Actor Gang Dong-won is turning into a sly con artist pretending to be an exorcist in the new fantasy comedy film "Dr. Cheon and Lost Talisman."
Based on the popular webtoon "Possessed," the comedy action film revolves around fraudulent exorcist Dr. Cheon (Gang), who lures clients through his exorcism YouTube channel with his assistant In-bae (Lee Dong-Hwi).
One day, he comes across a new client, Yoo-kyung (Esom), and faces a real case of demonic possession. Joining forces, the duo tries to save Yoo-kyung's possessed sister from a powerful evil spirit, Beom Cheon (Huh Joon-ho).
The film marks the directorial debut of filmmaker Kim Seong-sik, who worked as an assistant director on Bong Jong-ho's "Parasite" (2019) and Park Chan-wook's "Decision to Leave" (2022).
Gang said he was drawn to the intriguing and unique plot of the film, although he was worried that the role shared similarities to his previous role as a free-wheeling magician in the 2009 comedy film "Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard."
"When I read the script I thought it was overall refreshing and interesting. But the character was somewhere in between the one I played in 'Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard' and 'A Violent Prosecutor.' So there was something overlapping about the character (with previous roles). So I tried my best to avoid that," he said during a press conference for the movie at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul, Tuesday.
"The character from 'Jeon Woo-chi' was one-dimensional and charming because he didn't have any flaws. But Dr. Cheon has a trauma in himself so I tried to build layers when I expressed emotions through the character."
The film involves heavy computer graphics to depict the spirits and a flair of cartoon-style visuals to portray spiritual possession. The director shared that he found it difficult to breathe life into the fantasy story.
"The most important things that I brought from the original work were the character of Dr. Cheon and possession. The spiritual possession triggered my interest, so I wanted to visualize that," he said.
"I do agree that if the computer graphics look too fake, it will make the movie corny. So I tried to stay in the middle. I tried to find the balance by having reality as the foundation and building onto it with techniques."
Veteran actor Huh also noted the challenges of his role.
"This was such a difficult character. I could see that I didn't portray the appropriate emotion in some scenes, for which I apologize. I wanted to challenge myself with an unfamiliar genre and I've gained this many great people," he said.
"I wanted to try a genre that I know nothing about. And (as a result) I've gained hope to do the action genre again. It was difficult and I can't say I've done it well. But I feel that it's a genre that I can challenge myself with again."
"Dr. Cheon and Lost Talisman" will be released in Korea on Sept. 27.