After 3 years of hiatus, actor Lee Jun Ki recently made his small screen comeback through ‘Arang and the Magistrate’. In his interview, he first thanked Shin Min Ah for giving him confidence to act in a comedy, revealed his thoughts on ending filming, and also the various stress he had regarding his comeback.
“I was quite worried to be honest. I had a great amount of stress as it was my comeback drama, but thankfully everyone seemed to like it, so I felt really happy. But I don’t feel like I’m in the stage of an actor as yet. I didn’t prepare much as I had just been discharged from the army. It feels like I was dragged to the judging panel. The discipline in the army was rigid and firm, and you had follow orders from the top. I was worried that my 2 years would diminish my aura as an actor. I was also afraid that I would be like a robot or puppet filming the drama, at least that’s what I thought prior to filming.”
Despite carrying a lot of burden on his shoulders, his stress level leveled out as the drama begun airing on television. In addition, he had sought to interact as much as possible at the filming site with the director, cast members, and production staff. He said, “I had a lot of stress, so I had hoped that it was like filming at my home base. So I first approached them and poured out my feelings. It did help to lessen my stress levels, and we even drank to improve our chemistry.”
Lee Jun Ki also took special training in fighting for the drama, and worked really hard throughout the filming with the staff members. Although each scene left a deep impression on him and was enjoyable to him, the reaction from viewers weren’t as explosive as anticipated. The average rating for the drama was only 12.8%, and failed to garner sufficient popularity among viewers despite the presence of Lee Jun Ki, Shin Min Ah, and the heavy promotional tactics by MBC TV as their top drama for the latter half of 2012.
“It’s true that there was some regrets about the drama. If I said no, that would be disregarding reality. The image setting of Eun Oh as a bad-tempered magistrate didn’t have much spark. My role in ‘Iljimae’ previously was like this too, acting like a street punk and it was really interesting for me as an actor, as I could approach acting it from different angles. But the director told me to not destroy the image, I felt that no matter how much of a punk Eun Oh is, he would have his own character, so I begun to slowly correct the tone and actions of Eun Oh in the latter episodes. I don’t like to execute things without saying it out first, so I would interact with people beforehand.”
With ‘Arang’ failed to break the 15% mark, Shin Min Ah need not realize her agreement to dance to ‘Single Ladies’. It was speculated that Lee Jun Ki had taught Shin Min Ah in private, leaving many to anticipate seeing it. “I didn’t teach her, we only did the dance for the production staff to see only. Shin Min Ah even asked me to do it in future. There was much anticipation so the agreement was made because of that. Many were disappointed that it couldn’t be realized, and often makes mention of it. Sometimes, I do feel that ratings are really difficult to grasp. But upon seeing that ratings were pretty constant throughout, I am really thankful to the viewers. There are many dramas who have single digit ratings, so I was quite relieved in a way.”
The romance of Lee Jun Ki and ‘Arang’ Shin Min Ah was one of the highlights of the drama. “I was quite stressed at the beginning, as I had just been discharged, while Shin Min Ah was one of the more popular actress out there. I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with her tempo. I felt that actresses have their own prejudices, and was afraid that it would be hard to get along with one another. But I realized later that I had worried too much. From the script recital session until the beginning of filming, she displayed a very positive attitude throughout. It wasn’t easy with the role of ‘Arang’ as it required her to jump up and down, and disregard her usual image. It wouldn’t be easy to reprise her role if she only wanted to look nice. Shin Min Ah has a strong will and gave me lots of energy. She also helped me out a lot and was also my senior. After getting to know her, I realized why she is so adored my many. She knows her flaws and knows how to cover them appropriately. I tried really hard to get into a good relationship with her and it became better as the filming went on. When the script came late, we discussed about what could happened in the coming episodes. Although she has been in quite a number of dramas, she has a stronger image through commercials. So I was worried that she might not do a good acting job. But she really let it all out, and it was really amazing to see her brimming with so much passion for acting.”
“I did not lose anything because of this drama. Maybe because this is my comeback drama, so I had a lot of stress. But because of the love from viewers, the filming ended successfully, this makes me happy and helped to regain my confidence.”
Lee Jun Ki knows how to find happiness in his present situation, and also knows how to distribute this happiness to people around him. His speedy infectious tone, and over the top antics have certainly endeared him to viewers. Finally, he said, “I hope to continue like this, one step at a time, improving my acting ability along the way. There are no shortcuts. You simply have to continue learning and gain that experience. I will continue along my path in a serious and humble manner.”