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[Herald Interview] Ahn Jae-hong, Jeong Jin-woon say actors bonded as one team in ‘Rebound’

By Kim Da-sol

Published : April 11, 2023 - 16:11

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Actors Ahn Jae-hong (left) and Jeong Jin-woon (right) (Barunson EA) Actors Ahn Jae-hong (left) and Jeong Jin-woon (right) (Barunson EA)

“Rebound,” a basketball film by director Jang Hang-joon that opened in local theaters on April 5, is based on the real-life event of a national high school basketball championship that was held in 2012. The Busan Chung Ang High School team, the Underdogs, makes it to the finals for the first time ever with only six members.

“When I first heard that it was a film about basketball, I thought basketball is an old sport liked by some fans here who have a special attachment to the Slam Dunk comic book,” actor Ahn Jae-hong told The Korea Herald in an interview held in Seoul on March 29.

“But after I finished reading the screenplay and when director told me that it was based on a real-life event, I immediately searched for news (about it) and couldn’t believe that such a drama actually existed,” he said.

Ahn, who plays Busan Chung Ang High School basketball coach Kang Yang-hyun, said he tried his best to "copy and paste" the real-life character, wanting to deliver the heartwarming message of the film.

“I focused on vividly telling the story by becoming coach Kang. I wanted to portray him as someone who is not reachable, but anyone, including the audience, can comfortably understand in the film,” Ahn explained, adding that he frequently met with Kang to learn his gestures, ways of speaking and even his walk.

“After meeting with him often and exchanging life stories over soju, I even felt sorry that coach Kang had to lead a team of young students when he himself was also so young. He must have been very nervous to debut as a coach and endure the difficulties at the same time," Ahn said.

Actor Jeong Jin-woon, who plays Bae Kyu-hyeok, the team's ace with an injured ankle, said he also often met with Bae and became friends, but did not ask him too much about what he felt on the court.

“I felt that I may look like I was acting to show Kyu-hyeok in 2021 if I asked him too much about how he felt on the court. Instead, I decided to become the character by being a high school basketball player,” Jeong told The Korea Herald in a separate interview held in Seoul on April 3.

To interpret Kyu-hyeok in his way, the 32-year-old actor suggested that director Jang allow him to get tanned to portray the character, who was recruited to the team off the street.

“Kyu-hyeok is a person who has struggled in life. He started playing basketball to earn money by playing street basketball," said Jeong, reflecting on how his character had a rough upbringing in which he had to earn a living on his own playing the sport outdoors.

Jeong, known for his basketball prowess, said he felt that he and the five other actors who appear as high school team members in the film bonded as one sports team while shooting.

“We had a training camp for few weeks in Andong (in North Gyeongsang Province). We also stayed with real high school basketball team members and trained together. That time, we felt that we had really become a team,” Jeong recalled.

Ahn also said there was a team spirit on the set of “Rebound," just like in his rookie days when he was shooting footvolley film “The King of Jokgu” in 2013.

“Looking at the rookie actors on the screen reminded me a lot of my rookie days 10 years ago. Not just because the film is about a team sports, we really came to understand each other by spending time together,” said Ahn.

“Rebound” opened in local theaters on April 5.

“Rebound” (Barunson EA) “Rebound” (Barunson EA)