Interview with Jang Hyuk: "I Wanted to be a Teacher"

With a strong gaze and a cool, relaxed way of talking, Jang Hyuk has been interviewed by Osen News. Going through complete character changes with every project, Jang Hyuk is known for slowly immersing his audience into falling for his manly charms. 

Jang Hyuk was interviewed at a cafe located in upscale Apgujeong, Seoul. He strode into the cafe in a clean-cut suit. 

Jang Hyuk is very passionate about his acting and takes care and detail to develop each and every character he undertakes. When talking about his acting techniques and philosophy he looks to his role as “Lee Dae Gil” from last year’s KBS 2TV “Chuno.” This time around his role as “Han Chul Min” in hit film The Client” has gained lots of attention. 

Last month on September 18, the movie “The Client,” directed by Son Yong Sung, opened in Seoul’s Megabox located at Dongdaemun. Top actors Ha Jung Woo, Park Hwi Soon, and Jang Hyuk came together to produce a thriller involving the legal world. It attracted one million viewers within the first week. 

In this film, Jang Hyuk plays the role of a character who is suspected of killing his wife and is undergoing court trials. However, it is hard to predict what actually happened through the character’s visible emotions, use of eyes and way of talking. Jang Hyuk was asked what it was like playing this complex and mysterious character.

“This character was like being the catcher in a game of baseball. In other action movies or dramas I did a lot of the throwing and hitting, but this time Ha Jung Woo and Park Hwi Soon were the ones throwing the action to me and I was on the other side receiving and playing off of what they gave me. It was actually a bit easier. I just went naturally with the flow.” 

A court case thriller isn’t what you would call a common movie genre. All circumstances point to Jang Hyuk’s character Han Chul Min, suspecting him of being the killer. One has to wonder what kind of things run through Han Chul Min’s head during the legal ordeal. In order to better understand, Jang Hyuk stated that he studied his character in great depth. 

“First of all, since a lot of the scenes were in the courtroom, I attended real courtroom hearings. Since my role in the movie was the one being persecuted I mainly observed the defendants. Also, in order to better understand Han Chul Min’s mental status I read a lot of books about psychopaths. It’s not because Han Chul Min per se has these tendencies but because I thought it would help my acting. After looking the materials over and over again these kinds of characters have their own individualities. They’re not crazy, but the way they express themselves are different from how normal people would.” 

Jang Hyuk gave his thoughts on character development for different pieces of work. 

“For every project I undergo, the way I develop the character varies. It’s like moving jobs for the average person. If you look at it that way I’ve switched jobs and started anew over 20 times. In order to adapt to a new working environment there are many things you have to study and work on to fit in. Especially if I’m working on more traditional dramas, those need more time to adapt than more modern drama characters. For traditional dramas, it’s not a time period I’ve actually lived in, so practicing the use of language and the way I said things used up most of my time. I had to study the olden language carefully. To me acting well means asking many questions about your character and finding things out. The more time put into developing the character the easier the audience can relate to that character.” 

Ha Jung Woo featured in “The Client” as Jang Hyuk’s lawyer and Park Hwi Soon plays the role of the detective. It is curious to how these three actors worked together.  

“We all added up to 10. What I mean is that if I’m three, the other actor match me by being sevens. So together we add up to 10. They have a type of rhythm to their acting. The environment on set was always a good one because of their presence. Even though the story wasn’t a very happy one. (Laughs) To be working with actors that know how to add up to 10 is really fun. I was lucky to work with them.” 

After filming “The Client” in March, Jang Hyuk went on to film for drama “Midas.” He set off to film for yet another drama, SBS’s “Deep-Rooted Tree” in August. Taking on role after role, without rest it must have been tiring for Jang Hyuk. 

“I like keeping busy with work. I tend to learn a lot from being on set. Besides taking two years off for military service, I haven’t taken a rest once. I plan to keep pushing myself until I reach the limit. But even doing that won’t prevent me from dating or working out. There’s still lots of time. (Laughs)” 

Jang Hyuk’s original goal in life was not being an actor. When the interviewer mentioned that Jang Hyuk had a knack for telling stories, he replied by stating, “I wanted to be a teacher. I like communicating and having conversations.” How did a this top actor change his mind from being a teacher to an actor? 

“I wanted to be a teacher. When I was young my father worked at construction site director. Therefore, my dad lived out in Saudi Arabia and Iraq for about 10 years. I was only able to see my father from 15 days to about a month every year. I saw my mother cry quite a bit when it came time for my to leave the country again. So, quite simply I wanted to have a job that ended earlier in the day to allow time to spend with family. Since I liked having conversations with people too, being a teacher was the perfect fit.”

He continued, “As for acting, in high school one of my friends was in the drama club, so I joined too. And then when it was time for me to enter college, I entered as a musical major. At first I didn’t have much of a goal, but I still ran hard with it. Instead of climbing stairs, it felt like I was riding an escalator. I probably went through more than 100 auditions. However, it was still a turning point. From the environment on set and from my seniors I learned the necessary basics as an actor and eventually formed a dream and goal to reach for. Now, I truly believe that this my place and what I must do as my job. Even now, I and in the middle of learning and developing as an actor.”