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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exclusive: [Brave Talk] Star Lee Min-ho VS Actor Lee Min-ho

 If Lee Min-ho had not appeared on KBS2 drama series 'Boys over Flowers' (2009) as Gu Jun-pyo, what would he have been doing?

A star and an actor are inextricably linked but sometimes they are far apart. People sometimes see a star a slightly different way from they see an actor. Those who are lucky enough to be called both a star and an actor should properly deal with the different ways of viewing them, which is sometimes tiring.

Lee Min-ho is also one of those who are lucky but tired. It is very interesting to ask, "What if he had not been the character Gu Jun-pyo, which helped Lee Min-ho become a top star and served as a reference to many new actors as the best character for a romantic comedy genre?" Lee Min-ho confessed that he had already asked himself the question, “What if I had not played Gu Jun-pyo?”

‘Brave Talk’ now begins to talk about how the star Lee Min-ho and the actor Lee Min-ho coexist.

# Star Lee Min-ho=Face of a prince

Lee Min-ho is a star. He is an undisputable top star. ‘Boys over Flowers’ was not a widely-touted drama show. It recorded the viewership rating of over 30%, enjoying a syndrome-like popularity. It is true that the drama show guaranteed success to some extent but it actually achieved better results than expected. At the core of the achievement was Lee Min-ho, who played Gu Jun-pyo in the drama.

Gu Jun-pyo was a man that women have no choice but to fall in love with. He was a man from a super-rich family who has everything with a handsome face. He had loneliness inside even though he acts like a picky person. He had a pure love for only one woman. The character was the essence of the fantasy of all women. In fact, all the elements were taken from the original cartoon, which had already been a Bible for teenaged girls for years before the airing of the drama.

The high popularity of the original work should have served as a disadvantage. There was a concern about several new actors including Lee Min-ho when the drama was about to premiere. However, Lee Min-ho, who appeared like a comet, succeeded to bring back to real life Gu Jun-pyo who only lived in the imagination of many girls.

His handsome but unusual face played a big part. His face looked masculine but sensitive, and strong but tender at the same time. It had a subtle charm that cannot be simply defined as a handsome man. His face finally met the character Gu Jun-pyo and helped Lee Min-ho fulfill his potential to the fullest.

Gu Jun-pyo’s fierceness repeated in Lee Min-ho’s filmography. Yun-seong from ‘City Hunter’ or General Choi Yeong from ‘Faith’ face a crisis and disappear at the ending and then show up as a savior of a main female character like prince on a white horse. In other words, his characters leave the impression similar to Gu Jun-pyo.

However, I am not saying that the repetition was boring. Instead, his solid star quality was proven in that he continued to succeed to deliver the fantasy for viewers even with such repetition.

There are other factors in his consistent popularity of five years. The diligent career he built step by step to be on top, the attitude to try to be humble and not to be arrogant, and his reputation as a loyal person may be the most important factors that allow him to stay as an extremely lovable star who impresses people by just being with them and being watched by them.

# Actor Lee Min-ho = 7 years of experience and then…

Lee Min-ho is an actor. He could appear on ‘Boys over Flowers’ which made him a big star since he decided to choose the career path of an actor. It was obvious that many actors aimed for the character Gu Jun-pyo, which guaranteed success to some extent, but producer Jeon Ki-sang picked Lee Min-ho with low awareness for Gu Jun-pyo, not an idol star. It was possible because the producer trusted Lee Min-ho as an actor.

It was in 2009 when he started to be in the spotlight, but he debuted three years before in 2006. It was in 2002 when he started to build his acting career by playing a small role.

Over seven years of experience became a growth engine for him. Lee Min-ho said, “I still think that it was fortunate that I came to play Gu Jun-pyo after experiencing ups and downs before. If I had met Gu Jun-pyo without any experience, I would not have passed the audition, of course. And I would not have been able to play Gu Jun-pyo properly. My experience helped me become Gu Jun-pyo.”

Wait a second. Let’s think about Lee Min-ho on TV. He is an actor who does not exaggerate when he plays his character, which is a feature of a drama genre (The trend has been weaker these days, though). When it comes to a drama, each scene has to convey the intention of a character unlike in a movie. That is why actors act in an exaggerated way. However, Lee Min-ho’s acting is calm and stable like in a movie. He said that he tries to naturally assimilate himself to his character.
What about his filmography? Since ‘Boys over Flowers’, he has appeared on a drama every year such as ‘Personal Taste’, ‘City Hunter’, and ‘Faith’. He is not a prolific actor, but he appeared on different genres. He has tried to seek change in many different genres such as romance, action, historical drama, and school drama. 

Now, he is filming SBS drama series ‘Those Who Want the Crown, Withstand the Weight of it - The Heirs’ written by the star writer Kim Eun-suk. He is considering appearing on director Yu Ha’s movie ‘Gangnam Blues’.

He plays a high school student again like in ‘Boys over Flower’ on ‘The Heirs’, but the writer Kim Eun-suk is expected to maximize his character. The film noir ‘Gangnam Blues’ is highly likely to be Lee Min-ho’s turning point as an actor. 

Lee Min-ho with a solid star quality and a great potential as an actor does not seem to be in a hurry to move his center of gravity. He may have looked like a rookie that appeared out of nowhere like a comet to the public, but he was relaxed enough to be aloof about how others see him since he became a star based on a firm and solid foundation.

Lee Min-ho, who pursues natural acting, says that there is still a long way to go. He thinks that it is more desirable to develop himself naturally than to make an intentional choice to remove his star image in haste.

Lee Min-ho will expand his abilities little by little. Anyone would be curious about his world to be expanded.

Written by Bae Seon-yeong (TenAsia)
Photograph from KBS, SBS, Starhaus Entertainment
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