When his younger sibling saw the drama Two Outs In The Bottom Of The Ninth and the movie Wonderful Radio, his sibling became his fan. When his mother saw the variety program Qualifications of a Man and the drama A Hundred Year’s Inheritance, she joined the rank of being one of his fans. It was the first time for Lee Jung Jin as a celebrity that his younger sibling and his mother’s paths crossed.
At the time this interview was progressing, Lee Jung Jin’s name was rising up in the top rankings on the real time search results on portal sites. Not long ago, his comment that he said on a quiz program became a topic even before the broadcast of the episode. At the office, the reporters were already asking “Do you have a girlfriend?” by phone, causing a ruckus. He said it in a calm voice. “It’s fine. While it did seem like it was material for a news report during the recording of the program, the reporters and general public will act as they usually do, but when they see the program, they’ll be saying ‘That wasn’t much.’ In a matter of time, everything will fade away. Recently, I can’t remember when a certain event happened on a day, even if a half a day or just a few hours had passed.” He was relaxed and dignified. His appearance continued like this throughout the whole interview. He didn’t falter at all, when it came to sudden popularity or receiving criticism that he was lacking somewhere. It’s not that he’s excluding something, and it’s not that he’s absorbing something and being swayed. That’s his method, and that’s the center of how he created the existence of the actor ‘Lee Jung Jin’. Life is something that I enjoy because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. If I already knew everything, to some extent where would I be if I made my life lethargic? No one knows what the future will be. One could be going down a continuous decline or ascent, but we all go forward without knowing the future.” He’s the type of person who thinks of the future instead of the past.
# The Inheritance of ‘A Hundred Year’s Inheritance’
The long schedule of the 50 episode drama is over. Do you feel carefree now?
Every project is the same. It’s no different with doing a long schedule together with others and receiving attention for the project. I can’t just hold onto things that have already passed by. I shake this (project) off and prepare for something new.
How was it while filming?
When I peeked at twitter, I felt the affection towards A Hundred Year’s Inheritance. I’m the type that confronts every project like that. It was especially good that the rapport between the actors in A Hundred Year’s Inheritance was good, and I thought to myself that the results were better because of rapport was captured in the drama.
Did you gain anything from A Hundred Year’s Inheritance?
If I gained anything, I gained the opportunity to be able to approach the viewers in a better project since many people had a lot of interest in A Hundred Year’s Inheritance and the ratings were good. I think that’s the biggest thing.
Looking at the recent interview that you did, all of the reporters asked you about the “makjang” controversy.
Yes, they all asked. Since the drama was popular from the start, it seemed like they were dividing everything into good and bad. The ratings shot over 30 percent and the share increased. Now, on the assumption that you turn on the TV, there’s a good chance A Hundred Year’s Inheritance is on. I heard that the last episode’s ratings were 52 percent. More than half of the people watching TV were watching A Hundred Year’s Inheritance, and due to there being many people watching, there were varying opinions coming out from all of the people who liked the drama. I’m thankful for that as opposed to the drama having no response at all.
A specially planned for the weekends airing at 9:50 PM on a Saturday night feels different than a mini-series airing at the same time during the week. For specially planned weekend dramas, the age bracket for the viewers is higher, and there’s a bias that specially planned weekend dramas have less value than a mini-series. When you were selecting A Hundred Year’s Inheritance, didn’t you have any worries that your position would be different because of that aspect?
There is when selecting a project, but it wasn’t a complicated choice. For example, take a look at the movie Pieta. I didn’t choose that project because I wanted to become an actor that was the center of a controversy. However, the result was very good. The world doesn’t revolve as planned. You can’t live while trying to calculate everything and assembling puzzles.
Don’t you sometimes choose things that are hard?
Yes. I look at the overall content. As an actor, it’s easy to just look at your own role. You think ‘that’s mine’. While a project can be ‘mine’, since there’s incredible staff behind us, it becomes ‘ours’. I believe everyone has to go together because of that. By doing it that way, I have attained this position I’m in now and I have had good projects.
# The important things from here on out
From Qualifications of Men to Pieta and A Hundred Year’s Inheritance, you are riding the wave very well. Do you think it’s ‘good luck’ that there’s so much attention around you? Or do you think it’s the ‘results of your effort’ up until now?
I think it’s both.
Don’t you ever think it’s now that everyone has learned about you?
It’s not the ‘finally now’, but being forgotten from the beginning is sad. It’s important from here on out. (Laughs)
Looking at your previous projects from the ‘success’ point of view, they seem to be disappointing. Common people think that a movie has to be a box-office hit for an actor to be recognized and for actors to continue promoting.
I don’t know the standards for ‘success’, but to become an actor that has success is very good. However, even I didn’t know that, and a producer I’m close with talked about that. There’s a Breakeven Point (BP). He said it was fortunate that all of my projects crossed that BP. From the position of a producer, when he looks at me, I’m a very fortunate actor. (Laughs) When looking at it, their returns are more than the money they invested. I started to think that actors had the responsibility until the project broke the BP. Someone is spending money because of me.
The general public has difficulty knowing what the BP is.
Even a little while ago, Director Mo said the same thing when we were working out together. When a director who surpassed ten million viewers, he has to repeat the same feat, which isn’t easy to do.
It’s not that it’s not easy, but it’s almost impossible. (Laughs)
What exactly does the number ten million itself represent? That’s just how our country is. My previous movie had over five million, but this one had three million, so they say it’s a failure. When looking at the size of the movie, the previous movie was shot for 10 billion won (roughly 10 million USD) and this project was shot for 3 billion won (roughly 3 million USD), so what’s the bigger difference that matters?
What’s the biggest reason why an actor needs a box-office success?
While it is good to have one, I don’t know the reason. It just becomes easier to do the next movie. However, that’s not how I want things to turn out. When a movie is created in the present, it is created because while the actors, staff and all of the viewers are on standby, waiting for the movie to be released, they think it will be a box office hit. However, there are just a few lucky movies that hit the jackpot. Director Kim Ki Duk doesn’t have any box office hits. Saying that, there’s no reason why Director Kim Ki Duk’s value would be devalued, as he’s not that type of director.
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview