Joo Jong-hyuk, better known as his character “tactician Kwon Min-woo” in the 2022 hit series “Extraordinary Attorney Woo," transforms into a completely different person in "Iron Mask," the actor's first venture into non-indie film.
“Iron Mask,” which has the Korean title of “One-Ten-Thousandth of a Second,” follows the story of Kim Jae-woo (Joo), who joins an athlete boot camp for the national kendo team selection. There, he meets Tae-su (Moon Jin-seung), who killed Jae-woo's older brother when he was young.
For Joo, it was not easy to portray the detailed emotions of Jae-woo, for many reasons.
“Not only because Jae-woo is the type of person who has a mix of feelings like anger, thoughts of revenge, resentment, a sense of inferiority but expressing all those emotions through the eyes and kendo moves wasn’t easy at all,” said Joo in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Nov. 8.
Having to wear a kendo mask all the time made it “suffocating” to act, he said. Not only was he unable to hear clearly or breathe properly behind the mask, the outgoing actor had to portray an introverted Jae-woo.
“On set, I was asked to 'kill' my personality, because my natural swag would suddenly come out while acting,” said the 32-year-old actor, who studied in New Zealand when he was in middle school.
He said he and Jae-woo don’t have that much in common, but he came to understand who Jae-woo is after reading the scenario and actually playing him.
“I’m the type of person who is open to everything, someone who wants to accept things based on the reactions of others (contrary to Jae-woo who hides his feelings and can’t get over the personal trauma.) I also forget many things very easily,” he said.
“Iron Mask" has given him a chance to learn the type of acting that delves into the character’s inner world.
“I’ve always wanted to do a character whose emotional development the audience can follow. I don’t have a long history of acting and I am looking for ways to improve my acting,” he said, adding that he wants to try humanistic dramas as well as play a villain role in the future.
While he has earned global popularity and recognition at an early stage of his career thanks to the success of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” he said he wanted the film to open early to take advantage of that recognition.
“The director of ‘Iron Mask’ cast me even before ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo.’ So I really appreciate it. I also thought that I should support him. I wished for the film to open right after ‘Woo’ ended, so that the people can come to the theater (to see the movie after that show),” he said.
“Iron Mask” opens in theaters on Wednesday.
The following article is the 13th in a series that introduces Korea’s new and emerging actors and directors. -- Ed.