Actor Zo In-sung’s long-awaited comeback to the small screen after a five-year hiatus has proven a success.
After completing military service and taking a two-year break from the limelight, Zo returned to television with a vengeance, winning viewers over as an irresistible bad boy with a heart of gold in SBS’ “That Winter, the Wind Blows.”
Onscreen, his role as the conflicted and twisted Oh Soo unwittingly falling for the woman he intends to con reads bold and confident, but at a press event for the drama in Seoul on Thursday, Zo admitted to initially faltering when he took on his character.
“When I first decided to do it, I saw the script and felt it was worth a go,” said the 31-year old actor. “But the more I read it, the more I felt that if I didn’t do it right, it would be a total disaster.
“So there was a moment when I wanted to avoid the role,” Zo confessed. “As the first work that I would be doing after serving in the military, I wanted to do a project and play a role that wouldn’t be something I would be embarrassed about.”
“That Winter, the Wind Blows” stars Zo In-sung (right) and Song Hye-kyo attend the drama’s press conference at De Chocolate Coffee in Apgujeong, Seoul, on Thursday. (SBS)
Zo revealed that he was daunted by the realization that there was a “huge gap between reading the script and acting it out.”
Despite his reservations, Zo tackled his role as a playboy gambler with gusto, deciding to hold nothing back when playing a lowlife scam artist whose survival depends on pulling off the ultimate con ― convincing his deceased friend’s blind sister to hand over her inheritance to him, no questions asked.
With only five more episodes to go, Zo has more than proven he is up to the task.
Not one to rest on his laurels, the actor sent a nod to costar Song Hye-kyo, who plays his character’s love interest Oh Young, for giving him more impetus to step up to the plate and hold his own on set.
“I get the goosebumps when I see Hye-kyo act,” Zo said of Song. “I am honored to be able to work with her and watch her act.”
Song, who plays a blind heiress under the mistaken impression that Oh Soo is her long-lost brother, said of Zo, “Everything about him is passionate.”
The 31-year-old actress expressed gratitude to her costar for being patient when she faced difficulties filming emotional scenes together, and even admitted to having developed a crush on his character, Oh Soo.
“It is a bit of shame ― because my character cannot see, I am unable to make eye contact with In-sung and can only see how it plays out when I monitor the scenes afterwards,” Song said. “I must rely on his voice and his voice carries enough emotional weight for it to work.”
Song then confessed, “There are times when I monitor scenes and I am caught off guard because Oh Soo is so utterly charming.”
That, indeed, seems to be the consensus amongst viewers as well.
When SBS’ “That Winter, The Wind Blows” started airing in mid-February, it was a strong contender in a neck-and-neck ratings race with KBS’ blockbuster “IRIS II” and MBC’s rom-com “Level 7 Civil Servant.”
“That Winter, the Wind Blows” slowly inched forward into the top spot and seems to have clenched a definitive win last week, when it further widened the viewer ratings gap between itself and other Wednesday and Thursday night primetime competitors.
Zo voiced his relief at the success of the drama, pinpointing the power of portraying a “character that audiences can connect to” as a key reason behind why he believes viewers are tuning into “That Winter, The Wind Blows.”
Then, of course, there is the undeniable onscreen chemistry between Zo and Song.
When two major stars like Zo and Song collide and there is friction, it is sure to attract attention.
Zo credited “That Winter, the Wind Blows” director Kim Kyu-tae for all that television magic, saying, “He helps us film more comfortably, gets us to express ourselves more fully.”
“The director always ask us how we are going to act out each scene and then checks to see if we are feeling awkward, if we need to change it up,” Zo elaborated, before adding. “When I was young, there was that desire to be the center of attention as an actor, but I think Hye-kyo and I both know that is not what we are meant to do. We watch out for and support one another.”
Song agreed with Zo on why their budding onscreen romance comes across so convincing, adding, “We don’t prep in advance. We just allow ourselves to become completely consumed by our characters.”
As for real-life romance, Zo said he doesn’t think “there is anyone in particular I want to give chocolates to” on White Day.
“I think love is always a question mark,” the actor said. “Love? It is always hard.”
By Jean Oh (email@example.com