Thursday, December 13, 2007
Lee Ji Ah, "'The Legend' is a turning point in my life"
An 'instant star' unprecedented in the history of the Korean entertainment industry was born: actress Lee Ji Ah of the recent series "The Legend."
She instantly became the heroine in an epic drama series with a 60 billion won budget with no acting experience whatsoever. Positive reviews came out from around despite being amongst a cast of big names. With her bright image, she even was able to sign on to be the image models of various commercials.
Lee Ji Ah who was shy and not able to look straight into the camera said, "I am still afraid of the camera." Rather contrasting from her tomboy image that links arms with 'Yon-sama' without hesitation in the series.
"I am actually very shy among people. I'm not as valiant as Soojini. But I am similar to her in that I am straightforward and like to play. Poking the other person while starting a conversation and playing around in the drama is similar to my real self."
Lee Ji Ah gathered the spotlight as Soojini who devotes her loyalty and love to Damdeok (played by Bae Yong Joon). Born with the power of one of the four gods, she not only acted out the melo-dramatic scenes with intricate emotions mixed in, but also action scenes that are difficult for male actors. Thanks to that she became a star 'overnight.'
"I still can't feel it being real. All throughout the shoot I was traveling around different sets, and afterwards I've been busy with interviews and commercial shoots so I never had the chance to see or feel what the response is among the public. But my parents and other people around me have been telling me that they didn't know I would be able to accomplish such a thing."
She was born in Korea but went over to the U.S. in elementary school, later to enter the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. While attending, she went to the audition for "The Legend" being introduced by an acquaintance.
"I didn't exactly dream of being an actress since I was young. Of course I thought it was a very fascinating occupation. Being able to move people through the eyes and actions of an actor seemed truly fascinating to me."
After first being introduced to producer Kim Jong Hak, her casting was determined after 30 or so additional meetings. It was after script reading and other thorough tests.
"I was so happy I couldn't say anything to the people around me. I was afraid that the results would change later on. The position was much too greater than what I deserved but he said he liked my boldness and confidence."
After being cast, she immediately started training in vocalization, acting, character analysis, horseback riding, action, and everything else that is needed to be an actor from the start. She learned how to speak like a tomboy rather than her usual soft-spoken tone and even changed her walking posture.
"At first I was afraid of horses, but now I enjoy riding them. In the series, I was able to act out most of the scenes aside from the very dangerous ones. I even rode the horse myself in scenes where we are going full speed."
However, in the series, she appeared throughout with an image that is hard to tell if she is a boy or girl. She even put on darker makeup to hide her light skin tone. Some actresses may the situation find it rather disappointing.
"After I ate, the area around my mouth became white. Since I had dark makeup on, only the makeup around my mouth came off. But I liked the bright characteristic of Soojini."
There weren't even any true melo-dramatic scenes.
"Can you imagine Soojini kissing? I don't feel disappointed that there wasn't such a scene. There was a scene where Soojini puts armor on Damdeok before she leaves, but I think there was enough of the emotion expressed in that scene. The scene is one of my most memorable, too."
She even was exposed to the possibility of many injuries. Her legs were kicked by a horse she couldn't avoid.
"I was speaking to another actor and should have avoided the horse when it came towards me, but I couldn't. My left shin that was hit was swollen. I could have been hurt greatly."
To her, there is another hurdle she must overcome other than injuries and acting. Co-star Bae Yong Joon. It must not have been easy to act opposite one of Asia's greatest star.
"I lacked in many ways. I did not have enough experience. On the other hand, Bae Yong Joon took care of many subtle things despite his status as a top star. I really felt his professionalism. He taught me many things about acting as well."
She also said the cold weather was one of the hardest things while filming. Additionally, "As this was my first time acting, I got confused within myself after hearing the many advices from senior actors. I regret not being able to absorb everything faster."
Choosing Cate Blanchett as her favorite actress because of her deep and wide acting spectrum, Lee Ji Ah says, "'The Legend' is a turning point in my life. I was able to learn many great things from great senior actors."
Related Tags: Bae Yong Joon/ Lee Ji Ah/ korean drama/ korean series/ The legend/ Soojini