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(Yonhap Interview) 'Reply 1988' actor in no rush to move on

All News 11:39 July 22, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah, Cho Min-jung

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- One thing actors often want to avoid is being associated with a single character.

But Ryu Jun-yeol, the 29-year-old actor whose role as the friend-zoned male protagonist in "Reply 1988" catapulted him to stardom last winter, said he's in no rush to shed that image.

"'Reply 1988' is really precious to me," he told Yonhap News Agency in an interview Thursday. "I don't think I'll have any regrets even if I look back in old age and find that that's become my major work."

Ryu recently played the cool-headed CEO of a game software company on the MBC TV drama "Lucky Romance." After being traumatized by a painful breakup, CEO Jae Soo-ho meets the superstition-obsessed programmer Shim Bo-nee (Hwang Jung-eum), who for superstitious reasons goes all out to win his heart.

"I was very much loved for my character in my previous work, so I didn't want to erase or destroy that character," the actor said.

The similarities between Jae and Ryu's character in "Reply 1988" are there, with both being awkward at expressing their feelings. In the tvN series, Ryu played Jeong-hwan, a highschooler in the 80s who loses his long-time crush to a rival.

"I thought the two characters might overlap, but I'm grateful that our viewers grasped Soo-ho's emotions so well and I'm happy about it," said Ryu. "There's a clear difference between (the two characters) in that Soo-ho is suffering from trauma. I think our viewers liked the way Soo-ho overcame that trauma and changed and matured."

Ryu said he wore long sleeves even in the sweltering heat because he understood Soo-ho as someone who would want to feel protected in his clothes.

"But it really was very hot," he said with a laugh.

After filming the last episode of "Lucky Romance," which aired on July 14, Ryu went to the southern port city of Busan to film the movie "Taxi Driver."

He returned to Seoul a day before the interview but showed no sign of fatigue in his eloquent speech.

"Health is all I've got," the actor boasted jokingly.

In his 20s, Ryu tried his hand at various part-time jobs, from pizza delivery and waiting to manual labor and after-school tutoring.

"It was my way of keeping my basic dignity as a human being," he said. "I worked hard because I thought I should at least be able to build a life in which I can buy a cup of coffee for myself when I want to. I was always around people as I worked and I think that has helped my acting."


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