There’s one “I”, but various “roles”. This isn’t just the story of an actress. In the society, “I” receive titles such as the daugther of, the friend, the sunbae, the lover of someone. If you’re faithful to a role, whatever it is, it is not easy to be good at it. Is it how it is? During the end-year ceremonies, actors who managed to remain true to their image who is almost like their roles receive awards. Actress Kim Ji Won captured the essence of the evil character of Yoo Rachel in drama “The Heirs” and won the “New Star” award at the SBS Drama Awards 2013. Actors only have one chance to get this rookie award in their career and their next work creates expectation. Kim Ji Won chose tvN’ Mon-Tues drama “Gap-Dong” for her next project.
Follow-up to tvN Mon-Tues “I Need Romance 3″, “Gap-Dong” sounds like a comedy just by hearing its title. What kind of role do you play?
It’s not. “Gap-Dong” is a thriller. I play Ma Ji Wool, a high school student who writes webtoons under the name “Mathilda”. If you can say that Kim Ji Won in “High Kick” was a mature high school student and Yoo Rachel in “The Heirs” was emotionless. Ma Ji Wool is a cute and brave kid. When she cries, she cries, when she laughs, she laughs. That’s why I’m trying my best to express my emotions a lot these days.
Do you change your lifestyle to match a character you play?
I do. When I take on a role, I have many concerns. When I played Rachel, I watched Kim Eun Sook’s previous dramas in order not to be awkward with the strong lines and I researched on the dialogue tone. I looked for and listened to songs similar to her emotions. I also kept repeating my lines everyday to be comfortable with the words.
When I listen to you, you sound either you’re very ambitious, either a perfectionist, which one of the two are you?
I am both, but since I’m a rookie, I think it’s natural for me to try my best to be true to my characters. Sometimes, when I try to be perfect and I can’t meet my own expectations, I’m upset all day long. I go home and I keep dwelling on it. If I don’t like what I see when I monitor myself, I can even cry. These days, I’m trying my best to come up with ways to empty my mind and just enjoy, but…
So you never have moments when you tell yourself “I did very well”? You received high praises for your role of Yoo Rachel.
I think people saw me in a very good way. I lacked a lot, but I feel like it was all thanks to writer Kim Eun Sook, director Kim Shin Hyo and the good actors. That’s why I’m worried about my next project and I feel the pressure.
Judging from what you said before, it seems like you’re trying your best to reduce the stress and the pressure.
I watch similar characters in dramas and movies. Ma Ji Wool can draw and I practice to not look work awkward with this image. I realized that I can be awkward even just when I stand in front of the camera and turn a door handle. So it also happens that when I open a door at home, I tell myself “how would I open the door if there was a camera in my room?” and I turn the door handle.
Choi Mimi in movie “Romantic Heaven” and Yoo Rachel in “The Heirs” are two opposite characters. While researching for these characters, I think you must have grown fond of these roles.
Choi Mimi seems to have lost screws and is a character with a real charm. If the dialogue is funny, it can’t work if I laugh too. At that time, I’d keep rehearsing in front of director Jang Jin until the moment we’d film. Later on, the director told me “what are you worrying about? You are Choi Mimi”. At some extent, I felt sympathy for Yoo Rachel. Ah, it’s not sympathy. In a documentary, they showed kids who didn’t want to be in talent shows, but their mothers listened to their own ambition and turned them into talent shows stars. There was a scene when Rachel told her mother “I’m not a new product”, I cried a lot while filming this scene with the emotion I had when I watched this documentary.
You debuted in 2010, so this year is the 5th year of your actress career and you received an award. Was being an actress your original dream?
When I was a kid, I watched people singing and acting on TV and I thought it was fun. When I was in my 3rd year of middle school, I was street cast. Hm… They wanted to make sure I had some talent. I wondered if I failed the audition and study, or if it wouldn’t be a good thing to do well, what would be good for me… This was when I entered the trainee life.
So did you run into problems to enjoy the culture your peers enjoyed during your school days?
I didn’t really have this kind of thought until my first year of high school when there were self-study and school trips. When I started my second year of high school, I couldn’t really see my friends, so that’s when I had this kind of thought. While working, I realized I really needed to practice, I felt like I was like my friends going to private academies after school, except that I went to my agency and practiced.
To be honest, there are many outstanding actors and singers among your peers. Are you the type to bend every effort in order to distinguish yourself from them?
I don’t feel this way. Instead of thinking “I must be the best” and showing my pride, I think about showing sincere acting that viewers will enjoy. When people immerse themselves into a drama, they don’t call the actor’s name, they call “Rachel, that little evil girl”. That’s how I like it. My only concern was being able to show myself as Rachel and I was pleased about how things turned out.
In moments like this, you probably think “I’m really good at acting”.
Ah, that… You know, the average person can’t spill all of their feelings. But the actor maximizes the emotion to express it. When I shoot a scene, I can be really true to my emotion. Wether there are NGs or not, I feel very relieved inside when I get to act like that. When I completely pour out my feelings, there are times when I think “being an actor is a great job”. I’m the kind of person who can’t say a word when I fight with someone and later I go “ah, this what I should have said” and I have regrets. This isn’t something I hate about myself, but since I play characters who have an opposite personality to mine, it brings me relief and it’s fun.
You seem to talk about Yoo Rachel. Is this character the strongest memory you keep?
I’m still a rookie actess, so I haven’t played many roles. If you were to ask me to choose [the most memorable memory] I wouldn’t be able to pick one. I’m happy about the CF for Oran-C that put my name out there. I’m happy that I was able to meet director Jang Jin while filming my first movie “Romantic Heaven”. I’m happy that I was able to do a musical drama like “What’s Up”. I was happy to film “High Kick” while I was in middle school.
In “What’s Up”, you show perfect skills in singing and piano playing.
These are things I worked on while I was a trainee and I think it helped me with my acting. In a context like this, I wanted to do horseback riding as a hobby because I heard it was good to correct your pelvis position. When you’re in a car, you often crouch while you’re on standby. Besides, I kind of expect to be called to film a saeguk if I can ride a horse… Hehe.
When I listen to what you say, I think about the word “fidelity” [t/n: the reporter uses the English word] which means “fidelity” [t/n: the reporter uses the same Korean word Kim Ji Won used during the itw which I usually translated by "true" or "sincere"]. You lead a sincere acting career.
I want to keep acting like I do today. This is what makes me happy the most. I hope to see my name associated to the term “actress” one day, I want to become an actress who can match this word. That’s why I think the time I spend everyday out of awareness can help me for my acting.
It seems like you had some hard times.
When I debuted, I thought I knew what I was getting into. It seemed easy. However, acting is hard, it’s hard to show myself to people and build a good image. When I talked with this kind of meaning, there were some misunderstandings because that didn’t properly convey my intention.
How would you like to be perceived?
Right now… Hm…. As a good actress. This is my biggest desire.
It’s not too much to say that you started 2014 by living as Ma Ji Wool. Please say a word about your resolution for this role.
I will show another side of me with “Gap-Dong”. I want to be true to my character to make people say “That was her?” and this is fun. I think I’ll be very happy if I hear these words again for my role as Ma Ji Wool.
Original source: 1st Look