Even in the gray city, his gaze that is filled with diverse narratives is shining with a strong presence. The deep charisma of actor Ji Chang Wook, who is back with his movie “Fabricated City”, is contained within the camera’s viewfinder.
Ji Chang Wook leaned against the roof railing of an abandoned factory where the cold wind blew coldly enough that his mouth froze and could not speak properly. Barely getting into position, a gust of dusty wind disrupted his vision before he could turn his face toward the camera. The photo shoot continued for several hours with him using hot packs that barely soothed his frozen face; the photo shoot of actor Ji Chang Wook was a tough one indeed. Just up till the day before, the weather in the southern province was mild enough for spring flowers to bloom when they are not supposed to, but the sudden cold wave felt twice as bad today. And in the middle of that difficult scene, he stood there shining with a face that was stronger than anyone else, and posed with expressions that were more interesting than anyone else.
In fact, the reason for this harsh photo shoot is because the main character is none other than Ji Chang Wook. Come to think of it, we have no memory of him living a smooth and easy life. Although he possesses a neat look like a son of a rich family, he had to struggle and slowly work his way up from the bottom ranks of society, he had to stay alert every moment and give his best to protect his position, and he had to fight and suffer to protect himself and his loved ones.
Not just on screen, he lived his life fiercely in reality and did his best as an actor to give a complete portrayal of his characters. Whenever he had time, he would exercise to build up his body, sweat it out in the action school, practise the songs that he has to sing on stage, head overseas for fan meetings, and even had fun with fans at a chicken party event by the Han River when he barely had free time.
He has devoted every moment of his to the completion of “actor Ji Chang Wook”. And thanks to that, we were able to get up close to meet him who is always ablaze. In February, we will see him fighting with all his might and running without pause on screen as always. He appears in the film “Fabricated City”, where in the face of the harsh reality of Korea and in a world where an ordinary person can be framed as a murderer within 3 minutes 16 seconds, a youth who is wrongfully framed as a murderer tries to unravel the truth of the incident with his friends from the virtual gaming world and stages a thrilling counterattack. Ji Chang Wook, who plays the role of Kwon Yoo, a formidable leader in the gaming world but a jobless man with nothing much to do in reality, will present a story with a novel idea and daring action as he stages an exciting showdown against the powerful and a regulated world. Seeing him run with all his might and his sparkling eyes that possess diverse emotions and plenty of stories, everyone will fall for him once again like we’ve always done so.
There’s not much time left till the opening day of your first starring movie “Fabricated City” right? You must be very nervous.
I’m really very anxious and nervous. I’m excited but also worried, I’m having a mix of complicated emotions. More importantly, I’m really curious as to how the movie will turn out. Although the subject itself is not totally special, it is uniquely imaginative and has many comic-like elements that set it apart from other movies. I’m really looking forward to see how the scenes pictured in my mind will play out in reality. Actually, I felt uneasy because nothing definitive jumped out at me when I first saw the scenario. Moreover, I did not have any confidence in playing the leading role. I was undecided because I wasn’t sure if I could perform well under pressure, but I got persuaded after meeting Director Park Gwang Hyun and talking to him. He has always been someone who possesses a unique style, so I thought I will be able to have an interesting time working with him.
This new film from the director comes almost 10 years after “Welcome to Dong Mak Gol”, so his motivation must be considerable. Was the atmosphere during filming different from usual?
Frankly, I was always very busy during filming. Besides having to handle various genres and highly difficult action scenes, I also had to work on my character’s emotions at the same time, which was not easy. There were also many parts that required post-production CGI effects so there were many occasions where I had to use my imagination and act. I even had to bear the burden of “needing to do well” as the lead actor in the initial stage. But as filming progressed, looking at the director, staff and fellow actors made me feel better and a lot more at ease. Looking at them, I felt a sense of comfort and trust that “I am doing well, and I will do a good job”. Of course, the film itself was a strong one so I had a sense of anticipation that the audience will respond well to it, but the fact that I was able to go through such a valuable process during filming makes me feel satisfied and thankful.
This film presents a new style that deviates from the mould of typical Korean crime movies. Given that the film is so rich in action scenes and noteworthy points to look out for, it must have been hard on you from the perspective of an actor.
So far, this is a project that I’ve done the most action and spent the longest time preparing for action scenes. Even during the peak of summer, I practically spent all my days at the action school. Although I’ve done a lot of action in dramas, I practised continuously because I had to do all kinds of action including gun fights, hand combat, car chases and wire action in this film. Even when I thought my body was sufficiently familiar enough with the moves, it felt different once I started filming so there were many difficult aspects.
At some point in time, “action” became a representative keyword that describes you. What is the reason that you push yourself (to do action) even though you say it’s difficult every time?
