Rookie Scene-Stealer Lets It Out
KWON Hyun-sang is still an unfamiliar name in Korean cinema, that is until one mentions his father’s name. The first Korean director to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival competition with Chunhyang
in 2000, and receive an award for Best Director in 2002 for Chihwaseon
, IM Kwon-taek is in fact the father of KWON Hyun-sang. Born as IM Dong-jae, his firm desire to become an actor despite his family’s oppositions had him adopt the stage name KWON Hyun-sang as an attempt to start out with a clean slate that had no strings attached to his father’s legacy. “I hated the nickname, ‘IM Kwon-taek’s son’ following me. I really want to be recognized as KWON Hyun-sang, the actor and not the son of one of the Masters of Korean Cinema.”
Now his hard work is definitely gaining momentum. Since his first official step as an actor in 2008 with the horror flick Death Bell, he has slowly extended his filmography with films like Don’t Cry Mommy, The Tower and Almost Che, as well as TV in drama titles such as The King 2 Hearts, Queen of Ambition and Mandate of Heaven. He finally grabbed his first lead role in the independent film Let Me Out, released on August 15th.
Co-directed by KIM Chang-lae and SOH Jae-young (a.k.a. Jae SOH), both professors at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, Let Me Out is a KRW 150 million (approx. USD 138,057) budget indie flick about a film student’s attempt at making his graduation film going haywire. Sold to US distributor Funimation following its screening at last year's Dallas International Film Festival, Let Me Out opened in theaters in both Korea and five U.S. venues including Los Angeles.
“Two and a half years ago, right before I started shooting the TV drama The King 2 Hearts, my agent urged me to audition for a lead role in this independent film. Reading the script, I noticed I would be in almost every scene if I got the part. I was fortunate enough to grab the role, but when we actually went into production, I experienced so much pressure at first as the male lead. I am thankful that both directors I worked with were so accommodating as well as the crew and fellow cast members, especially as most of them are around the same age as I am, we were able to make the film shoot a lot of fun.”
KWON Hyun-sang stars as the self-absorbed Mu-young, overcharged with knowledge but with zero experience in filmmaking in Let Me Out
, a coming-of-age film following a headstrong but immature film student who wisens up through the trials-and-errors of making a film with his crew. A film school graduate himself, KWON Hyun-sang automatically reached back to the numerous budget and time-crunching days of short film student productions during his university years to play Mu-young, a character he could easily relate to. His realistic performance combined with the delicate direction of both directors turned out to be a success, as the end result transformed him into a male lead that could carry a film from beginning to end.
However, for KWON Hyun-sang, the weight of a role doesn’t seem to be as significant as becoming acknowledged as a ‘scene stealer’ who can capture the audiences’ attention. “There are roles that hit you right on the spot even if it’s for a brief moment. CHO Seong-ha in The Yellow Sea, PARK Sung-woong in New World and KIM Yun-seok who plays A-gwi in Tazza: The High Rollers (2006) are some to name a few. There are many fellow actors I respect: RYOO Seung-bum, HA Jung-woo, CHO Seung-woo, the list goes on. The difference between these actors and myself is that they were born with a lot while I was born with less which leaves me with more room to develop.” (laughs)
By TAE Sang-joon