Lover: It was a bit unbelievable I suppose, the way your character manipulated the hard-bitten detective, and basically got away with murder. It must’ve been daunting for you, as you played alongside a famous Korean actor, Ahn Sung Ki. But then you’d already been successful in School 2, a very popular series made in 1999. By the way, I don’t intend this to be a critique of all your roles. I’m more interested in Ha Ji-won herself.
Ji-won: Haha but maybe my characters are more interesting than I am. I haven’t murdered anyone, so far.
Lover: Mmm, that’s a question, how many people have you killed so far in your roles? What’s your body count?
Ji-won: Haha, I’m too embarrassed to say. Not so many. I wish I’d killed more, haha.
Lover: I read that you were given a difficult time by the director during that film. But it must’ve been exciting to work with Ahn Sung Ki, with whom you worked again in Duelist and Sector 7. I note that in a 2001 interview you referred to him as your ‘ideal type’, and this caused some surprise. Of course this was in response to an interview question which was probably designed to uncover your taste in boyfriends, so it was nice that you chose a veteran actor.
Ji-won: Yes, I took the question a bit differently haha, looking at the ideal person I’d want to be, an actor familiar with different roles and wanting to challenge himself, and also relaxed with who he is, confident, and supporting everyone around him. And fun too. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that person, but that’s what I try for.
Lover: You’re famous for pushing yourself really hard, immersing yourself in your character in a complete identification, losing yourself in the role even to a dangerous degree – for example you’ve said you needed help to get over your immersion in the character in Sector 7. So here’s a question you may not like. Have you ever thought that there may be a problem in this, in that the character, or the scenario, isn’t convincing or plausible enough to be worth that effort? I suppose I’m thinking from the perspective of a writer, so I often look critically at the screenplay or the scenario, rather than the acting. Though I admit that when you’re on the screen, that emphasis changes!
Ji-won: Really? What do you mean?
Lover: Oh, it’s hard to explain, I suppose I identify with you too much, I identify with you identifying with the character, and everything else goes out the window. But you must think in retrospect that some of your films or dramas have been better written or more artistically successful than others, leaving aside popularity.
Ji-won: Oh, yes, once I’m detached from them, but then I don’t tend to watch my old stuff or analyse it, I’m usually busy with my next project… I try to give my best at the time and once it’s over I leave it to others to judge. But yes when I’m working on something I sometimes criticise different scenes – we all do, really, if we don’t feel that a particular scene or speech works – it’s a team effort, though ultimately the director has the final say – it’s his project in the end.