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(Yonhap Interview) Actor Choi Min-sik: I'm motivated solely by self-interest

All Headlines 19:34 October 26, 2017

By Shim Sun-ah and Cho Jae-young

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonahp) -- Choi Min-sik is arguably one of the most influential actors in Korea. In "Heart Blackened," a mystery thriller set to open on Nov. 2, he plays Im Tae-san, a business tycoon who will do anything to clear his only daughter of charges of killing her would-be stepmother, Im's beautiful pop diva fiance.

It is a character full of hypocrisy and twisted desire, a snob whose motto is "money is the truth." But if you go one step closer, you will find a middle-aged man who loves his daughter and has a pure love for a woman. So because of his varied appearance, his heart is hard to guess till the last minute.

Choi said he was drawn to the movie's plot -- that a perfect man ironically comes to realize the value of things around him only after losing them all.

This photo provided by CJ Entertainment shows actor Choi Min-sik (Yonhap)

"The man who has known nothing but money belatedly comes to realize that money is nothing, and I wanted to express such a feeling," the gray-haired actor said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency at a Seoul cafe on Thursday.

In the new film, he showed good chemistry with Lee Honey, the lead actress who is more than 20 years his junior.

"At first, I had some prejudice about Lee. I was not sure if my melodramatic acting with her would be fine or not. But it turned out that she is an actress with a deep understanding of the world, people and human relationships beyond her years. I was surprised to see her expressing very subtle feelings between men and women."

This photo provided by CJ Entertainment shows actor Choi Min-sik (Yonhap)

"Heart Blackened" is Choi's first collaboration with director Jung Ji-woo after "Happy End" 18 years ago. The veteran actor was also reunited with Im Seung-yong, chief executive officer of Yong Films, for the new movie. Im produced Choi's best known film "Old Boy" by director Park Chan-wook.

"When I was reunited with my former coworkers after a long time, I felt sad and a little bit bitter," he said. "Eighteen years is never a short time, and I think the fact that we can meet and work together again is the attraction of movies."

This photo provided by CJ Entertainment shows actor Choi Min-sik (Yonhap)

Questioned about what drives him to stick to acting for such a long time, Choi pointed out his sympathy for all types of characters that he acted.

"I feel sympathy for every character that I have played, even if they are bad people," he said, "And I think that sort of mindset pushed me to stay in the job."

Although he did many films, box office performance has always been a big burden to him. His 2013 historical drama "Roaring Currents" became the most-viewed Korean film ever by selling 17.6 million tickets, but his recent works such as "The Tiger" and "The Mayor" were box office failures.

"The taste of the audience is variable, and the box office is like a sort of floating cloud. Aiming for box office success is like pursuing the illusion. So I solely pursue my own interest. I mean I do movies that can satisfy and attract myself." He then asked his own question, "What would be the meaning of doing this if I'm not crazy about my own works?"


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