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Interview with Coupang Play's new series BOYHOOD star Lim Si-wan

Nov 23, 2023
  • Source by Cine21
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"Live as if you'll die today, die as if you'll live tomorrow."


The new series Boyhood from the domestic streaming platform Coupang Play will be premiered on the 24th. Boyhood is about the story of Im Si-wan (Byung-tae), a geek from Onyang, South Chungcheongnam Province, whose lifelong goal is to live without being bullied, becoming the boss overnight. The drama is a new series directed by Lee Myung-woo, known for The Fiery Priest. 


Boyhood provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy the most innocent facial expressions of actor Im Si-wan. The moment Byung-tae slowly blinks his eyes, pokes his lips out, fills the screen with the atmosphere, holds soju and cigarettes he has never smoked before, then Im Si-wan, who used to squeeze both the characters and the audience with eerie eyes in the recent Emergency Declaration and Unlocked, is gone.




(Image : Coupang Play) 



Although you have portrayed youth in various works, it's been a while since you played a high school student.

As soon as I read the script, I felt the urge to do this work. I'm so touched that the director made my character as half my real age! I couldn't miss the opportunity to play a character who is much younger than my actual age. (Laughs)


While you've experienced historical dramas in works like The Attorney, A Melody to Remember and The King in Love, this is the first time portraying a high school student from a specific era and region like in Boyhood.

The setting of being a high school student in the late 1980s with the regional background of Onyang neighborhood (downtown Asan city) became an excellent device for immersion in acting. I believed in the power of the narrative and comfortably portrayed Byung-tae. Since the setting was specific to Chungcheong Province, I had to have a Chungcheong accent, so I visited the region to learn the dialect by talking to elderly people.


Byung-tae has many close-up shots, and each time, his innocent expression is impressive.

Some of my acquaintances are very easy to tell what they are thinking just by looking at their faces. I didn't deliberately study various expressions to play Byung-tae. Instead, I focused on how quickly and transparently I could react to the stimuli given to Byung-tae.


Misunderstandings and coincidences accumulate, and Byung-tae gradually becomes the 'Asan White Tiger.' Moreover, Byung-tae, being a good actor, handles the 'Asan White Tiger' role quite well.

Actually, I hoped for the opposite. I hoped that Byung-tae's acting as the White Tiger would look awkward to the viewers, and the gang members led by Cheol-hong (Kim Jung-jin) would also look uneasy. The writer ingeniously crafted the story to accumulate misunderstandings in specific situations.



(Image : Coupang Play) 



Byung-tae is not just acting as another character but gradually becomes immersed in that character. Have there been moments when you, as an actor, felt a sense of affinity with Byung-tae?

Among all the characters I've played, there hasn't been one as awkward and innocent as Byung-tae. So, I thought that more than any other role, Byung-tae might resemble the real me. Of course, there are many differences between Byung-tae and me. For example, Byung-tae's lack of skill in simple arithmetic is different from me. (Laughs)


The relationship with the father played by actor Seo Hyun-chul is also quite interesting. How was the chemistry with actor Seo Hyun-chul?

Every moment of acting with Seo was enjoyable, and it was full of things to learn. There was a day when we filmed the scene where Byung-tae's homeroom teacher praises him to his father. I was curious about how he came up with the ad-lib expression of the father, who became happy after hearing the compliment. I remember being surprised when he said he used an interesting story he heard on the radio on the way to the shoot and used it as an ad-lib.


The phrase "Live as if you'll die today, die as if you'll live tomorrow," quoted in the drama's dialogue, is constantly repeated in the title sequence's OST lyrics. This sentence, meaning that if you want to live, you must face death, and if you want to die, you must embrace life, does not seem unrelated to Byung-tae, who needs to find a new way of life in the city of Buyeo. What does "Live as if you'll die today, die as if you'll live tomorrow" mean to Byung-tae and actor Im Si-wan?

Byung-tae would have adopted "Live as if you'll die today, die as if you'll live tomorrow" as a philosophy to establish his school life and relationships with friends. For actor Im Si-wan, "Live as if you'll die today, die as if you'll live tomorrow" represents the determination to strive for excellence in every acting performance as a professional.


Byung-tae wears various personas as misunderstandings overlap. In that process, was there a consistent core that you didn't want to miss expressing?

Byung-tae has a sense of awkwardness. Everyone has awkward side in their school days. I hope that Boyhood and Byung-tae can evoke memories of the precious past, even if they were awkward. I made an effort not just to depict Byung-tae as a good person. Instead, I wanted viewers to discover in Byung-tae the desires and greed and selfishness that anyone might have experienced in relationships before becoming an adult.



by Jeong Hyun-jung 

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