|“The Heirs” actor Lee Min-ho attends the drama’s press conference in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, Monday. |
“I hope this drama reels in viewer ratings past the 40 percent mark,” said Lee, 26, at the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Monday. “I really want those top ratings.”
Lee has yet to surpass the overwhelming success of his breakout role in the hit KBS rom-com four years ago.
Both his last TV series, “The Great Doctor,” and 2010’s “Personal Taste” brought in lukewarm viewer shares, and while “City Hunter,” in which Lee played a justice-seeking rogue operative, was a relative success, it failed to rack up ratings on par with “Boys Over Flowers.”
Now, Lee could quite possibly have another smash hit on his hands with “The Heirs.”
This fall, Lee returns as a teenage chaebol heir destined to fall for the down-on-luck heroine, who will be played by rom-com veteran Park Shin-hye.
Since his new character’s profile mirrors the very role that catapulted him to massive stardom (what K-drama fan doesn’t remember his arrogantly winsome Goo Joon-pyo?), comparisons to “Boys Over Flowers” seem inevitable.
On Monday, Lee fielded a question about his decision to come full circle to the type of role that put him on the map.
“Four years have passed since I starred in ‘Boys Over Flowers,’ and I am playing a high school chaebol heir again because,” Lee paused, before rephrasing his answer. “At some point during those four years, I realized that I rarely felt wildly happy. I also realized that there wasn’t much to be sad about either. My life felt void of ups or downs.”
“So, before I grew past my 20s, I wanted to play a more upbeat character, one that would allow me to return to that feeling of simple, uncomplicated innocence that I had when I was younger,” Lee concluded.
It is not hard to see why Lee zeroed in on the role of Kim Tan, considering “A Gentleman’s Dignity” and “Secret Garden” scriptwriter Kim Eun-sook is behind-the-scenes, working her magic on Lee’s new hero, a lead that could resonate with viewers the way her heroes have in the past.
Scriptwriter Kim seems to have her work cut out for her, with “Boys Over Flowers” references threatening to overshadow “The Heirs.”
“If the plan was to remake ‘Boys Over Flowers,’ then, quite obviously Lee Min-ho would not have been cast as the lead,” Kim said. “It was because I was confident that my work would be different and, if I dare say so, better even, that Lee Min-ho was brought on board.”
Lee also voiced faith in his upcoming work, stating, “I feel like playing this role now at this age will represent a real departure from how I approached my character four years ago.”
During the press event, Lee looked at ease with co-star Park Shin-hye, holding hands and linking arms with the “Heartstrings” actress while posing for photos.
“I first met Lee Min-ho while shooting a cosmetics commercial together in 2009,” said Park, 23. “He is a real gentleman, very well-mannered but still a kid in many ways.”
“I like to tease Shin-hye,” Lee admitted to being a bit of a prankster. “Especially when our shooting schedule gets tough, that’s when I let the good times roll.”
“I guess that comfortable vibe we have going just translates directly to the small screen,” he added.
While the highlight reel that ran at the press event gave very little away on what sort of onscreen chemistry viewers can expect from Lee and Park, it did hint at a romance centered on a gaggle of rich kids duking it out in a private school-setting with one not-so-entitled girl caught in the middle.
K-pop idols Krystal of f(x), Kang Min-hyuk of CNBLUE and Park Hyung-sik of ZE:A will be starring in the upcoming series and “A Gentleman’s Dignity” model-and-actor Kim Woo-bin will be playing the lead’s rival for the heroine’s affections.
“The Heirs” starts airing Oct. 9, Wednesday and Thursday nights on SBS at 10 p.m.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)