Kim Rae Won’s Interview (Cosmopolitan)
Kim Rae Won participated in a photo shoot and interview for the April 2009 issue of Cosmpolitan. Read below for excerpts from his interview.
KP’s note: Small parts were left out if they were a) not that important or b) too difficult to translate.
Cosmo: You look different from before, compared to Kim Rae Won of the past. You don’t look like Gourmet‘s Sung Chan. Did you lose weight?
KRW: Actually I’ve gained a little? I’m the type to lose and gain within a span of two, three days. I’m not sure if I’m just puffy right now or if I’ve gained weight. I get puffy easily too.
Cosmo: How did you lose weight without putting in much effort for Insadong Scandal?
KRW: I barely work out. I guess by just adjusting my diet? Only eat what I must, and do some light jogging? Even still I lost weight easily. For now, [my body] still can.
Cosmo: What was attractive [about Insadong Scandal]? You originally turned the part down after seeing the script.
KRW: That wasn’t because [the script] wasn’t good, it was because of scheduling. I had no choice but to reject it because its schedule overlapped with Gourmet. The script was then offerered to another actor but he also had a scheduling conflict so I got to do it in the end. In regards to style, it was different from previous projects, and the character of Lee Kang Jun was very different from the ones I played in Gourmet and Sunflower. I thought that this character could be done better past the age of 30. I wanted to do this kind of part when I have time to view the world after gaining more experience.
Cosmo: If you hadn’t done Insadong Scandal, you may have again taken on a character similar to Gourmet‘s Sung Chan. Isn’t that the image that the public demands of Kim Rae Won?
KRW: Frankly speaking, yes. I get a lot of scenarios (scripts) with a character who has a bright, healthy image. If not that, they’re very deep, very heavy productions such as Sunflower. I’m not sure if there are actors that aren’t like this, but don’t most people select the best option in their given situation? Insadong was a production like that.
Cosmo: Earlier, I said that you looked different. The hidden comment behind that was that you look sexy. Although I’ve only seen the first trailer, you looked extremely sexy [in it]?
KRW: Ah… not really…
Cosmo: That was a phrase that has never been seen in [your] productions until now – “sexy”?
KRW: That’s an aspect that I don’t have. Supposing it appeared so, it’s not something I did. There’s really nothing I did. It’s probably because the content itself is like that. It’s probably because it’s a project where there’s lots of cuts and the music tempo is fast, and there are lots of stylish elements.
Cosmo: Being considered as sexy is a great compliment – why are you so modest?
KRW: It’s not that I’m being humble, it’s because that’s what I truly think. It’s because of the PD’s reckoning on my weight control or manner of talking. If [people] feel that way from the trailer, I believe that’s downright the strength of the PD. The director wanted a similar feeling to Ocean’s Eleven.
Cosmo: I thought that too. Ocean Eleven‘s Brad Pitt. Style-wise, it reminded me of Ocean’s Eleven.
KRW: Brad Pitt – I’m not to that extent… Ah, [the director] also mentioned Lucky Number Sleven. Who’s that actor?
Cosmo: Josh Hartnett.
KRW: Yeah, Josh Hartnett. The director gave me a picture of [Hartnett in Lucky Number Sleven]. He said he’d like it if I could have Josh Hartnett’s style while in chararacter as an art restorer. At first I couldn’t adjust. To tell the truth, I was originally planning to shave my head. But the director said I can’t… One day while filming, I was checking the scene on the monitor on set and [I realized that] not only were the clothes I was wearing the same, but even the background hanging behind me was so similar to the photo given to me by the director. He is someone who carefully pays attention to elaborate details to that extent.
Cosmo: Since your character’s specialty was in restoring art, you must have learned a lot about Oriental paintings and art restoration.
KRW: I learned a bit about Oriental paintings. I also received some lessons in art restoration. I was coached one-on-one by the restorer for the National Museum of Contemporary Art. [He/she] even proposed that I remain and work together [with him/her] if I didn’t have anything else to do. Haha. [He/she] said that I’m better than [his/her] apprentices that are teaching at graduate schools. Haha….. I do have some deftness (skill) of hand.
