Lee Jae Wook Reveals Why He Initially Turned Down “Alchemy Of Souls,” Who He Wants To Win Best Couple With, And More
Following the conclusion of “Alchemy of Souls Part 2,” lead actor Lee Jae Wook has dished on his first impression of the drama, behind-the-scenes stories, and more!
Set in the fictional nation of Daeho, “Alchemy of Souls” is a fantasy romance drama about people whose fates become twisted due to magic that swaps people’s souls. After Part 1 of the drama stole viewers’ hearts this past summer, “Alchemy of Souls” returned last month with Part 2, which is set three years after the end of Part 1. Part 2 aired its finale on January 8, achieving the drama’s highest viewership ratings across both parts with 9.7 percent.
Lee Jae Wook recently sat down for an interview with Xportsnews to talk about the drama’s conclusion, his character, chemistry with his co-stars, and much more! Lee Jae Wook began, “I feel that we concluded our one-year project well so I’m happy. I want to thank all the viewers who tuned in to ‘Alchemy of Souls.'”
As “Alchemy of Souls” is an entirely fictional fantasy historical drama with no history or background, Lee Jae Wook was asked his first impression of the script. He replied, “I was flustered. As you know, it was an incredibly difficult set-up and the situations were novel so it was hard to imagine [the script]. It was a script with new spaces and settings.”
Lee Jae Wook then revealed, “To be honest, I turned it down at first.” He elaborated, “It was too difficult and I wondered whether I’d be able to pull this project off well. However, I think I came to do it solely out of my desire to take on a new challenge. From the actor’s perspective, I’m incredibly satisfied with the results. Also, isn’t this a drama you don’t know when you’ll encounter again? I’m counting on the fact that I concluded well.”
While Lee Jae Wook’s character Jang Wook was more bright and cheerful in Part 1, he undergoes an extreme transformation and emerges as a dark monster in Part 2. The actor remarked, “I thought that the gap between the character of Wook in Parts 1 and 2 was big. When I did a reading with the writer, they also expressed their hopes that I’d think of and portray [Jang Wook of] Part 1 and 2 as two different characters. In order to showcase entirely different characters, I removed Jang Wook’s voice tone and tried to speak concisely and stiffly in my daily life too.”
Another big change from Part 1 and 2 was the female lead. While Jung So Min starred in Part 1 as the female lead Mu Deok/Naksu, her character eventually evolved into Jin Bu Yeon/Naksu played by Go Yoon Jung for Part 2. Despite this, Lee Jae Wook shared, “The situation of the female lead changing in Part 2 was not a big problem for me.”
Within Lee Jae Wook and Go Yoon Jung’s relationship in Part 2, there were certain lines said by Jang Wook that seemed to erase what happened three years prior, much to the shock and disappointment of fans. Regarding this, Lee Jae Wook commented, “After Wook had decided to die, his emotions then were honestly made up of the feeling ‘let’s make this woman my wife.’ As what he wanted was death, [he thought] if I have this woman, I will be able to achieve the death I longed for for three years. That’s why the only person within Jang Wook’s boundaries was Jin Bu Yeon.”
Lee Jae Wook also touched on his kiss scene with Go Yoon Jung, which she appeared to lead. “During rehearsals, the director said ‘I am Bu Yeon’ and pushed me around. I think the director wanted to express that Bu Yeon had taken a step into Wook’s boundaries. Since Jang Wook was so closed-off, I believe that they directed a scene where Jin Bu Yeon came in and opened up our relationship once more.”
Dishing on his chemistry with both female stars, Lee Jae Wook shared, “For starters, So Min has experienced many projects so her fundamental proficiency is clearly evident on set,” and added that she has a clear set of know-hows as a veteran actress.
He continued, “Yoon Jung is an incredibly bright person. It’s to the point where her positive energy is out of this world. It’s not easy to film without losing your smile but she made me think, ‘The entire set atmosphere can change just because of one person.'” Lee Jae Wook shared, “I want to pick that as her forte. It must have been incredibly difficult while working on Part 2 but she never once lost her smile.”
When asked about why he thinks “Alchemy of Souls” was able to garner so much popularity both in Korea and overseas, Lee Jae Wook picked the director and writer, as well as the cast and their close bond. He talked about relying heavily on his co-stars Hwang Minhyun, Shin Seung Ho, Yoo In Soo, Seo Hye Won, Oh My Girl‘s Arin, and more before adding, “I also had the hope that they would rely on me too. I believe that comfortable environment in itself created our chemistry.”
Elaborating on their chemistry, Lee Jae Wook shared, “With regards to Minhyun, there are a lot of aspects I’m jealous of. He’s good looking, good at singing, tall, and good at action scenes. To be honest, I thought, ‘I must be better at acting,’ but that was a great miscalculation. I learned a lot from him as my senior Hwang Minhyun, and not just as a hyung.”
“I believe both Seung Ho and In Soo each have different charms,” he continued. “I was able to feel what a fun and rewarding thing it was for people like this to gather and create a scene. Since they’re such passionate people, I learned a lot.”
The interviewer asked Lee Jae Wook who he wants to win a Best Couple award with and the actor answered, “I can only say one person. Me and the prince,” who is played by Shin Seung Ho. The actor touched on how many bloopers the pair created together as well as their many improvisations, sharing, “The scenes where I meet with Seung Ho are all word play from start to finish. [When improvising,] It’s a skill to match your character and situation without straying from the story but Seung Ho is an actor who’s incredibly good at those things.” He added, “You can just think of all the fun, giggly scenes as improvisations.”
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