ENTERTAINMENT

Can Max’s acting break TVXQ losing streak?

By Jean Oh
  • Published : Jan 18, 2011 - 17:54
  • Updated : Jan 18, 2011 - 17:54
When TVXQ member Max makes his major acting debut in SBS’ new series, “Paradise Ranch,” on Jan. 24, the public will most likely wonder whether or not he will be able to break the losing streak of fellow TVXQ member U-Know’s and member-gone-independent Park Yoo-chun’s respective television series debuts.

U-Know made his small screen debut in MBC’s “No Limit” in 2009, a series that brought in abysmal ratings.

Then, approximately one year later, Park Yoo-chun, currently part of JYJ (the boy band formed by three TVXQ idols-gone-independent) starred in KBS’ “Seonggyungwan Scandal.”

While Park cemented his reputation as a bona-fide thespian, the series failed to nab high ratings.

Now it is Max’s turn to take on his debut lead role.

Having racked up minor acting experience primarily through a boy band-pushing-TV drama film, he is now jumping right into the thick of things by tackling the role of a divorced chaebol heir who finds himself living with his ex-wife (played by fellow S.M. Entertainment artist Lee Yeon-hee) on a ranch on Jeju Island. 
The cast of SBS’ new Monday and Tuesday night series “Paradise Ranch” (from left) — actress Yoo Hana, TVXQ’s Max, S.M.’s Lee Yeon-hee and actor Joo Sang-wook — attend the drama’s press conference on Tuesday in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Like U-Know’s “No Limit,” “Paradise Ranch” is a joint collaboration between S.M. Entertainment and a production company. This time around, Samhwa Networks -- the production company behind the hit KBS series, "Bread, Love and Dreams" -- has joined hands with S.M.

Furthermore, like “No Limit,” where S.M. artists U-Know and Ara played the leads, Max and Lee Yeon-hee will be fronting the upcoming drama.

Filming for “Paradise Ranch” ran from December 2009 to May 2010 for approximately six months.

According to “Paradise Ranch” director Kim Chul-kyu, Kim and team had not originally planned to film the entire series in advance.

At the drama’s press conference on Tuesday, Max referenced the months spent filming: “For about a half a year we filmed the series on Jeju Island. Because it was my first time acting, I learned a lot.”

Director Kim -- who created a stir when he jumped on board SBS’ hit series, “Dae Mul,” after it started airing --admitted that he was initially “worried about whether or not Max would be able to pull off the lead role.”

“Luckily, Max has a knack for acting,” said Kim. “He became natural at it very quickly.”

Max, who showed up to the press event decked out in black, said: “This was my first time acting, so I did feel anxious about it.”

“What I am really relieved about is that when the series starts airing next Monday and Tuesday, I will be in Japan,” he confessed.

“I feel like I did my best, though my acting skills may be somewhat lacking, and so I have no regrets.”

In regards to upcoming kiss scenes in the series, Max revealed: “Acting in itself makes me nervous, so when there was a kiss scene, I would get even more nervous, and wouldn’t be able to eat properly and would continually use mouthwash that day.”

“I enjoyed watching Max get nervous,” co-star Lee quipped, revealing that their upcoming kiss scene is “cute.”

During the press conference, reporters were asked to refrain from throwing out questions about JYJ, thereby preventing discussion of the scandal-driven buzz surrounding the five idols.

What started off as a lawsuit filed against S.M. Entertainment by Park Yoo-chun, Kim Jae-joong and Kim Jun-su over their 13-year contract in July 2009 led to the trio kicking off their debut as a three-member group called JYJ late last year.

After JYJ released their first album, titled “The Beginning,” S.M. Entertainment’s three-less TVXQ -- currently helmed by U-Know and Max -- dropped their controversially-titled album, “Keep Your Head Down,” on the masses on Jan. 5.

The album, which jumped to the top of the charts, fueled anticipation of a potential battle of the bands between JYJ and TVXQ, with rumors spreading that the title of the S.M. duo’s new release was an indirect and aggressive warning to JYJ, telling the trio to keep their heads down.

In the midst of all this, all five idols have been forging ahead, with Kim Jun-su slated to star in a musical starting February and U-Know in the upcoming television drama, “Poseidon,” with Park Yoo-chun coming off his role in "Seonggyungwan Scandal," and Kim Jae-joong having put in an award-winning performance in a Japanese drama.

“Paradise Ranch” starts airing Jan. 24 on Mondays and Tuesdays on SBS at 8:50 p.m.

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)