Actor Song Chang-ui finds empathy in homosexual role
``If I had been worried about my image I wouldn’t have taken this role. I hope that the lives of homosexuals will be acknowledged and be a little bit happier through this drama of ours.’’
The 31-year-old Song Chang-ui, who plays the gay character of Yang Tae-sub in the weekend drama ``Life is Beautiful’’ (SBS), told about his latest small-screen role in an interview with Yonhap News Agency Thursday in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.
It was only four months ago, when the series first began to air, that he confessed this role was difficult for him to fulfill. Now, he approaches the part with poise.
The drama saw ratings shoot up to 20 percent after the coming out of Song’s character and is now following the storyline of his upcoming wedding to partner Kyung-soo. The bold move in the drama is due to scriptwriter Kim Soo-hyun ― a legend in the screenwriting business ― who approached the relationship without hesitation, giving detailed development to the homosexual characters.
Although Kim has been both praised and panned for her openness with the subject, ratings have shown that viewers are largely accepting the relationship that is delicately handled in the plot.
``If I was told to take on a difficult role, I wouldn’t be able to do it like this,’’ Song said. ``If I’m embarrassed do you think I’d be able to act? In the script, Kim Soo-hyun uses expressions that are within my limits to do.’’
I think that I’m able to act naturally because she unravels the story to a level that I can understand.’’
In fact, the success is truly Kim’s, the actor added.
``The strength of the writer is immense when they work in a way that the actor can understand and perform, even if the expression is difficult or if there are problems.’’
``I knew that Kim Soo-hyun was an impressive writer but reading this script I was surprised again. I was impressed that every emotion was so subtly defined and that, so much more than I was expecting, the details were alive.’’
Song said some of the more touching scenes to him included the date his character had with Kyung-soo and the first time his partner’s mother came looking for him, enraged and unable to understand the relationship.
``I was thinking of what I would do if I were the character, and the writer had already written it that way into the script.’’
When asked if his opinion of homosexuality was changed by his role in the drama, Song hesitated for a moment.
``That’s a difficult and important question, but I don’t think my thinking has changed. It’s just that I’m more familiar with it,’’ the actor said. ``I think that our drama has made viewers talk about homosexuality, whether they like it or not. And if people complain about the story of Tae-sub and Kyung-soo, I don’t think that they look at them (the couple) poorly. I think that is a distinct comfort to homosexuals.’’
Song added: ``I don’t know if Tae-sub and Kyung-soo will get married or not, but I hope that, like the drama’s title, everyone will be happier.’’
‘인생은 아름다워’ 동성애자 역 송창의의 생각
“이미지 관리를 생각했다면 이 역 맡지 않았겠죠. 우리 드라마를 통해서 동성애자들의 삶이 좀 더 알려지고, 행복해지길 바랍니다.” SBS 주말드라마 “인생은 아름다워” 에서 ‘태섭’ 역으로 동성애를 연기하는 송창의가 고양 탄현 촬영장에서 연합뉴스와의 인터뷰에서 밝힌 바램이다.
이 31살 배우가 자신의 정체성과는 다른 역할에 차분하게 적응하기 까지는 4개월이란 시간이 걸렸다. ‘태섭’의 커밍 아웃 이후 드라마의 시청률은 20% 안팎으로 치솟았고 지금 ‘태섭’은 극중 ‘경수’ 와의 결혼식을 앞두고 있다. 극중 동성애코드를 꺼내든 김수현 작가는 파격적이고 구체적인 묘사로 주말 안방극장에 논란을 불러일으켰다.
“ 김 작가님께서는 대사나 극중 상황의 수위 조절을 참 잘하세요. 제가 충분히 소화 할 수 있는 범위 안에서 표현을 해주세요. 너무 표현이 안 돼도, 또 너무 과해도 문제인데 배우가 이해하고 연기할 수 있게 해주시니 작가님의 힘이 대단하신 거죠."
동성애에 대한 그의 생각은 변함이 없다고 한다. “힘들고 중요한 질문인데, 제 생각이 바뀌진 않은 것 같아요. 다만 좀더 친근해진 것은 있죠. 전 이제 주변에 동성애자가 있으면 그냥 바라봐줄 것 같아요. 우리 드라마로 어느새 싫든 좋든 시청자들이 동성애에 대한 이야기를 하게 되었다고 생각해요.”
논란으로만 보면 현저할 것 같았던 시청률 변동도 눈에 띄지 않는다. 시청자들이 드라마의 동성애 코드를 받아들인 탓일까? 그 와중에 송창의의 연기는 더욱 섬세해지고 있다.