure of his mother and her influence to his life, “My mother is special to me. I’m not a sweet son. However she’s always on my mind and I respect her. My mother influenced me the most to think upright; she told me to always be an upright person and act just exactly. I live with this faith thanks to her. Is she proud of me? I don’t know. She never says so…Haha. Nowadays she’s probably too busy taking care of the grandchildren.”
“I always try to be a good person first”
The specific image Yoo Ah In wants to be? “I always try to be a good person first. When I was a kid, I wished to be a wonderful person my age now. And I’m trying to be someone that my juniors would feel comfortable with and think I’m a cool and refreshing senior. I want to be that kind of actor (laughs).”
He also added about his reputation as a ‘national rebel’, “I’m more rebellious in my movies than I am in real life. Haha.. There’s nothing I can do if all people have the same opinion about me, but I think I’m too old to be rebellious. I’m just an actor who fights against social abuses and absurdities because I still feel like being such young man.”
Now that he’s passed through half of his twenties, what changes does he feel going to the verge of 30s? Yoo Ah In said, “On my early twenties it was hard to be sensitive towards others, I was being impertinent and weary. Now I try to be more serious and carefully think like a mature man. When I was 20 years old I wished to grow up and be like ‘that [grown up] person’. Now I try to become nearly ‘that [grown up] person’ my 20 year-old me wished to be.”
His next project? He has said that he is most likely going to film another movie. “What I really want to do is TV sitcoms. Something to break the mold. I don’t need a big stage to show my acting prowess. Wherever I’m at should be the center stage. A true star should have that kind of pull, and I would like to be that kind of star.” He added, “I think I need to learn and to reinvent myself. Otherwise I won’t be able to improve my ability.”
Yoo Ah In said he’s addicted to mellow stories as well. “I’m already 27 years old and did the mellow project in full swing just now [which is too late]. I wish I were 23 years old forever! Haha.”
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