The main cast of “Mr. Idol” pose for the camera during a promotional event last week in Seoul. From left, Ji Hyun-wu, Jay Park, Jang Seo-won and Kim Randy. / Courtesy of Cinergy/Lotte Entertainment
By Lee Hyo-won
K-pop is all the rage as the media has taken notice of fan bases in Europe and beyond, and a new movie will focus on the making of an idol band.
The press junket for “Mr. Idol” (working title) was held in Seoul last week, ahead of a fan meeting in Busan this weekend during the course of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). The country’s largest cinema event kicked off Thursday and continues through Oct. 16.
Ra Hee-chan, who won critical and popular acclaim with 2007’s “Going by the Book,” directed the project.
“It’s a movie that captures young people’s dreams through music,” Ra told reporters. He said the film required a lot of brainstorming to present not only a story and characters but also many musical and performance sequences.
As much as the film features singing and dancing, it stars vocalists-turned-actors including Jay Park, the former leader of top band 2PM.
Park plays one of the four lead characters who come from different walks of life to form an idol band, united by their love of music.
The movie portrays the rigorous training process of the young men, who are musically talented but are far from mass-produced pop material. They nevertheless manage to make a successful debut as Mister Children but a powerful figure in the music industry, played by funnyman Kim Su-ro, tries to interfere with their rise to superstardom.
Park said he learned a lot about the movie-making process while playing a charismatic singer with a flair for dance.
“I learned many things, about cinema, acting, how to prepare lines and how to act when you don’t have lines, among many things. But it’s still very difficult to suppress laughter,” he said.
The cast features another singer, Kim Randy, or 1Kyne of Electroboyz. He plays the role of a Korean adoptee who agrees to debut as a singer in Korea in order to search for his birth mother.
“My character learns the Korean language through rap,” said Kim, who himself was cast as a singer when he was spotted rapping at a bowling place in Texas.
Jang Seo-won, on the other hand, was the only actor without a singing background.
“I was the only member of the cast who actually had to act out the role of an idol,” he said.
“During break time, Randy would practice rapping, Jay would dance endlessly while Ji Hyun-wu played the guitar.”
Popular actor Ji Hyun-wu shared how his past experience as a rock band member affected his role. He plays a passionate singer who only joins the idol group because the talent agency head (played by Ye Ji-won) promises to help him start what he really wants, a rock band. Ji, who had been a guitarist, said his view of pop idols changed as he worked on the film.
“I was in a rock band and I have to admit that I tended to look down on idol singers, particularly since they usually don’t perform live and lip sync,” Ji said.
“While instrumentalists just need to focus on their part in a given performance, idols need to practice singing and dancing and also watch their diet and work out all day long... Through this movie I have developed great admiration for idols.”
The cast members’ fan meeting will take place Saturday at Lotte Cinema Busan, ahead of the film’s release. A Cinergy/Lotte Entertainment release, “Mr. Idol” is slated to open later this month (date to be announced).