Hwang Jeong-min -- Acting from the Heart

    October 02, 2005 18:40

    Hwang Jeong-min's acting style can bring tears to the eyes of viewers -- if acting is the right word for what looks more like possession. "The camera doesn't lie. You can never fool the viewer. You have to act with your heart, not your head," he says.

    In the film "You are My Sunshine," which debuted late last month, Hwang's character, Seok-jung is in love with Eun-ha (played by Jeon Do-yeon), a waitress who works in a teahouse. That does not change even when he finds out she has AIDS.

    "I was moved by the tale of the genuine love between two people," Hwang explains. "I agreed with the director's idea of showing it as pure love, like an uncut gem, without sloppily adding to it or embellishing it." To start at the end, it was a smashing success. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet, Hwang inhabits the part of the aging bachelor, naivety and all, and it is Hwang's impassioned performance that takes a film that could have been a banal tear-jerker to box-office success.

    In a scene that had audiences rolling in the aisles, Hwang dances in his underwear in the bathroom: it was improvised the day before shooting. A tearful prison interview scene that has attracted much comment was also a last-minute addition. For the entire 16 hours it took to shoot the scene, Hwang had to keep conjuring tears from the heart.

    "Do-yeon gave me great strength: when I stood in front of her, I naturally became Seok-jung" It is because of this commitment to emotional truth that Hwang can confidently tell interviewers that he is 100 percent satisfied with his work. During a crisis on set, or when he is either feeling too satisfied or caught up in mannerisms, he takes out notes he made when he first read the screenplay. "I look at the screenplay again and again. That's where all the answers are," he says.

    Wrapping up the interview, the Chosun Ilbo asked, "How would Seok-jung and Eun-ha have lived if they met under different circumstances? Wouldn't their love have been doomed in the end anyway?" Hwang the actor instantly disappeared and Seok-jun the aging provincial bachelor resurfaced. "They would have been all right, because they were people who knew the power of love."

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