MANILA — Though they consider each other “good friends,” South Korean actors Lee Sungkyung and Kim Youngkwang purposely avoided one another while working on their latest project “Call It Love.”
The pair revealed this during a recent press conference for the Disney+ original K-drama, explaining that maintaining a close relationship on set might interfere with the portrayal of their characters.
“Sometimes I would like to just chat as we always would and have fun, but we kept a deliberate distance from one another… so we can get into character more,” Sungkyung said at the event held ahead of the show’s February 22 premiere.
“Sometimes, when we joke around, we become scared that we’ll fall out of character. So we try to immerse ourselves into the character and try not to joke around. We try to really focus,” said Sungkyung, best known for starring in the 2016 romance series “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bokjoo.”
“Call It Love” follows Sim Woojoo (Sungkyung), who plots revenge after being kicked out of his father’s house by his mistress following his untimely death. She targets the mistress’ son Han Dongjin (Youngkwang), but soon finds herself conflicted when she falls in love with him.
“I tried to avoid Sungkyung on set because my character, Dongjin, he’s lonely. I wanted to maintain that mood and stay in character,” Youngkwang said.
“Because Sungkyun and I are really good friends, we were bound to joke around and laugh. When that happened, director Lee [Kwangyoung] would tell us, when she was monitoring, ‘You’re still smiling a bit on these scenes,’” he recounted.
In some instances, the bubbly Sungkyung “chased after” Youngkwang, who similarly distanced himself from other people to perfectly capture his character.
“I was kind of being chased after by Sungkyung but I tried to get away from everyone. She is very bubbly and cheerful… but what I tried to do is be shy and alone. But sometimes, Sungkyung would just follow me and I would run away from her,” the actor said.
But Youngkwang believes his friendship with Sungkyung also allowed for “great chemistry” between them.
“Because Sungkyung and I go way back, it was very comfortable. I think we had great chemistry,” he said.
Proof of their closeness? Both actors opened up to each other about how they lost a bit of sleep during filming because of the heavy emotions in the series.
“[Youngkwang and I] talked about how we couldn’t really sleep. We couldn’t get a good night’s sleep since we got into these characters and how strange of a feeling that was,” Sungkyung shared.
“In the beginning, I tried not to smile. This is actually the first time I had to do that for a character,” said Sungkyung, noting that Woojoo was completely different from her past roles considering she’s been playing bubbly characters.
Sungkyung said she can also relate to Woojoo, who acts as a sort of head-of-the-household figure following her parents’ divorce.
“Woojoo isn’t actually the oldest in the family but she kind of serves that role and [in real life] I’m the oldest in my family so I could put myself in Woojoo’s shoes,” Sungkyung said.
Actress Kim Yewon plays Sim Haesung, Woojoo’s sister who has a contrasting view when it comes to love.
“Woojoo and Haesung share the same tragic personal history and I think it kind of showed in different ways. Woojoo shuns love but Haesung wants to prove that there is love, true love,” Yewon said.
Completing the lead cast are Sung Jun as Yoon Jun, described as a “dear friend” to Woojoo, and Ahn Heeyeon (Hani of the K-pop group EXID) as Kang Minyoung, Dongjin’s ex-girlfriend who “can’t let go of her past love.”
Director Lee Kwangyoung praised the actors for their professionalism and having “great chemistry.”
“They have very different personalities so I was a bit concerned if they would work well together. But I realized that they are all very considerate of one another and they are just great people in general,” she said.
The actors did not even rehearse much prior to filming the scenes, director Lee shared.
“For all of the cast members, they were already their characters on set so we didn’t really need to rehearse anything. It was the best cut when they were all their own selves and went with their gut,” she said.
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