[CELEB] Joo Won takes on pioneering role in new Netflix original 'Carter'

Joo Won as Carter in the new Netflix original film ″Carter″ [NETFLIX]

"I read all the reviews, and while I can sympathize with the negative ones, I am still proud to have taken part in such a trailblazing film in the Korean movie industry — I sort of feel like a pioneer!" actor Joo Won told the local press on Thursday during an online interview about his new Netflix original film "Carter."

Released on Aug. 5, "Carter” is a one-shot action film about a man named Carter, portrayed by Joo Won, who wakes up missing his memories. Directed by a mysterious voice from a device in his ear, he sets off on a hostage rescue mission rife with danger.

The scenes of all 134 minutes of the movie have been arranged to look like there were zero cuts. It was also largely filmed with a hand-held camera, often at various unfamiliar angles, like under the car wheels or above the ceiling — all factors that are not often utilized in Korean cinema. Such methods used in "Carter" make the film resemble video games at times, with some saying it is too dizzying to watch.

"It may not be perfect, and there are certain parts that I think both me and director Jung Byung-gil would agree we could do better if we could have a do-over," said Joo Won. "But I think 'Carter' was successful in trying something new and showing the world the innovative nature of Korean movies."

Joo Won as Carter in the new Netflix original film ″Carter″ [NETFLIX]

Whether people liked the end result or not, it certainly captured the interest of many around the world.

"Carter" debuted at No. 1 on Netflix's latest weekly viewership chart of non-English films, according to the streaming platform on Tuesday. It accumulated 27.3 million hours of viewing for the week of Aug. 1 to 7, becoming the first Korean-language film to top Netflix’s chart in the category.

"I am incredibly grateful," Joo Won said. "It is always rewarding to see such good results after everyone has worked so hard."

"Carter" is Joo Won's first film in seven years and also his first time working with a streaming platform to have his work be simultaneously released around the world.

For the role, he said that he worked especially hard to make himself look believable as a skilled fighter. He shaved his head and gained seven kilograms (15 pounds), bulking up on both muscles and body fat to best resemble the physical shape of the Carter that he and director Jung had imagined.

Joo Won as Carter in the new Netflix original film ″Carter″ [NETFLIX]

Joo Won also had a very clear image of Carter's wardrobe. Regarding Carter's choice of clothes during his first fight scene, which takes place in a public bathroom with Joo Won wearing nothing but a thong, the actor said that he was the one who wanted to sport that look.

"I wasn't originally supposed to wear a thong for that scene. […] I think the director had something else in mind, but I wanted to wear it because I thought it would have a significant impact," said Joo Won. "When Carter first wakes up naked, he has no memories. I connected Carter's emotions for that scene with the time that I was doing my mandatory military service. When all the men are naked in the shower room, the fact that you are in the army really starts to settle in and you shift into this very submissive mode. I believe Carter felt something similar to that as he blindly followed the orders coming from his ear piece."

Joo Won also lowered his voice for "Carter."

"The Carter that I imagined was someone very strong who could overcome anything, and one of the first thoughts that came to me was a low voice," he said. "Also, Carter doesn't have too many lines, and I wanted the ones that he did have to be impactful."

Joo Won said the reason his character doesn't talk too much is because he and the director found that too many lines slow down the film when it is filmed in a single take. "In this kind of filming style, lines aren't very important. The director even took out lines that we had filmed."

Joo Won as Carter in the new Netflix original film ″Carter″ [NETFLIX]

Another obvious point of focus for the actor was the action, as Joo Won showcases viscerally violent and nail-biting action performances.

"When I first read the script and saw scenes like battling in the air and skydiving, I wasn't sure they would be possible," he said. Adding that he mostly performed the action sequences himself instead of using a stunt double, Joo Won said he underwent an intense training period of about three or four months.

But the hardest part about shooting action scenes, he said, was memorizing the sequences. Since the film is shot in single, long takes of around 15 minutes, Joo Won had to be perfectly in sync with dozens of co-stars and background actors.

"Sometimes sequences would change on the spot, which made it even more difficult," he said.

Joo Won as Carter in the new Netflix original film ″Carter″ [NETFLIX]

As this year marks Joo Won's 16th year since debuting as an actor in live theater, he said that he sees his career as one that is dynamic and challenging.

"I have always chosen works that I see as a challenge and something new," he said. "While being liked and accepted by the public is important, I strive to follow my own philosophies as an actor as well."

Joo Won debuted as a musical theater actor in 2007 through a comedy musical titled “Altar Boyz.”

Joo Won, right, and musical star Ivy during a scene of the 2013 production of ″Ghost″ [SEENSEE COMPANY]

Joo Won's first small screen appearance came in 2010 through the KBS drama series “Bread, Love and Dreams.” He played the character of Goo Ma-jun, a rival baker to an up-and-coming rookie baker Kim Tak-gu, who was portrayed by actor Yoon Shi-yoon. For his performance, Joo Won was awarded the rookie prize during the 2010 KBS Drama Awards.

Some of the actor's other prominent works include KBS's drama "Bridal Mask" (2012), where he portrayed a masked independence activist during the Japanese colonial period (1910-45), and SBS drama series "Yong-pal" (2015), where he portrayed a talented yet poor surgeon who, under the alias of Yong-pal, makes money by operating illegally on criminals or their captives.

Actor Joo Won [NETFLIX]

Joo Won (Moon Jun-won)

Date of birth: Sept. 30, 1987
Zodiac sign: Libra
Birthplace: Undisclosed
Debut: 2007 through the musical “Altar Boyz”
Agency: Studio Santa Claus Entertainment

Joo Won debuted as a musical theater actor in 2007 through a comedy musical titled “Altar Boyz.” His first appearance on the small screen came in 2010 through the KBS drama series "Bread, Love and Dreams." For his performance, Joo Won was awarded the rookie prize during the annual KBS Drama Awards. He soon after made his first appearance on the silver screen as well through a movie titled "Fashion King" in 2014. He is best known for his performances in KBS drama series “Bridal Mask” in 2012 and SBS drama series "Yong-pal" in 2015. Joo Won was also part of a team on Season 2 of the local variety show "2 Days & 1 Night" for about seven months in 2010.

This information was confirmed by Studio Santa Claus Entertainment on Aug. 10, 2022.

Joo Won, middle, and actor Yoon Shi-yoon, left, in a scene of KBS drama ″Bread, Love and Dreams″ (2010) [SCREEN CAPTURE]
Joo Won in a scene of ″Bridal Mask″ [SCREEN CAPTURE]