Kim Tae-hee attempts new challenges with IRIS
I know, I’m not covering IRIS as much as some people probably feel I should, given that it’s ruling its Wednesday-Thursday timeslot and wowing viewers with its action-packed, star-studded storytelling. But what can I say? IRIS is a lot of fun but it leaves me unmoved, so for that reason it gets pushed back to the end (or maybe the middle) of my always-growing to-view pile of dramas.
I did, however, enjoy reading this interview with its star actress Kim Tae-hee, because I always think she’s a curious case for being such an A-list star. She’s known for being highly intelligent and is loved for her cute, girl-next-door appeal, even though it’s also widely acknowledged that her greatest drawback as an actor is her acting. Pretty people getting by on their looks generally annoys me because I always think of how better the drama/movie could have been with a better actor. But in Kim Tae-hee’s case, I can’t even hate her because she’s so baldly frank about her limits, and it’s clear that it bothers her as much as it bothers the rest of us. You’ve kinda gotta respect that.
(Note that the interview came out on Monday, before the two latest episodes of IRIS aired.)
Upgrading through Choi Seung-hee in KBS’s IRIS
Kim Tae-hee (29) was honest and simple.
Despite being modest, she didn’t hesitate to talk from the heart and knew where she stood clearly, without adding or subtracting from that. Although she talked around some things and evaded others, she agreed to the interview in a sincere, straightforward way.
I met with her at the shooting location of KBS’s IRIS, which was set up at a Catholic cemetery in Paju, Kyeonggi. She had a shining presence, enough that the photographer became engrossed in shooting her without being aware that her clothing was too dark.
Kim Tae-hee is receiving attention for her role as the NSS’s top profiler Choi Seung-hee in IRIS. In particular, her ardent love affair with fellow agent Kim Hyun-joon (Lee Byung-heon) is drawing interest, and her acting received praise in the episode that aired on November 5 where she learned of Hyun-joon’s death and was wracked with sobs.
She smiled, “I don’t know if I’m up for a heartbreaking love, but I really want to experience a love like we showed in the Japan shoots. I was really envious of Seung-hee then.”
Ratings have passed 30%.
“I’m happy. When I watch the broadcast, I can definitely feel the difference in scale and camera movement from other dramas. The drama seems like a grand movie. It’s a large-scale spy action series, but in the early part I don’t have many action scenes so I couldn’t really feel the scope. I thought more that I shouldn’t harm the rest of the project. [Laughs]”
You drew a lot of attention for your melodramatic storyline with Lee Byung-heon. In particular, your bed scene.
“I’m relieved that the reaction was good. Lee Byung-heon sunbae proposed a lot of ideas for the melodrama storyline, whether it’s passing the candy through a kiss, or the scene when Seung-hee runs her feet along Hyun-joon’s leg under the desk in the NSS office. It was my idea to have Seung-hee’s leg locked with Hyun-joon’s handcuffs. [Laughs] Because they’re both spies, they’d date a little differently. We shot the bed scene comfortably. We call it a ‘bed scene’ but I was wearing a tank top and we were just kissing in the bed, so there wasn’t too much of a burden. Also, the scene where they’re on the terrace wrapped in a blanket came out looking beautiful, but in actuality it was so cold that we were both wearing tons of clothing underneath the blanket. [Laughs] The sudden kiss at the NSS, after which I slapped Hyun-joon’s face, was a lot harder to act emotionally than the bed scene.”
Seung-hee is an elite agent, but it seems her focus is in the melodrama parts.
“I had the desire to go for some melodrama. The other agents look the part of spies, but my character’s image keeps changing, so I couldn’t just come out as a cool-headed agent. I thought of my life as a melodrama. [Laughs] People see me with a firm, solid image, but actually I’m clumsy and have a lot of blind spots. If I want to act that, I have to prepare to reveal everything and not just show the sharp agent side.”
How was it acting in the action scenes?
“I’ve been disappointed in what has aired so far. At first, I really wanted to show a strong side, but I got hurt while practicing, and I think that while fighting with Sun-hwa (Kim So-yeon), it didn’t come off like a life-and-death fight. But I’m pleased with the action scene that comes out in Episode 10. It’s a scene where I confront a terrorist, and my opponent is a bulky man so I hit him without worrying. He teased me afterward saying that my blows weren’t strong, but I felt so sorry that I bought him a nice dinner. My entire body is bruised from the action shoots, but afterward it feels good. Am I twisted? [Laughs] And shooting guns is even harder. I’m scared by the sound of a balloon popping, so practicing with a gun is difficult because of the noise. Looking cool as I do it is also strangely difficult. [Laughs] Lee Byung-heon sunbae’s presence is truly perfect.”
What is Seung-hee’s mental state like now?
“She believes that Hyun-joon is dead, but is unable to forget him. The pain has made her mature, but she can’t entirely escape from Hyun-joon. She merely tries to return to everyday life. She knows that Sa-woo (Jung Jun-ho) has feelings for her, but she’s not in the frame of mind to open her heart to another person. But we don’t know what will happen between the three in the future.”
Seung-hee is currently in a lot of pain because of her love, but initially she was a very confident character. What’s Kim Tae-hee like?
“I don’t have a lot of confidence. It may seem like I have everything and very few troubles, but that’s absurd. I have complexes too, and a lot of worries. After I started acting, there have been a lot of times when the future has seemed vast and bleak. I didn’t feel certainty in this road, so it was frustrating and I couldn’t see my path. Even now, I feel like there’s something I haven’t realized and acting is as difficult as ever, and I’m troubled over that. I’ll have to keep challenging myself and trying hard. I’m the type who isn’t that disturbed by ridiculous rumors, because that’s not the truth. But what hurts me the most is negative criticism about my acting, because that’s something I also acknowledge. However, through IRIS I want to cast off the hazy and frustrating situations I’ve felt in the past, and I really hope that this drama will be the turning point in my acting career.”
You’re a top star now — aren’t you being too deprecating?
“Star? I don’t know. I don’t think a person can receive recognition just through image or looks. Faults are more apparent than strengths, and people’s negative thoughts cause more worry. As an actor, I sometimes think that physical appearance or large expressions aren’t such a good thing. Even small expressions can be read into and criticized for exaggeration, and I have a complex about pouting my lips or not closing my mouth all the way. I’ve had it fixed, but it still bothers me. Doctors say I can’t do anything more about it. [Laughs] In IRIS, both Hyun-joon and Sa-woo fall for Seung-hee at first glance, so I worried about not looking pretty enough. My CFs until now have shown me in a very pretty light, so I worried that the drama would fall short of that.”
What do you want to do from here on out?
“I debuted as a CF model when I was 21, and I started acting in dramas at 23. It’s amazing how quickly time has flown. I wanted to live a busy life, but it feels like it has all passed by without accomplishing anything. I want to nurture an even greater passion for acting from now on, and I’d like to discover my inner nature that’s been dormant so far. I have felt a lot of discouragement thinking that because I started acting in the whirl of the moment, I didn’t have the right temperament for it. But now, I want to only look ahead.”
Via Yonhap News
- Small dramas stay afloat amongst blockbusters
- IRIS: Episode 2
- Iris bed scene too hot for broadcast television
- IRIS: Episode 1
- Iris’s strong start endangers Heading’s ending
- Iris and Chuno run into production disputes
- And now for Iris’s Le Byung-heon
- A look at Iris’s supporting cast
- Iris’s profiler Kim Tae-hee