She was a woman we envied so much the past few months. Goo Ae-jung of MBC TV series “The Greatest Love” who was loved by Dokgo Jin, Korea’s hottest star and Yoon Pil-joo, the man who was perfect in every way. But it is probably actress Gong Hyo-jin’s acting capability that made viewers be jealous of yet not hate Goo.
What was most impressive about the Gong that 10Asia met with was her attitude which did not contain an ounce of doubt when it comes to loving and being loved. We may live in times where it is getting increasingly difficult not to doubt the love and interest one shows you but Gong was a woman who does not run away from it thinking it is excessive nor accept it as being natural and instead knows how to be thankful for it. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Q: You played the role of a female character who received an unrealistic amount of love from two men. How was the experience? Were you happy about your character Goo Ae-jung?
Gong Hyo-jin (GHJ): I liked her a lot. And rather than being like a straight arrow or weed, I’d compare her to a wild flower that somehow blossomed on a freeway. And I could tell why she’s loved and why she’s attractive. I mean, to start with, she has such a good heart. She also won’t let herself get dragged into trouble and is thankful for even the smallest things she has while staying calm about everything that happens to her. Of course, I’m sure it comes from the experience of living ten years as a celebrity with an undesirable image. (laugh)
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of male actors before but I think the energy you got from working with Cha Seung-won must’ve been very different.
GHJ: It was an energy I had never felt before. To start with, I’d worked mostly with actors my age outside of “Snowman” but Cha was, how should I put it… A macho. (laugh) A very cute macho. I was very nervous about working with him at first because he’s an adult and he’s much more experienced than me. But we become comfortable with each other very quickly. There are actors that are hard to get close to, because they’ll try to be charismatic. But he was just someone who naturally oozed charisma. He was like Dokgo Jin, to me. And he still seems like Dokgo Jin to me.
Q: I had felt this before too but it was through “The Greatest Love” in particular that I felt that you were an actress with a good sense of balance. It seemed like you focus most on the actor that is standing in front of you, rather than focusing on your own acting. And that’s why I think that’s why the drama was able to be balanced even with a somewhat excessive character like Dokgo Jin.
Kong: You’re correct in that I’m someone who does my acting depending on my scene partner’s acting. Because I have to listen to the other person’s lines to remember my own lines. That’s actually what dialogue is about, right? But I think Cha would probably be able to do his acting even if I weren’t there because he memorized everybody’s lines, not just his. He’s someone who can start acting out his own line even if he were cut off midway but I’m someone that needs to hear the line before mine to act out mine so we’re completely different people.
Q: Director Kim Tae-yong said you’re an actress who is great at concentrating in particular. That you have the ability to be in the moment, even if you don’t know what’s going on completely.
GHJ: Well this may seem like a cliche answer but you can’t get scared the moment the camera starts rolling. Instead, I get this momentary energy when I think to myself, ‘Everyone look at me. Look at how good I am.’ I place faith in myself and believe in myself. Listening to music and the sort only gets me more nervous because it pulls my mood down. So I’ll just sit at ease and then the moment we go into shoot, immerse myself completely momentarily. If Dokgo Jin was in front of me and I loved him, I wouldn’t be able to help myself from looking at him with loving eyes because I really love him, not smile using my mind and facial muscles. And I’ll believe that what I’m feeling in my heart will get delivered to viewers through my muscles in a quiet yet proper way. I think that the moment I need to do some acting, that I need to do something about the acting, is when the unnecessary details start coming in.
Q: But I’m sure you can’t help yourself from having such thoughts when you’re acting because you want to do well. So how do you stop yourself?
GHJ: Well there have been times where I’ve read my script and have thought I’ll probably have to wail for a certain scene but the scene doesn’t turn out to be sad once we film it. So if I feel that wailing is too much, I’d change it to me holding back on my sadness. I trust in myself. That what I’m doing is right, that my emotions are making the right judgement. I don’t force myself to do things.
Q: For example?
GHJ: In “The Greatest Love,” Dokgo Jin told Goo Ae-jung about his condition to her for the first time before she goes into her press conference, right? And in the script, it said that Goo will cry a lot but it wasn’t working for me once we got on set to shoot the scene. It also wasn’t like he was standing in front of me with his head shaved so I just didn’t see him as someone who was going to die. (laugh) And it was because I felt that it didn’t make sense to hear his story and feel sad about it so quickly. I felt that I wouldn’t believe it, that he was lying. So I stuck to my judgement and didn’t cry. Of course, I had also wondered to myself whether I had made the right decision or not.
Q: Do you think a lot about such scenes you wonder about even after you’ve shot them or do you just forget about them?
GHJ: I think about them quite a bit. (laugh) Things such as was I acting too calm? Did I laugh too much here? But I don’t think being enthusiastic in every scene is the way to go about acting because it’ll tire out even the viewer. Plus you can’t emphasize what you want to emphasize.
Q: Like so, there are moments an actor needs to tune himself or herself to their characters but I think there must’ve been moments that your real self and Goo overlapped.
GHJ: Those moments… came about quite often. Especially in the final episode. Because I just felt so happy to be with my man. I had become completely possessed with the person who loves Dokgo Jin. So much that I was asking myself if I’m going too far with being happy. I was so happy.
Q: I’m sure you’ve been told a lot that you’ve become pretty while working on this drama.
GHJ: It’s because I’ve learned the tricks to acting coquettish starting from when I worked on “Pasta.” I’ve learned a variety of skills including the angle that makes the actress look most loveable when looking at the actor and then to look straight into his eyes yet sort of look away when he looks at you… (laugh) And Cha Seung-won was so tall that I was always looking up at him which I think is an angle which made me look particularly pretty.
Q: It’s not often that a tall actress will get to work with a tall actor.
GHJ: That’s right. Dokgo Jin was tall enough to make my neck fold back when he hugged me. And our ‘recharge’ sessions would always take place at home but it’s not like I could wear heals at home (laugh) so I benefitted a lot from him. Plus he looks so masculine that I in comparison looked fair-skinned.
(to be continued)
Vietnamese translation: here