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Lookback: LMH on City Hunter 10Asia Interview
Lee Min Ho recently granted an interview to 10Asia to discuss his thoughts about the drama "City Hunter," the finale of which aired on July 28. The interview, which was split into two parts, shared Lee's experiences filming the drama, his thoughts about the relationship between Lee Yoon Sung and Kim Nana, and his own beliefs about acting. Lee revealed that after filming "Boys Over Flowers," he hoped to branch out from his "pretty boy" image, and that was why he starred in "City Hunter." "I feel that I was able to show my potential as an actor through 'City Hunter.' I guess you could say that I was able to take a step closer to obtaining the title as a real actor." Now you can expect to see him in more varied dramas, as Lee says he has since been offered different types of roles than previously. On acting with Park Min Young, he said, "I'm kind of sad that I wasn't able to treat Kim Nana in a more adult-like and manly manner because of how the show ended for Lee Yoon Sung. I also feel sad that we couldn't prolong our bickering relationship because it might have kept up the tension from before a bit." But he said that he was still able to do the "lovey-dovey" scenes without much problem. "Park Min Young and I were able to create those scenes because she was someone I could act comfortably with." Lee also discussed how he has changed since he became famous. "Before, I was the kind of person who enjoyed meeting strangers. I used to be very cheerful and friendly and tried to get to know a person in a broader sense but a lot of those characteristics faded away after I got a lot of attention from the audience. I began to avoid people if I felt slightly uncomfortable with them and I was sad with myself becau se I was struggling to think of things to talk about with a friend who I met after a year. At times, I even wondered whether this was the right way to live. I'm not sure where this loneliness comes from and as much as I put in my efforts to find a solution, I think it'll be difficult to do so if I stay an actor." part 1 10: I heard you faced many difficulties and was even injured by debris while shooting "City Hunter." Have you recovered? Lee Min-ho (Lee): I hurt my leg from glass shards because they installed too much explosives for explosions. I have somewhat healed from that injury but my body is still wrecked and I am still covered with bruises. That was how hard of a time I had. (laugh) 10: "City Hunter" ended with your character Lee Yoon-sung living and your foster father Lee Jin-pyo (Kim Sang-joong) dying. What are your thoughts about the ending? Lee: I think that the ending was similar to what Lee Yoon-sung was like. Lee Jin-pyo died while Lee Yoon-sung is someone who can't be selfish and I don't think it would've matched if the show finished with a completely happy ending. The final scene where it showed Lee Yoon-sung running about the city himself suited him well. I think he would've been happy after that. (laugh) He will probably be able to go on with his life hiding about just like in the original comic. 10: Some say that in the final episode Lee Yoon-sung reconciled with Lee Jin-pyo even though he was brought up as a tool for revenge. How was it having to immerse yourself fully for most of your scenes with Lee Jin-pyo throughout all 20 episodes of the show? Lee: I had to break up my emotions so they'd be evenly distributed throughout the show. I didn't want to audience to lose interest thinking that Lee Yoon-sung's emotions were becoming weak towards Lee Jin-pyo. For the conflict between Lee Jin-pyo and Lee Yoon-sung, I felt that Lee Yoon-sung needed something different other than just powerful since Lee Jin-pyo was a strong character from beginning to end. It's one of the reasons why I held back in showing the sadness and anger whenever Lee Yoon-sung met Lee Jin-pyo rather than showing the force through my eyes. And then I let those emotions blow up in the scene where Lee Yoon-sung tortures himself after he finds out that Lee Jin-pyo had kidnapped and raised him for revenge. After that I wanted to show that Lee Yoon-sung was trying to understand Lee Jin-pyo. 10: You decided to take part in "City Hunter" early on. What do you think is the difference between the Lee Yoon-sung before and after working on the show? Lee: At first, I wanted to start off as someone who is more depressed than now. I thought that someone like Lee Yoon-sung who was someone that was dark and hardly laughed will probably change after working at the Blue House and meeting Kim Nana (played by Park Min-young). However, it turned out to be the other way around. (laugh) Most of the scenes where Lee Yoon-sung and Kim Nana are bickering were shown in the beginning in order to highlight the melodramatic storyline because the director felt that action series had a better chance of failing. 10: You have shown a variety of emotions with your relationship with Kim Nana like how you would annoy her one minute, then become somewhat jealous and cold towards her. It seemed as though you reflected on all your experiences from your past works to do so. Lee: I have become quite familiar with it and I know that I can pull it off because the bickering relationship between Kim Nana and Lee Yoon-sung is just like any relationship between a girl and a guy in other dramas. I put my trust in the director during those scenes in the middle that were lovey dovey. (laugh) Because he is someone that can create a beautiful scene. And Park Min-young and I were able to create those scenes because she was someone I could act comfortably with. I'm kind of sad that I wasn't able to treat Kim Nana in a more adult-like and manly manner because of how the show ended for Lee Yoon-sung. And there wasn't much to show after Kim Nana found out that Lee Yoon-sung was the City Hunter. The only thing that he could do was to ask her to wait for him till he was done with his mission. I also feel sad that we couldn't prolong our bickering relationship because it might have kept up the tension from before a bit. 10: "City Hunter" is a completely different genre from KBS' series "Boys Over Flowers" and "Personal Taste." What did you focus on the most for "City Hunter" since it had more action sequences and the main characters in the show were different from your previous works? Lee: What I kept in mind was to adequately divide the emotions that are expressed in the relationships between the characters. The relationship and between Lee Yoon-sung and Kim Young-joo change and the emotions between the two kept piling with every episode. Kim Young-joo was supposed to turn around coldly when he meets Lee Yoon-sung after his father Kim Jong-sik gets in a car accident because of him. But one might feel sorrow looking back on Lee Yoon-sung's relationship with Kim Young-joo. We revised that part because it was important to put emphasis on the sadness felt by Lee Yoon-sung due to the fact that someone got hurt because of him. I wanted to express every emotion that is felt when I interacted with the characters. 