Having won the award for Best Supporting Actor at the Grand Bell Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2009 for his part in Bong Joon-Ho's “Mother,” Jin Goo is no stranger to accolades. He started out portraying a younger version of Byung-Hun Lee’s character in the 2006 drama “All In,” and is now one of the most notable faces in Lee's own management agency, BH Entertainment. His acting career has been dotted with diverse and interesting roles such as a chef in “Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle,” a desperate Joseon soldier in “The Showdown” and a gangster in “26 Years.” His latest film, “Northern Limit Line,” was one of the most-watched Korean films in 2015. In his interview with Seoul Journal's Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie, Jin Goo speaks about his relationship with acting, his achievements, and his current and upcoming projects.
SJ: How did you start your acting career?
GOO: I was attending an acting academy after I completed my military service. My debut drama was an SBS drama called “All In” after I passed an audition for child actors.
SJ: What is the most memorable role you have ever played on screen?
GOO: Every single role is my favorite and most memorable. I feel more attached to roles of people that go through pain such as those in “26 Years” or “Battle of Yeonpyeong.”
SJ: Do you have a certain process by which you get into character?
GOO: There is no special process. However, once I am cast, I try to understand each character’s conditions and feelings by researching or reading the screenplay so that I can become immersed in my roles.
SJ: Is there someone you would call your mentor in the entertainment industry?
GOO: Every person I meet when starting a new piece is my teacher – not only those who are more experienced or older than I am, but also directors, staff, and actors, even if they are my junior. They may come up with an idea that I might not think of, are able to give me advice, or be on my side when I am exhausted.
SJ: Could you tell us about directors and actors, both Korean and non-Korean, who you would like to work with?
GOO: Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Wu Yusen and Xu Ke. I started dreaming about becoming an actor by watching their movies. Even though it would be amazing to work with these great masters, I also hope to work with other new directors and produce global masterpieces.
SJ: What do you do to relax?
GOO: I like basketball the most. I like to play basketball, and I watch matches regardless if it’s NBA or KBL (Korean Basketball League). The rest of the time, I like drinking with my close friends. I also like board games, building plastic models, video games, reading, cartoons, and so on. I have too many hobbies!
SJ: Are there any of your roles that you could especially relate to? Did you have any roles that felt like they were similar to you?
GOO:As I mentioned before, I get more attached to roles like Gwak Jin-Bae (“26 Years”) or Han Sang-Guk (“Battle of Yeonpyeong”) because I can feel the most pain from them. Also, they have similar personalities to mine.
SJ: What do you enjoy most about acting?
GOO: Enjoying beer after filming. Whoever they are, I like everyone there because they are the people who worked hard together with me.
SJ: How difficult is it to make it in the acting world?
GOO : It differs depending on your way of thinking. There will definitely be pain if you think it is a thorny path to hell, or there will be sweet happiness if you think it is a cloudy way to heaven. We should think a little differently. Make a habit of being thankful for what you have now instead of complaining.
SJ: Do you ever see yourself acting in foreign film industries? Do you think you would enjoy that?
GOO : In the beginning, there would be constant tension – new people, new culture, and new language. However, I would do well; I am good at adapting.
SJ: Could you tell us a little bit about your current projects?
GOO: I am working on a new KBS drama, “Descendants of the Sun.” It is a melodrama about an unfortunate situation of disaster and terror. It is directed by Lee Eng-Bok (“Secret”) and written by Kim Eun-Suk (“The Heirs” and “A Gentleman’s Dignity”). I play the role of a special force officer named Seo Dae-Young.
SJ: What do you feel is the most important thing for an actor to really do justice to his roles?
GOO: Relationships and personality. I believe it is hard for an individual to reach their full potential if they do not have a good relationship with others. One must smile eagerly and be kind, wherever they are. This guarantees a comfortable film site environment.
SJ: What do you think is the worst mistake an actor can make?
GOO: Losing one’s personality: It means losing everything. If you lose your personality, you can neither be an actor nor a human being.
SJ: What is your advice to aspiring actors?
GOO: You can learn everything about acting through relationships with others. You must focus on even little conversations when having drinks or teatime, with not only actors, but with all kinds of people. This may not be the best answer, but I learned a lot from this through my 13 years of experience in acting.