Lee Ji Ah Talks About Playing Two Characters In “The Penthouse ,” Shim Soo Ryun’s Changes Through 3 Seasons, And More
“The Penthouse” was Lee Ji Ah’s first return to dramas in two years and became a success in terms of ratings and buzz, each episode’s twists and turns becoming a hot topic as the drama continued for three seasons before coming to an end.
Lee Ji Ah played Shim Soo Ryun, who starts out in “The Penthouse” as the elegant and wealthy queen of Hera Palace, the luxury penthouse apartment where a number of shocking incidents takes place.
The actress said, “Neither my first shoot nor my last shoot felt quite real. From the very first shoot, I had to do a dramatic emotional scene. It’s not easy to do an extreme emotional scene before you can build up experience with your character. As time went on, I became immersed into the character, until I’d spent a year and a half as Shim Soo Ryun. On our last shoot, it didn’t feel real that this would be the last time I would be her. I still don’t feel like ‘The Penthouse’ is over.”
Lee Ji Ah also played another character in the drama, Na Ae Gyo, who looks exactly like Shim Soo Ryun and has a mysterious connection with her. Lee Ji Ah said, “The first thing I had to do was think carefully about the different lives that Na Ae Gyo and Shim Soo Ryun had led. Na Ae Gyo has hit rock bottom in her life and is rougher and bolder than the innocent and pure Shim Soo Ryun, who has lived her whole life cherished and loved. When the two of them met, Shim Soo Ryun still hadn’t gone through any major events in her life yet.”
She continued, “The second thing I had to do was think about their different emotions and situations. Na Ae Gyo was jealous of Soo Ryun’s life, which she couldn’t have, but she also comes to trust her. Shim Soo Ryun was scornful of Na Ae Gyo’s behavior toward her at first, but she feels sorry for her after learning of her pain.”
In particular, Shim Soo Ryun undergoes a number of changes, both external and internal, over the three seasons of “The Penthouse.” Lee Ji Ah said, “Shim Soo Ryun experiences so many things and changes the most of all the characters in the drama. She’s a naive and innocent person in season one, but she also has an internal strength. In season two, I was able to show a more clever, resourceful Shim Soo Ryun, who went into hiding for two years as Na Ae Gyo. She takes more risks and gets involved in action scenes in order to get cathartic revenge. But in season three, she slowly becomes evil herself in order to get rid of evil.”
The actress continued, “The things Shim Soo Ryun goes through and her revenge are at the heart of the story. I had to be really careful in how I portrayed her, and I wanted to show how her pure white image was slowly overtaken by darkness. It was a big challenge for me as an actor, because she wasn’t a simple one-sided character. There were a lot of people who were disappointed that Shim Soo Ryun was no longer a ‘good’ character in season three. But I wonder if Shim Soo Ryun would have been able to stop Joo Dan Tae and Cheon Seo Jin if she hadn’t turned evil. When I think about what she’s been through, and her desire to protect her children, I think that she had some justification in self-defence. I wanted Shim Soo Ryun to realize just what cruelty Joo Dan Tae and Cheon Seo Jin were capable of. If Soo Ryun didn’t stop these characters who had absolutely no conscience, then I think that she and her children would have continued to suffer.”
Watch “The Penthouse 3” below!