Sul Kyung-gu, a Korean film star with outstanding talent, will be back where he started as he prepares to land a major role in a Daehangno drama for the first time in nine years.
Under the directorship of his college professor Choi Hyung-in, Sul, who is well known through his high-profile films such as "Peppermint Candy" (2000) and "Oasis" (2002), will play Andrew Makepeace in A.R. Gurney`s two-person drama "Love Letters," which will be staged at Hanyang Repertory Theater in Daehangno from tomorrow through the end of the year.
"What attracts me to drama is that it is always performed live in front of the audience," Sul told reporters Tuesday. "I feel a bit awkward acting on the stage, but still, acting is acting. Not much will be different."
<**1>Starting his professional acting career as a theater actor in 1993, Sul made his big-screen debut with a small movie role in the 1996 movie "A Petal." He jumpstarted his career with "Peppermint Candy" four years later, which brought him a few best actor awards including that of the prestigious annual Blue Dragon Film Awards. Recently, he transformed into a cop in "Public Enemy 2." In all his roles, Sul is praised for his exceptionally chameleon-like ability to completely morph his image and personality.
A Korean actor who is widely considered to be the closest to the "world class" in terms of acting skill, Sul confesses dramatic acting is never easy. "I really wanted to play in the drama much later, probably after I have become 50, because the role seems to take much more of life experiences to play well," said the 37-year-old actor.
The last time Sul performed onstage was in the original cast of the musical "Subway Line 1" in 1999, but, he has never performed in a genuine drama since "The Snake Groom and His Wife" in 1996. What motivated him to come back on the stage was advice from his life-long mentor Choi, the director and the professor of Hanyang University`s Department of Theater and Cinema.
"Sul is not a film star to me at all," Choi said. "Upon seeing his latest film, I felt that it was time for him to be fueled anew by a new theatrical experience. The stage should serve as a training center for all kinds of actors."
A superstar like him might feel embarrassed to hear that in front of the press, but Sul puts his full trust in Choi. "It was Choi`s lecture back in college years that motivated me the first and strongest to be a professional actor. When she suggested me I take on the role, I could only think that she must have something important to give me through the role." Sul said.
Written by Albert Ramsdell Gurney, one of the most prolific American playwrights, "Love Letters" is a story of a man and a woman told through letters to each other. It traces the lifelong correspondence of the staid, dutiful lawyer Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and the lively, unstable artist Melissa Gardner.
Andrew and Melissa are childhood friends whose lifelong correspondence begins with birthday party thank-you notes. Romantically attached, they continue to exchange letters throughout their lives, making it eloquently clear how much they mean to each other over the years.
"The two characters represent as many selves that exist in everyone, which contrast with each other," said Choi, who will also play in the drama as one of five different Melissas. "It is a play that was born to be performed in autumn: sad but beautiful."
Gurney is one of the most prolific and produced playwrights in America. His work focuses primarily on the issues and realities of middle-class life and has been produced on international theater stages for more than 30 years. His breakthrough success came in 1982 with "The Dining Room." Other award-winning plays include "The Perfect Party," "Another Antigone" and "A Cheever Evening."
"Theater actors depend much on the audience`s reaction for energies they pour onstage," Sul continued. "I hope there will be many people to come to see the play."
Besides Sul, four other actors - Lee Ho-jae, Choi Yong-min, Lee Dae-young and Kim Kyung-sik - will play Andrew according to the schedule that is yet to be set. Tickets are 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 764-6460.
By Lee Yong-sung