There are many male actors who harbour big romantic fantasies about action, but honestly I’ve always thought that I did not have the right aptitude for action. But amazingly, no, surprisingly, things just turned out this way. Looking back, I’ve never chosen a project for the sake of “action”. I chose projects because I was drawn to the story and the charms of the character, but majority of them turned out to be shows with a strong emphasis on action. Well, I also think it’s a good thing that I get to experience all these to my heart’s content when I’m still young and able to do all these. Now, I will stop with this movie and I wish to rest for the time being. Honestly, my body is very tired. I really felt like dying when I started on “The K2” after I finished filming this movie (laughs). Of course, I forgot the tiredness very quickly thanks to that feeling of euphoria and fulfilment.
It takes a long time to prepare for a project, but you took on project after project without rest. Do you have a constant thirst for acting?
I think the past few years were really busy for me. After chasing schedules and feeling tired, I definitely wished I could take a break, but I think I’m a person who doesn’t know how to rest. Once I rest, I will feel that I have to do something and I will wish to go back to work again. And when an actor says that he will select a certain project, it actually does not really mean that he “is able to choose” it. The chances of dreaming up something with your mind and heart and meeting a project that matches it 100% are very low. The project you get depends on the conditions, situation and many other factors at that point in time, and this seems a lot closer to destiny. That’s why it seems like I’m always looking for a new destiny.
But you need to have a break in your life in order to find strength to continue again. This is even more so for a person like Chang Wook sshi who keeps running forward so fiercely.
That’s why bit by bit, I’m thinking about ways to rest and I’m trying to practise it. Sometimes on days where I have no schedules, I try to spend it entirely on myself and the people I like and love. All I did in my twenties was running passionately towards success and for the sake of my dream. But at exactly around this time last year, I wondered ‘How many birthdays, new years and year-ends do I have left to enjoy thoroughly?’ as I entered my thirties and looked back on my twenties. There weren’t as many left as I had thought. I lived my life intensely, but I was also unable to find enjoyment in my life independently. Now I’m determined to spend and enjoy every free moment that I have no matter how short it is.
But you must have gotten some time for yourself in the past month after concluding your drama. Have you been sufficiently recharged?
It happened to be the end of the year once I finished my drama, so there were many gatherings like year-end parties. I was strictly controlling my diet just before that, but I let myself loose for about 3 weeks and drank to my heart’s content with the people I liked, and I spent my time very comfortably. It has been a long time since I rested well in such a carefree manner. And I went to Thailand on a vacation with my mum in the beginning of the year. I couldn’t go on a long holiday so I took a short trip to a nearby destination, but my mum has always been very diligent in travelling around, so the schedule ended up being very packed. I was a little exhausted? Haha, just kidding. Seeing how my mother enjoyed herself so much made me feel satisfied and happier. Because it has been a very long time since the two of us went somewhere. I will probably remember it for a long time.
You have a fan meeting planned in Japan this month even when you are busy with movie promotions? You’ve really become a star whose popularity extends beyond Korea to the rest of Asia. Do you sense that your status has changed?
I’m not saying this because it’s a model answer, but I’m really exactly the same be it now or last time. I don’t think anything about me has changed, so I am able to continue living my life without being overly concerned about the changes around me. Even when I travel around for fan meetings or Asia tours, I just think it is amazing, I enjoy it, and I am grateful. But now that time has passed, the sense of novelty about me having foreign fans is slowly disappearing. Even if the nationality and culture are different, people will still be enthusiastic if the show is good and the story is interesting, and their show of support for actors is also the same. In any case, I’m grateful that so many different people are looking for me and thinking of me. I just need to continue doing my job well, and everything else will just naturally take its own course right?
We keep discovering a new side of you the more we chat. We hope you will be able to show the different faces of you more often.
Firstly, in the movie “Fabricated City”, you will be able to see not only my high level action stunts, but also various kinds of emotional acting and different faces of me. There will also be lighthearted fun and touching moments, so please look forward to those. I will be showing new sides of me through good projects in the future too. Actually, I’m a simple and free person at the same time. I think my strength is that I am not swayed a lot by what other people say or how they perceive me, and I’m not impatient. But I try not to be ashamed or be regretful when I look at myself critically. Although I cannot call myself an excellent actor yet, I should be able to become better because I am working hard. Like what you said, I will continue to present charming and new sides of me. While enjoying myself, I have to wait again for the next project that I can pour myself into.
Translated from Korean to English by Gabby.
PLEASE DO NOT REPRINT, REPURPOSE, SCREENCAP OR OTHERWISE COPY OUR CONTENT WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
Credit: 1st Look Official