Yoo Seung-ho breaks away from image as child actor in 'The Deal'
Yoo Seung-ho has experienced both advantages and setbacks due to having started out his career as a child actor.
He recently wrapped up filming for “The Deal,” an original web series for streaming service Wavve, in which he says he was finally able to break free from the image he had from his days as a child actor.
“I think this is my most important work yet, because for the first time I feel like I have chosen the job of an actor myself and feel settled in it,” Yoo said during a group interview with local reporters in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Monday. “I knew what my image was as an actor when I was first offered the script for ‘The Deal,’ and I was very surprised because it was different from that image.”
In “The Deal,” Yoo plays Jun-seong, a young man who was once the center of attention as a would-be football star, before his dreams were shattered. Jun-seong gets involved in a scheme to kidnap a rich former classmate and becomes increasingly violent and ill-mannered. This stands in stark contrast to Yoo’s former roles, in which the actor usually played well-to-do, gentle characters.
“I think in my previous works I have always played serious and honest characters,” Yoo said. “So playing Jun-seong was a turnaround for me. Changing one’s image drastically is very hard, I know, and I also know that it is particularly hard for me since my image as a child actor is still strong. But I was offered this chance and I took it, and the end result was pretty satisfactory for me.”
The character of Jun-seong swears often and smokes in many scenes in “The Deal,” and acting out such scenes was “exhilarating” for Yoo.
“I felt my hands shaking when I was filming the first smoking scene,” Yoo said. “I worried a lot about how it would appear in the footage taken by the camera. But it was also exhilarating in a sense, that I was able to break out of a kind of mold that I was in.”
Yoo debuted in 2000 through the drama “Daddy Fish” and rose to stardom in 2002 with the film “The Way Home,” where he plays a young grandson who forms a slow and unlikely bond with his long-lost grandmother. He continued his career in films and dramas including “Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-sin” (2004), “City of Fathers” (2009), “Master of Study” (2010) and “I’m Not a Robot” (2017). Choosing “The Deal” as his most recent work has also come from a desire to play a role that shows machismo, according to Yoo.
“I wanted to play a character that is quite macho,” Yoo said. “I think this goes for all actors — that if you are an actor, you want to play something that you haven’t done before. I hadn’t done many crime or thriller works, so I was naturally drawn to ‘The Deal.’”
Regarding the question of good and evil in his character Jun-seong, Yoo said the character is neither a representation of good nor evil but that there is a combination of both in every person, whether real or fictional.
“I think there is a two-sided coin of good and evil in everybody,” Yoo said. “My character Jun-seong kidnaps a former classmate solely for money, and that is very bad, but he also wants to make sure the friend does not get hurt and that he and his accomplices stick to a limit as to the lengths to which they will go for their goal. I think in real life, too, discerning whether a person is good or evil is complicated.”
Although Yoo had nothing like his character’s experiences, he did have a period of time when he was rebellious, especially against his parents, the actor said.
“I got into a lot of fights with my parents because of my being a child actor, since I wasn’t allowed to freely do the things that my friends could do,” Yoo said. “Just normal things like going to a PC room or staying up late after school.”
Now that he has just entered his 30s, Yoo feels that he is changing for the better.
“I used to be very uptight and would only consider my own liking in choosing roles and such,” he said. “But I am now more open to different possibilities and listen to others’ opinions when making decisions, which I think is a good thing.”
BY LIM JEONG-WON [email@example.com]