Before getting terrified by strangers in Strangers from Hell, Im Siwan participated in an interview with Cosmopolitan Korea Magazine discussing his life before and after the military. There was even a little military chat thrown in as well.
Im Siwan mentioned that right before he went to the military, he thought he had this acting thing figured out. He conducted and experiment were he was not longer putting a great amount of effort into it and was having fun. But the experiment ended when he went to the military, so he says he will need to see if he can make his acting as effortless once again. After watching Strangers from Hell, I think he is doing a pretty good job of hopping back on the saddle.
IM SI WAN COSMOPOLITAN INTERVIEW 2019: THE TIME COMPLETED
Actor Im Si-wan started his acting career by accepting his opacity and incompleteness, his not being clear and perfect. He is now filling his time gap in his own way.
You opened your Instagram account as soon as you were discharged.
When I was in the military, fans sent me snacks, presents, and letters to share with my comrades. Those are big mood lifters when you are in the military. It came to my mind that maybe I took all of this for granted. I thought I should live my life more giving. That is the reason I started my Instagram right away. It shows my determination to communicate with my fans more.
I heard you donated all your salary and volunteered.
As soon as I went to the military, I thought my salary is not mine. I thought it was something I should give back to society. I was wondering about what to do with my salary and decided to donate it to Hyochon primary school, which has a sistership with my military base. It was recommended to me to teach math to the kids. I liked to teach the kids, but not entirely because I would think “Do they have to study this hard in such a young age?” I asked them and they actually told me they have to study hard. It was strange to me that they already know why they have to study hard.
You often said “I want to act for a long time”
When I was acting, I was thankful because it is so rewarding, but I thought I can’t do it for too long because the process is very hard. I always worried about it, and I finally learned that not working too hard can be the answer to enjoying acting. The first movie I applied my new idea to was One-line and the next trial was The Merciless. The popularity of The Merciless confirmed my idea. But I had to pause acting as soon as I got that revelation due to my military service. Now I wonder if I can act like that again, but I will give it a try anyway.
The Merciless is still loved among movie enthusiasts even two years after the premiere.
Before filming, I thought it would be a difficult movie to be in. However, it went smoothly. It was a strange experience for me, and I was even invited to the Cannes Film Festival. It was a rare opportunity. I found the possibility of acting in a variety of ways.
You have a personal relationship with actor Sol Kyung-gu.
We are a good match. Also, we share a kinship after being in the movie together. He was kind to me while filming, and I also wanted to be more comfortable with him even though I admire him. We both felt comfortable with each other.
All the actors who work with you complement you a lot. Do you think your good-boy image constrains you?
That is why I always say, “I am not that of a good person”. Haha. As an actor, it is detrimental to have a fixed image. So, I tried hard not to constrain myself.
Maybe that is why you look more manly. When I went to the military, I decided to gain some muscle. I think it is the last time in my life. No more promises. Haha. It is so difficult to get muscular, so I don’t even think about maintaining it. Of course, if it is required for my role, I will try it… sigh… some people work out as a hobby, right? One thing I never understand is “work out addiction”. It will never happen to me. I enjoy sports but working out is too hard.
I thought you were a fun person when I saw you in Life Bar before you joined the military.
Right. I debuted because I like to sing. I often go to the noraebang alone and sing until the bonus time ends. My all-time favorite song is Again by Han All and, right now, I like Swallow by Lady Gaga from the movie A Star is Born. I sing it in the male key. I became a big fan of Lady Gaga after the movie. I even want to apologize to her because I knew her only as a pop star!
It seems you still miss your time as a musician. Do you still talk to ZE:A members?
I don’t see them too often, but we believe we are connected. Even though we don’t see each other often, when we do see each other, we feel like we just saw each other yesterday. I think our relationships continue with this kind of belief in each other.
It seems like you like to hang out with hyung’s more.
I think, even if I make a mistake, hyung’s will understand it. But it is kind of stressful to think I shouldn’t make any mistakes in front of dongsang’s because I can be a bad example to them.
You have chemistry with other guys a lot in dramas and movies (not with women).
I want to have a melodramatic or romantic role, but I don’t know why I don’t get those roles
Your next project is Strangers from Hell which is based on a webtoon, right?
A junior solider in the military recommended it to me. He told me that he likes a webtoon called Strangers from Hell, and I am the perfect candidate for the main role. When I read it, I thought it was a fun webtoon as a reader, but I never imagined I would take on a role in the drama.
Now, you are an actor who chooses your next acting roles, they are not chosen for you. I guess that means you have a different criterion to proposed projects?
I want to do all the works proposed to me. Haha. Now, I have a different form of homework to do. I have to have my own criteria to know what I prefer. Right now, I have an abstract and vague idea. The script should be an easy read, and I should easily visualize myself in the script. However, I think that is not enough. I need to have more experience.
Actors often compare their roles as their clothes. You should be objective to get to know what clothes fits you the best. Yep, but it is difficult to see myself objectively, regardless of how much I try. Because my eyes are on my face. Even if I try to spend time looking in the mirror, other people have seen me longer. So, I try to keep distance from myself, and I try to observe it.
What did you learn in the military while talking to different people you don’t usually talk to in the entertainment field?
The actor hopefuls liked to talk to me often. One day, I was at night duty with one of them and he told me “You are like a self-made neighborhood hyung”. It struck me. I realized that that is the direction I should be in. It was actually a complicated combination of words, but that was what I wanted to hear. It really gave me a refreshing jolt.
You are a very rational person, aren’t you?
It is my specialty to act rationally, but it is my weakness acting emotionally. So, I usually focus on the signal from my heart. I try to be free from the words. Previously, I prepared everything in advance that I would say at an interview. Interviewers actually liked that because they didn’t have much to edit. Haha. I am not like that anymore. I started to think that words (or language) are not a perfect medium for communications. Sometimes I think body language and facial expressions are more accurate than spoken language.
What is the best compliment to you?
Some seonbaes ask me detailed questions about my acting. Not just “good job” or “that is cool” but when they ask me something like “what where you thinking when you acted in this scene” then I think they really acknowledged my acting. Personally, I like drinking together much more than talking. I feel happy when a seonbae says sure when I ask him/her for a drink. It means a lot to me when they agreed to have a drink with me privately. It means they are willing to spare their private time with me.
It seems you don’t trust simple and superficial compliments.
It is easy to say “you look good” or “you are handsome”. It can be truthful, but people usually say it when they have nothing to say. So, if the other person says those things, I usually think I should try harder to start a conversation naturally.
What was the worst thing you did?
Well, I drink a lot. My tolerance is two bottles of soju, but I drink often. It was very difficult for me when I could not drink in the military.
What kind of person can you not tolerate?
That was clear in my 20’s, but I’m not so sure anymore. I think I set a high bar to others even though I am not perfect. Now, I just accept that person as is when they make mistakes.
What kind of adjective do you want to have before your name Im Si-wan?
A humane person. At an award ceremony, I always say I will be this kind of person, not that I will be this kind of actor or singer. I don’t want to confine myself with an adjective. I still want to know who I am.
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