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[Herald Interview] Cha Seung-won feels less stressed about juggling different roles

Nov. 24, 2023 - 17:28 By Kim Da-sol
Cha Seung-won (Netflix)

The 2018 crime action film “Believer” gave Cha Seung-won a new image as the merciless villain Brian Lee recognized by his white suit and signature bob-cut hairstyle.

Cha reprises the role as the director of an industrial company that secretly operates an illegal drug testing lab in the second installment of the franchise, “Believer 2,” which was released on Netflix on Nov. 15.

“Believer 2” was ranked No. 1 on Netflix’s global top 10 non-English film section Friday, and was among the top 10 list in 23 countries including Singapore, Thailand and Morocco. The first installment of the crime action franchise attracted an audience of 5.2 million.

“I joined the project after reading the scenario, where it mentions what happens to Brian after that bloody battle in Yongsan Station,” Cha told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Friday.

“I hoped to see an ending to Brian. I wished to see the story (that happens to Brian) beyond the screen,” said Cha.

“Believer 2” was produced in a “midquel” style, the country’s first-ever flick that explores a story within the time frame of the previous film.

“This kind of style is really difficult because the film has to go back to the previous time and there are many traps and variables. Also, there are new characters and actors that appear in this film,” said Cha, adding that he did feel the pressure to lead the film as a character that reappears.

“Believer 2," directed by Baek Jong-yul who helmed the 2015 hit romance flick “Beauty Inside,” follows the story of Cho Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong), a determined detective who throws himself into searching for the truth behind Asia’s largest drug ring after a bloody battle in Yongsan Station. Cho travels to Norway as he looks for the elusive leader of the drug gang.

He said although the character he plays is the same, he approached the role from a totally new perspective.

“I wondered if this was the same character from five years ago. The appearance and attitude got different -- after going through pivotal damage -- so I had many questions inside my head. It’s not that I can do that hairstyle again. So I thought that I was playing a new character,” Cha said.

Cha Seung-won in “Believer 2” (Netflix)

Cha, whose image in popular TV variety shows like “Three Meals a Day” and “Family Outing” is friendlier compared to his villain characters, said he feels less burdened by the constant mental switch between appearing in TV variety shows and action, noir films.

“Before, I think I got stress (from having to switch modes in between TV shows and films). I think I wasn’t able to multitask. But now I let it go. I discuss many things with the staff on set and if something doesn’t work out, I shoot again. I’m more relaxed now,” said Cha.

Among the variety shows he's been on, Cha showed particular affection toward the cast and crew of "Three Meals a Day."

“It means more than just a show to me and Yoo Hae-jin. I don’t call Yoo every day, but through this show, we get to stay together and share many talks and thoughts. That show is only possible when we bond with each other,” he said.

“Believer 2” is currently available on Netflix.