10: What do you do when the way you understood the character is different from the script? Lee: First, I'm the kind of person that worries about things by myself and then I consult with others after coming up with my own conclusion. Even for "City Hunter," I was worried about many things but I went over them to see what was different after meeting with the director. I honestly think that's just my personality. I usually worry about things by myself when I have a problem and I talk about it with other people later on. 10: Lee Yoon-sung's action sequences weren't as extravagant as the ones other leading male heroes put on. Lee: I think that's also my inclination. I like unexpectedness instead of going overboard when showing something, just like how I don't want to force sadness for a sad scene and express my anger in a calm manner. I don't even like movies or dramas with pretentious elements. I also wanted show the strong action sequences in a light and simple way, without anything unnecessary and I'd say the spoon and stairwell action sequences were great. I really liked how I had to show seriousness and urgency for the action sequence in the stairs even though it was a tight space and there was one light. 10: There must have been many dangerous scenes but I heard you hardly used a stunt double. Lee: I did about 80-90 percent of the action scenes. I was greedy and performed most of the scenes except for the ones where Lee Yoon-sung falls from a high building or jumps over walls. I insisted on doing them [dangerous scenes] even though the production crew told me that I didn't have to. 10: Lee Yoon-sung is someone who longs for his family's love and is interested in societal problems though he lives for revenge. That is how much more complex he was on the inside. Lee: I feel that Lee Yoon-sung is someone who has this deep loneliness. His fate is tied down to revenge but he gets really sad and goes through a hard time when someone gets hurts because of it. I acted out Lee Yoon-sung thinking about the loneliness that I go through as an actor and I tried not to forget that feeling throughout. As for the interaction with Kim Nana, Kim Young-joo (Lee Jun-hyuk) and Lee Jin-pyo, I tried to naturally express the emotional changes Lee Yoon-sung would go through depending on the people and situations he would be in with his loneliness at the basis. Part 2 0: You must have had many thoughts and concerns in portraying Lee Yoon-sung. However, one's acting may seem a bit unnatural if they have a lot on their mind. What was the one thing that you went with while acting? Lee Min-ho (Lee): It was very important to capture the essence of the character. I knew that I would be able to portray Lee Yoon-sung without straying away from the script once I knew what he was thinking, his values and the right amount of emotions to express. So I think I tried to express my anger in a way that it would be based on loneliness but wouldn't seem strange. 10: Do you think that there are any points in which you can relate to a character like Lee Yoon-sung who wants to live an ordinary life even though you yourself have enjoyed your popularity and reached stardom through "Boys Over Flowers? Lee: Lee Yoon-sung is quite a sad individual even from a third person's point of view. He lived a life that he didn't want since the day he was born and never received any love from his parents. I think it's only normal that he wants to live a normal life. 10: You said you thought of your loneliness while depicting on Lee Yoon-sung's loneliness. When are you most lonely? Lee: Before, I was the kind of person who enjoyed meeting strangers. I used to be very cheerful and friendly and tried to get to know a person in a broader sense but a lot of those characteristics faded away after I got a lot of attention from the audience. I began to avoid people if I felt slightly uncomfortable with them and I was sad with myself because I was struggling to think of things to talk about with a friend who I met after a year. At times, I even wondered whether this was the right way to live. I'm not sure where this loneliness comes from and as much as I put in my efforts to find a solution, I think it'll be difficult to do so if I stay an actor. 10: It seems as though you've started the second round to your career, after receiving a lot of attention for "Boys Over Flowers," through "City Hunter" by showing a new side to you. What does starring in "City Hunter" mean for you career-wise? Lee: I feel that I was able to show my potential as an actor through "City Hunter" and I had a strong image of being a 'pretty boy' after starring in "Boys Over Flowers." I guess you could say that I was able to take a step closer to obtaining the title as a real actor. After "City Hunter," I have been offered many different roles in not only cheerful productions but also in works that give off a serious and lonesome vibe. It feels as though my range of acting has expanded. 10: What kind of actor do you think has great potential? Lee: I believe it is one who is able to express their emotions freely. An actor is someone that is able to maintain and express the character's emotions effectively and leave an impression whether it is in a two or three hour long movie or in a 20-part drama. I honestly think that it [being an actor] is hard. (laugh) But I think one can pull it off if they have honesty and the audience can see it as well. I want to be able to express it just right without being too straightforward or weak. 10: What do you want to try for your next production? Lee: I want to try acting a loose-ended acting. Like a loser who always visits a comic book store. (laugh) Or maybe do a film like "Twilight" where I can play someone that people can relate to although it's an imaginary world. 10: What are your reasons for wanting to play those kinds of roles? Lee: I used to live my life just like those characters up til my middle and high school years. I used to drag around my slippers. (laugh) But I lost of a lot of those characteristics as I became an adult and I want to find those traits again through those roles. I feel like a lot of the fans want to see who the real Lee Min-ho is. I feel confident that I can pull off that role by bringing out my experiences. 10: You are now in your mid-twenties. Are you eager to get older? Lee: Many male actors say that they are in a hurry to become 30 but I like myself now where I'm stuck between being a young man and an adult. I feel like I'm not limited to expressing myself. Maybe a person's real appeal shows once they hit their thirties but I will probably be sad if my young image disappears. Honestly, I don't even like the fact that time is going by right now. (laugh) cr: 10Asia
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