Do you live as an actress, or were you born as one?
Many people ask that. They say that what you’re born with is more important than the effort you put in. Then there are other people who say that effort is more important than what you were born with. I have thought about this a lot. To start things off, the first one seems like passion. If ‘genius’ can be applied here, that would be very good. One would be able to say that they possess the best requirement to survive in this competitive field if they were also assisted by acquired talent, right? Just choosing one side is difficult to do. Upon working, there are situations where my natural talent comes into play, and then there are situations where my acquired talent comes into play. Passion is the most important thing to me above anything else.
When is it the most difficult being an actor?
Honestly, the fact that this job is taxing on the body isn’t a problem. When we work, no matter how difficult it is, superhuman strength comes out from within. That is a moment when I’m not currently enjoying this work. Times like that are when it is miserable and painful. Once again, it’s repetitive work, and I think to myself that I have already done this before. We’re people who possess sensitivity and originality. However we look at it, we can call it art. However, when we get into a routine, we’re bound to feel boredom. At times like that, a mental slump finds me.
Can you talk a little more about the slumps?
The slumps occur during peaceful and smooth times. For example, let’s talk about the so-called word ‘daebak’, which we think of when the ratings are good and think things like “It’ll great,” and “I’ll be happy.” However, the sense of emptiness and burden afflict me at the same time. I have to find that thing that allows my desires to overflow and I have to find the thing that will allow me to surpass everyone’s expectations. On the contrary, when things don’t go well, I don’t look around and I don’t take risks, I just do my work. Of course, I like it when things work out as opposed to when they don’t. When I talk about things like emptiness and solitude, I have a “happy” worry when I’m complaining about my luck.
What is it that you put emphasis on while working?
There has to be meaning. That meaning is always different. It could be a project that allows me to study acting, it could be a project where I want to work with a great director, or it could be a project with the possibility of commercial success. There have been situations where I went in and things were different than my expectations. That happened a lot. However, I didn’t waver that much. There are no situations that unfold as you desire as you live your life. If work went as planned, everything would be a success. However, I don’t cling to the results. If a project does well, I gain a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, and if it doesn’t do well, I learn from it. Choosing a project isn’t like solving a mathematical problem.
What’s your method to get into character?
I match the character’s clothes to my body. It’s like there are two sides to this. In my circumstances, I’m the type whose colors really reflect in a character. For example, when I’m happy, I look different when I smile. This person’s smiling technique and that person’s smiling technique…the character is standing as portrayed in the synopsis, but the character will be different depending on who plays the character. For example, with a bubbly character, every person’s concentration and level of bubbliness is different.
Is there a question mark attached to your expressive technique?
I really don’t like that situation. The best method seems to be going home, but I can’t do that. On the contrary, I put everything down. My “ideal” is high, but when it feels like I can’t reach it, I feel a sense of shrinking. When that happens, my work doesn’t go well. Therefore, I lower my “ideal”. It’s a spell to collect my shrinking heart. If I think things such as “I’m a crazy bitch”, “I’m a bitch without convictions” and “If this situation stays the same, my heart will open up”, things get better.
You’ve done well since your debut, right?
I have had many experiences where I have received a lot of love from places that I had never expected. If someone asks why I’m talking about this, it doesn’t matter if I’m walking down my intended path or not. Up until now, I have attained satisfactory results, and I’m at a position where I have received acknowledgement and love from people, so I’m definitely not at liberty to complain.
You have done many types of activities, not just acting.
It’s the same thing. A lot of opportunities have come to me in a place that I didn’t plan to be at, and there are many instances of the path I’m going down becoming much clearer. I want to survey every possibility, so I’m always looking at many different places. Any project, be it a drama or movie, has an eternal output. Also, when I watch a project of mine that’s completed, I feel attached to it as if my own child was appearing. On stage, the heat and the joy of the site exists, along with the communication with the fans. They all seem to be different sources of pleasure for me.
How is life like when you’re always in other peoples’ sight and receiving appraisals from them?
At first, I was excited and happy that people had interest in me. It felt like I was receiving and had a special existence. As times passes, I become numb to it all, but there are good and bad points to feeling like that. No, depending on how you look at it, there are areas where I have become careful about things. In the beginning, everything was always good, and if I were to make a mistake, it always felt like an opportunity for me to recover would present itself, and that people would always forgive me. However, now it’s just good to receive attention, and the concept of this method isn’t disappointing me now, and my thoughts of being more careful and having to show a good side to myself have increased. I’m even become cautious about trivial things.
What aspects of your daily life have diminished due to your cautiousness?
Truthfully, there’s no “daily life” for me. There’s nothing I particularly enjoy doing, so I just recharge my energy by resting at home.
How about dating?
Back when I was enjoying a normal life, I always had the desire to love. It seems like I’m looking into the distant future. In about ten years, I may become a mother with some kids. But lately, I’ve just been thinking about how to tackle my weekly schedule that’s right in front of me. Back then, if I were to label myself as an idealist, now I would be considered a ‘constructed’ realist. Looking at it, I have strived to not even have any interest in dating. I don’t even have palpitations. I feel like a very accomplished woman. I think I can live my raising a puppy.
All of the men won’t just stand idly by!
I hope they don’t, but at the same time, I have no time. I can’t even start. Through the process of dating, people can find out whether they’re a match or not, but that doesn’t work for me. Enjoying the process is the beauty of dating, but I’m already stressed ahead of time. If I meet someone once, people will end up saying things like “Where is she with whom?”, “Those two are meeting” and “Those two are dating”. After meeting a few times and a scandal arises, before we even start dating, I’ve already become “someone who’s ready for marriage”. When I think of all of the things that could arise like that, I think things like “Hey, don’t be down on yourself. It turns out like this. It was the same with mom. Though I do want to date in my youthful years, as I gain one thing, I have to throw away one thing. If I know that I have the confidence that I won’t regret it down the road, try it.” Because it isn’t something that I will regret, that’s more of a reason as to why I can’t do it.
Among the people you’re close with, who are of those friends?
God! When I’m having a really difficult time, he’s the friend that I want to lean against. My mother is the friend that is protecting me from the side during difficult and good times. I have some friends from when I was younger where we would do all sorts of normal things together. Now that I came here together with my mom, it’s not the same, seeing as all of my family and friends are in the U.S., even just a little while ago I was very lonely. The solitude without a visible end was very dark and I had no idea what to do. Now my life and thoughts have simplified. Is it because I’ve become used to this? Or maybe I have transcended? Did I just give up? Become more mature? I don’t know. It seems like I know have the heart of a middle-aged woman. I say “hmph” to this and to that. I haven’t started nor created things that I should be worried about.
(Translator’s Note: This is Ye Seul’s 2010 Elle interview.)
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview