Happy Hours and Two Complex Stars
Sept 6, 2006
The film "Our Happy Hours" directed by Song Hae-sung based on the novel by Gong Ji-young features two young stars, Kang Dong-won and Lee Na-young, whose charms dominate the movie. They are still beautiful when crying hard and sitting wearing rumpled prison garb. The movie tells the story of a woman who has tried to kill herself three times when she meets a man who is under death sentence for killing three people. Kang and Lee are like two candles that burn fitfully in the dark.
At a height of 186 cm, Kang nonetheless has a chiseled feminine face. Does he have a complex about the association people often make between good looks and bad acting? "No," he answers. "If I have a pretty face, I like it. I don’t have any problems with my image as an actor. I’m just gradually moving toward being a true actor." What about the fact that he appeals to his women fans more as a younger brother, who seems to need their shoulders to cry on, rather as an older brother they can rely on? Kang smiles. "I like that too. I don’t have to feel much responsibility" to protect those women.
In the film, Kang’s character recalls the day Lee visited and says, "I wish there were only Thursdays in my life." What day does the actor himself wish it was? "I wish every day was yesterday. I was so happy to work on this film, and after the preview and a party to celebrate the completion yesterday, I constantly got text messages saying ‘Thank you for your hard work.’ Seeing the messages, I cried; I couldn’t help myself, realizing that the time has finally come for me to say goodbye to a film I’ll never forget." (The Chosun Ilbo spoke to the stars on Tuesday.)
After the historical action film "Duelist" and the melodrama "Our Happy Hours", Kang is to play a brutal criminal in his next film. His choice of movies reveals his artistic ambitions: "Our Happy Hours" will be the first film where audiences will pay more attention to Kang’s acting than his looks. But this young star is already looking scores of years ahead. "When I retire, I hope people remember me as the some kind of monster, who perfectly absorbed his character in the film and did his job so well to give them goosebumps all over. But I know that I still have a long way to go."
Lee is unusual. Normally, if a star acts true to type over and over, audiences tire of them. But it seems Lee’s mystique is a spring that never dries up. "If all my behavior was calculated, it would have come to light by now. I think it was possible because I tried to show what I am as I am," she says.
When the tears are streaming down Lee’s cheeks, she instinctively turns away and wipes her face, expressing both an unyielding determination not to let the world see what is inside and an excruciating pain that forces her to cry without knowing it. "When I did all the crying scenes in the movie, I felt this terrible pain I have in my knee. In reality, I usually just put up with the pain. When I feel like I’m going to break down, I try to bear it by gritting my teeth."
But Lee is more positive and determined than one might think. She reveals her excitement and pride about her job when she talks about a scene she had to repeat 38 times. "When I started acting, I thought all I had to do was not to fluff the shots. Everyone told me I couldn’t do this job for long because of my personality. But I found it more and more exciting. When I start a new film, I always doubt whether I can do it, but I like the pressure my job puts on me. It’s interesting for people to see an actress like me."