I heard you are currently filming a movie.
The movie is a story about a man whose life is changed after he gets framed as a murderer for no reason. It’s a crime action movie; we spent about 4 months filming it. I will probably be busy with filming the movie till the end of this month (October).
I heard you are playing the role of an unemployed man. I can’t imagine Ji Chang Wook acting as an unemployed person.
I will probably appear just like how an unemployed person would in real life. I don’t wear make-up when I go to film the movie, and I don’t fix my hair either. I will go for the filming looking just like how I was after waking up. I will often appear wearing tracksuits.
After filming for so long, do you get a feel as to whether a show will succeed or not?
It’s not possible to predict. It’s not possible to imagine too. Until the show is revealed to the public, it is impossible to tell if it will succeed or not.
Then what is your criteria for choosing a project?
My criteria is totally subjective. Rather than “Will others have fun watching it?”, it should be a show that I will have fun watching it. The character should also be charming. I will decide mainly based on these. It will always be tiring when acting in a show. It will definitely be tiring. Both mentally and physically. It is very rare for something to be completed easily and comfortably. That’s why I look for a role that I will be able to act and have fun at the same time.
Which role did you have the most fun with when acting?
Ta Hwan in “Empress Ki”. There were many things that I could show (in the role). Because it was a role with many changes in emotions, I was able to show many different kinds of images. To be given such a role is a very happy thing for an actor. During the casting stage, I had already strongly expressed my intention to take on this role. The synopsis for “Empress Ki” was interesting, and the character itself was charming, so I had this thought that I had to do this role at all costs. It was also good when filming “Healer”. “Healer” was a special case; actually the viewership rating was the lowest among the 3 broadcasting stations. But it was unexpectedly popular in China.
Are you aware that you are a highly sought after model among various brands?
I’ve heard a bit of this as my number of fans in China have increased recently. I have received a lot of love even though I don’t have a lot of shows, so I’m also surprised myself. This is something I’m thankful for.
You appeared on a Chinese variety programme and I heard that the response was good.
I appeared on a variety programme called “Happy Camp”. I don’t appear often on variety programmes in Korea, I’m not good at speaking, and I can’t speak Chinese too, so I was very worried. It was a variety show that required the use of the body, and it’s fortunate that I enjoy exercising on normal days, so I was able adjust without difficulty and filmed the show. Although there are cultural differences, work that is done by humans are all the same.
Why are you popular in China?
The biggest reasons for an actor’s popularity are the show and character. “Empress Ki” and “Healer” were well received in China. If not for those two shows, they probably wouldn’t have known about actor Ji Chang Wook. The power of a show is that important to an actor.
Do you have any plans to venture into China?
I still looking into it. Honestly, there are many offers. But nothing has been confirmed yet. I intend to really start thinking about this after I finish filming my current movie. It seems a bit early to immediately start working on a show in Korea. If there is a good project, I may be inclined to enter (the Chinese market). If not, I might just rest also.
What do you usually do when you rest?
I usually meet up with friends. I also play games, exercise, drink tea, and drink alcohol. At dawn yesterday, I drank soju with friends at the convenience store in front of my house. I live ordinarily just like guys my age.
Won’t people recognise you?
I’m not too bothered by it. I can’t possibly go around hiding myself everyday. It’s not like I did something wrong. I try to live ordinarily. Most of my friends are ordinary people so I don’t wish to cause them trouble, that’s why I try hard not to be too concerned about this.
A common issue you have with other actors your age is army enlistment.
I have to go. Honestly, I had many different thoughts last time. These days, my mindset has changed so I think it will be better to enlist quickly and come back. I ever wondered “Is it unfair to have to go to the army?” but not any more. This is something that other people have also experienced, and I’ll feel more at ease if I think that way.
You will probably feel the pressure about having nothing to do.
Even if I don’t go to the army, it is possible that I may not have any shows to do at all for 2 years if I have no luck. You will get depressed if you are too ambitious. It’s a lie if I say that I have no stress at all, but it is not serious. Just like when my mind and body are all exhausted from filming these days, I will think this way, “Will it be relaxing if I go to the army?”, “I will start a new life when I return from the army”. Of course, it’s definitely not true that the army will be relaxing, but that’s my way of mind control.
You are very positive.
It will be really difficult if I don’t live like this (laughs).
I think you are a youth with a very strong mentality.
I go back and forth. I’m not positive all the time. Sometimes I will have many thoughts and suffer on my own, sometimes I’ll be filled with negative thoughts too. I will feel insecure at one moment and then change to become positive when given a small opportunity. I will be happy one moment and then feel down suddenly. I do have such highs and lows. My life does not follow a regular schedule given the nature of my job, so this is something inevitable. But at least it’s fortunate that I’m able to let loose my emotions while acting. I can shout as I like, and as I cry, run and get angry, it feels like I’m discharging all the unnecessary emotions.
Voice and intonation are very important to an actor, and your voice is very good now that I’m hearing it in reality.
I’ve liked singing a lot since I was young. Even now, I often meet up with friends to go to the noraebang (karaoke). Because all my friends can’t really drink alcohol, we usually play very mildly. I also perform musicals, and musicals have yet another charm that is different from acting.
I was searching for your recent articles before this interview, and it seems like you have a good (sense of) style.
Thankful for thinking that way. I think it’s neither the best nor the worst. Being comfortable is the best. I don’t like to try too hard to be stylish. I don’t think it suits me. I usually wear clothes like knit clothing, sweatshirts and hooded T-shirts.
We will conclude the interview with a question that you have definitely heard hundreds of times. What kind of actor do you wish to become?
Even if it’s not grand, I wish to become an actor that finds his own path and silently acts. Not noisily, and not the subject of gossip by busybodies. I want to be an actor that is not out of the ordinary. I hope to become an actor that is remembered for his shows, roles and acting.
Translated from Korean to English by Gabby.
Source: Esquire Korea Magazine