By Park Chung-a
It is not too much to say that 2005 was the year of Daniel Henney. The model-turned-actor gained the status of a national heartthrob by playing angel-hearted doctor Henry Kim in last year’s mega-hit television soap opera “My Lovely Sam-soon.’’ While it was only his debut drama, he quickly became one of the most wanted commercial models, with his image leading to a rise of metrosexuality.
Han Hyo-joo, left, and Seo Do-young, who play lovers in the
upcoming drama "Spring Waltz" /Courtesy of KBS
This year, the Korean-American actor is to be back on TV, with a new role in the upcoming KBS drama “Spring Waltz.’’ The drama will be produced by the renowned producer Yoon Suk-ho, a conclusive work to his previous successes of “Autumn in My Heart,’’ “Winter Sonata’’ and “Summer Scent.’’ The combination of Producer Yoon’s success as a leading Hallyu or Korean Wave producer and Henney’s appeal abroad brought foreign media, including from the Philippines and Indonesia, to a press conference of the actors and producer of “Spring Waltz,’’ following the preview of the drama at Yongsan CGV in Seoul.
“Spring Waltz’’ is a love story of two young sweethearts who meet again after losing touch for 15 years, which is set against the backdrop of Austria’s continental beauty and spring in Korea’s South Cholla Province. Similar to Yoon’s previous works, “Spring Waltz’’ also focuses on a fateful love based on childhood memory. Even before being shown in Korea, it has added new momentum to the Korean Wave hallyu, by signing contracts for broadcast rights with nine countries including Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Macao, Brunei and the Philippines.
This time Henney plays Philip, a global manager of successful pianist Jae-ha. The character is a mixed son of an Austrian father and a Korean mother who has an urbane appearance, manner and love of music. Along with Henney, actor Seo Do-young and actresses Han Hyo-joo and Lee So-yeon, who are relatively new faces in the entertainment circle, will star in Yoon’s latest drama.
“Philip in a new drama is different from Henry Kim in `My Lovely Sam-soon.’ Philip is more of a playboy, active and popular, whereas Henry Kim was shy and extremely pure,’’ said Henney. As if absorbed into the character, a dandy aura seems to have replaced his previous shyness when he was playing Henry Kim.
According to the drama’s producer Yoon, initially Philip’s character did not exist. However, after seeing Henney in audition, Yoon became attracted to the actor’s unique facial expressions, exotic image and gestures that are rarely seen in Korean actors. So the producer decided to create a new role just for him.
“I really enjoy working with the producer. He pays extreme attention to every detail. Every time he discovers a specific color or shape, he would stop and shoot. I feel a great pressure to satisfy him,’’ said the 26-year-old Henney.
Like Henry Kim in the former drama, in “Spring Waltz,’’ his character again becomes involved in a difficult love triangle between his best friend Jae-ha over Eun-young. “If I were in such a situation, it always depends on the level of love involved in the relationship. Love is a very powerful thing and I think it is always right to pursue what I feel,’’ said Henney.
He also expressed his anxiety over the drama as he believes it will determine whether people consider him a serious actor or not.
“While Henry Kim appears to be without a childhood, Philip experiences difficulty with his parents from a young age and grows up scarred. Because he is a character with a past, delicate acting skills to express his internal feelings are importantly required,’’ he said.
As Korean is not a native language for Henney, Korean lines in the drama are the biggest challenge for him in making his acting natural. Most of his lines in the drama are either English or Austrian, reflecting the mixed-race and international background of Philip’s character.
“Reading Korean language script is the most difficult part for me. It’s very trying. And actors, they speak so fast,’’ he said. “In the early stage of the drama, since the character grew up in a foreign country, his Korean speaking is limited to phrases like, `it’s cool,’ and `that’s strange.’ It is lower than my actual Korean level. However, my Korean lines become longer as the drama unfolds, and longer phrases are still challenging for me.’’
It is up to viewers to judge whether he will be able to overcome a language barrier and make “Spring Waltz’’ a meaningful turning point of his acting career. It will air from next Monday.