[INTERVIEW] 'Comic character is harder to portray than villain role'
Posted : 2017-04-12 09:43
Updated : 2017-04-12 19:15
Actor Namkoong Min telks about his role in "Good Manager"
By Park Jin-hai
Actor Namkoong Min / Courtesy of 935 Entertainment
"Good Manager," the recently finished KBS workplace comedy, surprised many viewers. The initially downplayed drama with no star cast, which aired in the same time slot as the big budget drama "Saimdang, Memoir of Colors," not only beat its rival in four episodes, but also has kept it top place in the viewership ratings until the last episode.
Namkoong Min ― who portrayed cheeky accountant Kim Sung-ryong with manic laughter and dogged persistence ― has been credited for the unexpected success of the show for his great acting ability, freely flowing from comic to serious and back.
"Since November, I feel like I've been racing non-stop at full speed. My character is very talkative and I had to do so many lines each day. I sometimes lost 1.5 kilograms in a single day," said the 39-year-old actor, who has been having the busiest time in his near 20-year acting career, during an interview with The Korea Times, Tuesday.
Yet, he added he also felt so much affection for the character. "I have been involved in building the character from head to toe… His hair style, facial expressions, vocal tones and every other detail," Namkoong added.
His character Kim with a questionable moral compass enters TQ Group aiming for bigger "kickbacks" to leave "Hell Korea" for Denmark with its developed welfare system. But, after becoming involved in a series of events including accidentally saving a pedestrian from a car accident, Kim becomes praised as a national hero by others. He slowly becomes a real hero, who stands up to fight against greater corruption within the workplace to save the ailing company.
Namkoong, who impressed viewers with his strong villainous character in the SBS legal thriller "Remember: War of the Son" last year, says his latest comedic character was much hard to depict than a villain.
"This comic character has been much harder to play than an evil character. When I was playing the villain, the only thing that I had to do was to let go of myself and focus on pulling up all the evil within me. And I also had time to focus on the role then, because I didn't appear in every scene," said he said. "This time, there were almost no scenes where Kim didn't appear and I had to express his comic side in diverse ways. Compared with the enormous efforts an actor makes, I think comedy is the genre in which an actor can hardly get as much acclaim from viewers. I have not made any decision on my next project, but comedy will not be the choice."
As for the acting tips, he says he doesn't make comparisons nor try to act for the sake of being different from past roles.
"When I keep thinking of my earlier roles or projects and trying to differentiate myself from those, I lose the pureness of acting. If I had worked hard only to play Kim differently from my previous comic characters, I may have achieved the purpose but I know that I would have lost something bigger ― failing to focus on my role and ending up with bad acting. Even if the character looks similar, I just try to completely become the person."
Although many say that the actor is having the best time of his career, he disagreed. "This is a time I should be weary of, not relish on the moment of success. The popularity that I enjoy has come because I met a great role and when it came I was prepared," he said humbly.
He noted that ironically his successful 2011 drama "Can You Hear My Heart?" which brought him recognition taught him a lesson. "After the drama, the viewers' response was very strong. But, in the two years afterwards, I didn't get back to work, because I had certain characters in mind that I wanted to do next and was picky on my next role. I skipped five projects over the years, because they were supporting roles," he said. "Then I realized that I should give more thought on how well I could portray any given character, rather than playing roles that can look cool on screens. Adding to my filmography and keeping on studying acting seems to have brought me to where I am today."