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[Herald Interview] Byun Yo-han's 'unlikable' character is result of calculated acting

By Kim Da-sol

Published : May 18, 2024 - 16:01

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Byun Yo-han stars in “Following.” (Content Zio) Byun Yo-han stars in “Following.” (Content Zio)

Actor Byun Yo-han, whose appearance in “The Book of Fish” (2021) and “Hansan: Rising Dragon” (2022) left the audience with resonating, serious acting, has returned to the silver screen with an unlikable, somewhat perverted character in “Following.”

The mystery thriller centers on a real estate agent named Gu Jeong-tae (Byun), who has a strange if not perverse habit of peeping into other people’s lives. Whether it’s a person living next door or a client he meets in his office, Jeong-tae thinks nothing is wrong with his secretive life as a voyeur.

Byun said his portrayal of Jeong-tae was possible because he has no prejudice against any human being.

“Through this movie, I found out that I'm an unbiased person. Because the story was so immersive and fun to read, I wanted to also do some fun acting. Also, director Kim Se-hwi’s faith in me motivated me to try this role,” Byun told reporters during an interview in Seoul on May 9. Kim told reporters in a separate interview that she developed the character Jeong-tae by thinking of Byun as the main protagonist.

Byun Yo-han plays Gu Jeong-tae in “Following” (Content Zio) Byun Yo-han plays Gu Jeong-tae in “Following” (Content Zio)

Although it is not easy to play a very unlikable character with weird habits, Byun said it was his meticulously calculated acting that made the character more relatable and realistic.

“I wanted to make sure that Jeong-tae seemed like a real person, not someone out of a fantasy,” he said.

“Jeong-tae is a very complex, somewhat confusing character to me. If I didn’t prepare in detail, I felt I would become overwhelmed by the character. So I asked a lot of questions to the director and the answers were in the script. So I focused on interpreting and finding meaning (in the character’s behavior) based on the story,” he added.

The 38-year-old actor said he researches the period and the setting of a movie, and even digs deeper into the feelings of characters he will play in a philosophical way, when working.

“Once you put all your efforts into learning a character and understanding the story, you are ready to throw yourself into it on the set during the shooting,” Byun said.

While it is rare for an actor to release both a movie and drama series on the exact same day, Byun’s latest series on Disney+, “Uncle Samsik,” and "Following" both opened on Wednesday.

“I think it is very meaningful for me to see both projects opening, finally. All I can say is that I just love every single drama or movie that I have appeared in,” Byun said, expressing special gratitude to the veteran actors with whom he worked on such projects.

“It was (veteran actors) who made me the actor that I am today. I gained wisdom from them, as well as learning realistic acting. My acting ripened all thanks to them. While I will enter my 40s pretty soon, I’m looking forward to becoming an actor with more experience,” Byun added.

“Following” opened in local theaters on Wednesday.