Cosmo: You probably would have done well in visual art.
KRW: I’ve had interest in visual art. My mother operated an art academy for a long time too. I realized after trying it that art restoration is really amazing. I had to put a torn piece of paper back together but even my teacher couldn’t figure out where the original rip was. Chinese drawing paper has a texture to it. Because the texture is like the teeth of a saw, so if if it’s matched up well, it looks just like before. But the biggest problem is finding the [right] paper. You see, to restore a piece that is 100 years old, you need to find paper from the same era and that’s really difficult. So sometimes you have to artificially age it by using a drier to make it look like it’s 100 years old. Or on occasion you use scraps of waste paper from old tombs. When I visited the art museum, they had a collection of such waste paper.
Cosmo: For the restoring process, you also use a chisel-like knife. You have a lot of ties with knives.
Cosmo: From Mister Socrates to Sunflower to Gourmet, Kim Rae Won’s career as an actor bloomed from projects where you’ve used knives. Did you possibly hear from a fortune teller that would attain great success in a career of using knives?
KRW: I’ve never gone to get my fortune told. I’m a [Catholic-]Christian.
KP’s note: Kim goes to Mass every week with the staff of his agency.
Cosmo: Ah! I saw in the news that you volunteered to take a pay cut.
KRW: In the past, there was a part of me that thought that just doing my own part well was more important than getting in tune with the other actors. Kind of a selfishness to stick out more remarkably. Well, maybe even now other actors might say that I’m still like that, but I feel that at the very least, I’ve gotten better from before. I realized that there’s no use to appearing prominently alone. If people don’t watch it because the production isn’t good, what’s the use? I think it’s important to make a good [film] production with acting that’s right for the movie [- not just for myself].
Cosmo: There’s word that you might do one more project before enlisting; has a definite decision been made?
KRW: There are many projects under consideration, but it’s difficult to say definitely. At this very moment, I have no thoughts of wanting to do another project like Sunflower though. I’m scared of living with the emotions of such a character I can’t escape for two or three months. There was a similar aspect while filming Insadong Scandal as well. At the beginning of filming, I’d go hiking or golfing with friends, and they’d say so. Why I act so impudently these days. When I’d ask what’s so provoking, they’d say I just am.
Cosmo: I guess Lee Kang Joon is that kind of guy?
KRW: Yeah. In the movie, I’m really impudent. That character entered inside of me, so without me knowing it, I guess some resemblance grew.
Cosmo: It’s baffling. As the interview goes on, I get more confused. You say you like the romantic comedy genre, and you want to try a romantic comedy, yet [you say] you have no interest in dating [at the moment]. How can I understand that Kim Rae Won?
KRW: Even if I don’t date, I can live vicariously through doing a romantic comedy. And while doing so, gain understanding of what love is.
Cosmo: What do you think you’d be doing if you didn’t become an actor?
KRW: Hmm….. I’ve never thought about it…
Cosmo: What kind of actor do you want to be remembered as?
KRW: I don’t have the [desire] to receive such attention…
Cosmo: What I remember the most about our last interview was your story about having cartoon (comic) dreams. [You said] your dreams appear as animation. Do you still have those cartoon dreams?
KRW: I don’t have dreams often. Just occasionally when I’m really exhausted.
Cosmo: What kind?
KRW: A dream where I keep running.
Cosmo: What are you racing for?
KRW: Mmm…. I think I’m racing to find what is right, while at other times I get the feeling that I came the wrong way – I’m not quite sure. I feel like there’s something else I have to do but I don’t know what. I don’t even know if it’s the right direction. Yet I keep on running eagerly.
KP’s note: Kim Rae Won seems quite frank in answering questions, but in the ones I’ve read, rather a) he feels uncomfortable or b) he makes the journalist uncomfortable during the interview. He admits, “I’ve gotten better compared to before, but giving interviews is still difficult.”