The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Song Joong-ki seeks different genres over types of characters

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Sept. 26, 2023 - 13:07

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Song Joong-ki (HighZium Studio) Song Joong-ki (HighZium Studio)

Actor Song Joong-ki, who has wowed the audience with both commercial and critical TV success through “Reborn Rich” (2022) and “Vincenzo” (2021), chose to show his rough side this time through rookie director Kim Chang-hoon’s noir flick “Hopeless.”

Song, who returned to Korea after spending time with his newborn son and British wife in Rome for nine months, said he has always been on the lookout for opportunities to try new genres and projects internationally.

“Although many people think that I’ve become interested in doing overseas projects after marrying my wife, but I’ve been going to global auditions for many years to try out more genres in different cultures and systems," Song said.

"But of course, my wife gives me a lot of support in many ways because she still has friends in the UK and Hollywood, arranging meetings and auditions for me,” Song said in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Monday.

“But sadly, I failed all of those previous auditions,” Song said, laughing.

Song, whose previous projects are mostly TV dramas, said he has a desire to do a wide variety of genres rather than varied characters, if he had to choose one over the other. The horror genre, for example, is on his to-try list.

“Hopeless” (Plus M) “Hopeless” (Plus M)

“I’ve always wanted to do some rough, noir genre. ‘Hopeless’ was a project that was so coveted that I came to read it only by chance. The person who gave me this scenario even asked me if it would be OK to play a supporting role. I wanted to bring this rough story to the screen without changing its charms, so I decided to join the project for free," said Song, who also took part in the film's production.

Any added cost to the project would mean having to seek outside investment, which could affect the story line and the film's direction, he explained.

In “Hopeless,” Song appears as Chi-gun, a gang boss's right-hand man with a shadowy past. He takes notice of 18-year-old Yeon-kyu, who reminds him of himself when he was younger, and approaches him.

“Throughout the film, it remains ambiguous whether Chi-gun appeared in front of Yeon-kyu to save his life or to take Yeon-kyu’s life to the edge. I loved that part and found it very cinematic, something that can be only shown through a movie,” Song said.

The film has given Song new experiences, such as playing a gang leader, a character Song has never played before, as well as a rough-and-tumble look.

“Hopeless” was invited to the noncompetitive section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May. Song found it an eye-opening experience.

“I had a chance to have dinner with people from a French distribution company and heard that European audiences found our film very interesting for the subjects that the film deals with, such as family violence. Our film’s message to the society has left an impression, I think,” Song said.

Song's next project, which deals with a North Korean defector seeking refugee status in Belgium, in the Netflix film “My Name is Loh Kiwan,” would evoke a similar interest among global audience as well, he added.

His wife was also with him in Cannes, but did not attend red carpet events or the screening because she was near her due date, he said. Some of the violent scenes in the film were not easy for her to watch as well.

“She hasn’t watched the film yet. You know, with a newly born baby, it’s really hard for a couple to sit down and finish a whole movie,” he said, as he showed a picture of his 3-month-old son on his smartphone screen.

“I cannot believe that I have become a father. There is no one right answer to taking care of a baby, but I try to do my best. I talk to him in Korean, you know, my English isn’t that good. My wife and I have talked about it, too. We’ll figure out how the three of us will communicate,” he said, smiling.

“Hopeless” hits theaters on Oct. 11.