'Kingmaker' lead actor Lee Sun-kyun says 'nothing has really changed' after 'Parasite' - Korea Times
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'Kingmaker' lead actor Lee Sun-kyun says 'nothing has really changed' after 'Parasite'

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Actors Seol Kyung-gu, left, and Lee Sun-kyun attend an online press conference for the film,
Actors Seol Kyung-gu, left, and Lee Sun-kyun attend an online press conference for the film, "Kingmaker," Monday. Courtesy of Megabox Plus M

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Two years after starring in the Oscar-winning film, "Parasite," actor Lee Sun-kyun is returning to the big screen with "Kingmaker," a political drama that appears to be timely, as the nation has four months to go before the presidential election in March. The actor tried to be humble, saying that he doesn't feel any different before or after receiving the international acclaim.

"Nothing really has changed," he said during a press conference for the film, Monday. "To be able to bring the positive energy from my last film and come play in this role was an exciting opportunity for me."

Directed by Byun Sung-hyun, whose 2017 film, "The Merciless," was invited for a midnight screening at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the upcoming film follows politician Kim Woon-beom (Seol Kyung-gu), who teams up with "kingmaker" Seo Chang-dae (Lee), to run for the presidential election. The cast also includes Yoo Jae-myung, Jo Woo-jin and Kim Sung-oh.

The director said that he wanted to raise the question of whether or not those with questionable ethics can still run for the election and if they win, if their victory can be justified.

"I wanted to ask the audience whether the end can justify the means. The film is set in the 1960s and '70s, but its story is entirely relevant to these days," Byun said.

Seol said that he received the script for "Kingmaker" when he was filming "The Merciless."

"It was sort of a one-plus-one deal," he said with a laugh. "At that time, I was like, 'Let's see how The Merciless turns out, and then I'll decide on the next one.' The 2017 film was a success, so I decided to take part in this project."

From left, actor Seol Kyung-gu, director Byun Sung-hyun and actor Lee Sun-kyun pose during the online press conference for the film,
From left, actor Seol Kyung-gu, director Byun Sung-hyun and actor Lee Sun-kyun pose during the online press conference for the film, "Kingmaker," Monday. Courtesy of Megabox Plus M

The veteran actor revealed that he was under a lot of pressure because he had to portray a demagogue. Seol completed a five-hour long filibuster scene, memorizing all the lines. Since it was impossible to gather a large crowd in the climactic scene, he put in extra effort to captivate the audience and deliver a killer speech.

"Woon-beom has this bold, brash and provocative personality that just put me under so much pressure," Seol said.

"I was stressed out about the speech scene because it was just me talking endlessly of his lofty goals. I didn't know how to adjust the tone and manner of Woon-beom. I wasn't sure how it would look after blending with CGI (computer-generated imagery), so I asked Byun for help."

Lee said that he was over the moon when he received the offer because he was a big fan of both Byun and Seol.

"After watching 'The Merciless,' I became a fan of Byun. His unique directing style is very fresh and stylish. Moreover, it was an honor to star alongside Seol, who has been my role model since the beginning of my career," he said.

The 46-year-old actor shared a story showing how he felt he was destined to take part in the project.

"Before I decided to join the cast, I was filming the tvN series, 'My Mister.' There was a scene of me watching a movie in a theater, and the movie that the production team played was 'Peppermint Candy,' with Seol in the lead role. It felt like I was destined to work with him," Lee said.

He added, "There's another funny story about Byun. We actually ran into each other in a beauty salon. I remember telling him that I enjoyed reading the script for 'Kingmaker.'"

Alongside "Parasite," Lee is known for the Apple Original series, "Dr. Brain" while Seol appeared recently in director Lee Joon-ik's black-and-white film, "The Book of Fish."

"Kingmaker" will hit local theaters in December.


Kwak Yeon-soo yeons.kwak@koreatimes.co.kr


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