[Hedwig Rewind #2] [May 2011] The Musical Magazine
I thought that Kim Dongwan in Hedwig was really an unexpected casting.
It was a little unexpected for me too. Why did I say I would do it (laughs). I must’ve been crazy. Hahaha.
You knew about a production called Hedwig before right? What was the decisive reason to appear in it?
I had absolutely no greed about the musical genre. It was because it looked difficult and I didn’t think I could show more than what musical actors do. So while I didn’t really want to do musicals, I had the thought that if it was Hedwig, I’d like to try it. You see, it’s like this. You have this vague expectation or curiosity about skydiving. You want to try it but it’s a little scary. However, if your friend asks “Wanna try it?,” you say “Sure” and try it out. My feelings [about Hedwig] were similar to that.
Then you must’ve not had a time of hesitation before making the decision to appear.
I didn’t. If it was something to agonize over, I wouldn’t do it. It’s more a matter of whether that conviction stands or not. If it was something to agonize over, I know that it is not mine.
Who did you tell first that you were going to do Hedwig?
I didn’t tell anyone.
Then the people around you must’ve heard the news through the press release? What did people say when they contacted you?
They all congratulated me. That’s probably the strength that Hedwig has. It’s a project that anyone would want to do, but dares not to. But I really think that not anybody can do it. Not because it’s hard, but I think there are a lot of people who wouldn’t understand or accept it.
You said that it’s been three weeks since starting practice, right? How is it going?
The more and more I do it, the more intimidated I feel. The extremely burdensome thing is that the director requested that I do method acting…(laughs). Instead of overly expressing myself, she seems to be expecting me to show what is hidden inside of that, and that’s burdensome. The one thing that’s fortunate is that since [Hedwig] is a transgender that has gone through hell and high water, it’s not necessary to violently run amok. Since I’m acting as someone 20 years after she has bounced around all over the place, that is also hard.
What’s the hardest thing while practicing?
That I have no sincerity? (laughs) I have a part of me that believes in myself. That no matter how badly I do, it can’t be all that bad. That belief (laughs)
I’ve seen a lot of people who are like that and really don’t do well…
I talk like this, but I just say that because I have occupational disease. In fact, I torture myself, so I constantly train myself to say, “It’s okay, you’re doing well. You just have to do this much.” Saying that it’s okay is in itself fighting with the part of you that isn’t okay.
What is the song amongst the musical numbers in Hedwig that you feel is the closest to you?
“Wig in a Box.” As a celebrity, I relate to it a lot. No matter how tortured we feel or have a moment of wanting to die, when we put on our makeup and clothes and stand on the stage, we momentarily forget our troubles. It’s not forgetting because it’s something that has to be forgotten, it just does. In the OST this year, I sing that song. “Wig in a Box” and “Sugar Daddy.” (TN: This interview must’ve happened before the final decision because he ends up singing “Origin of Love” and “Wicked Little Town” on the OST).
During the show, you know that you have to carwash an audience member during “Sugar Daddy,” right?
I found that out the day before yesterday. Fans were saying, “Imagining Kim Dongwan doing the carwash part is terrible,” so I was curious and found that there was a video. Um. I feel that I should wash [the audience member] well. Hahaha.
Which time would you choose as an important period in Hedwig’s life?
Listening to songs while inside the oven when [she was] young. When I see that I still like the songs that I listened to when I was young, I think that time when one first comes into contact with music and listens to the same song hundreds of times is important.
If you were to choose a song that you’ve liked since you were young that would be great to include in Hedwig?
Radiohead’s “Creep.” Nirvana’s “All Apologies. Listless and cynical songs.
What would you say if you were to meet Hansel, who made the decision to have a sex change surgery to go to America with Luther?
I would tell [Hansel] to not cut it off for now and think about it. I think that’s what I would say. But in all honesty, there is nothing I can say in regards to this situation. Hedwig’s background is so complicated and I’ve never had a similar kind of worry, so how could I give advice. I do really like to nag, but for this kind of huge situation, I know how much that person agonized over it, so I’ll watch over and stay by their side so that they can go towards the flow of their thinking.
Hansel made a decision to change her life. It’s like Dongwan-sshi when you made the decision to have a career as a celebrity. Because we usually live without huge ups and downs, I wonder what the experience is like when one makes a decision that will completely change his or her life.
It’s a blessing. While making a decision and succeeding is difficult, not failing is also hard. Just getting to the middle is also hard, but I think I’ve been lucky. When successful people—although I don’t think that I’ve succeeded—say that luck was on their side, I think I know what they mean. Of course, it’s not only because of luck. While leaving the unknown parts to luck, I think it’s not stopping and continuously going forward.
Why do you think you haven’t succeeded yet?
Because I have my own goal, which is to be recognized as an actor and a commercial success. To do that I need to work hard, but I’m not even working hard. Damn it. (laughs) (TN: Recognized as an actor? “The Peak.” Commercial Success? “Deranged“‘s 4.5 million tickets sold and “Cheer Up Mr. Kim’s” almost 28% ratings average. Looks like you’re a success, Actor Kim. :D But of course, he doesn’t rest on his laurels and despite what he says, works super hard. That’s why he is a success, right?)
Your goal to be an actor came about as you’ve done solo activities, right? But do you want to be recognized as an actor because you’ve felt the charms of the occupation, or because you have the large desire of doing whatever you do well?
I think acting is right for me. Being a singer was a “wannabe” occupation because I liked singing and the stage, but for some reason, I felt that being an actor was going to become an occupation that I just had to do. And I’m not doing it because I want to find stability in my life. Honestly, for singers that are as recognized by people like we are, just being a singer is more comfortable in making a living. I heard that current idols have to act in order to increase their income, but it’s not like that for us. (laughs) While touring and doing concerts around Asia, there are lots of days to rest and it is much more stable. But acting is a really fun occupation.
What is it about acting that you find fun?
My face comes out on television. In a solo shot. Haha. It’s really thrilling that people enjoy, are happy, and cry when they see what kind of character I’m under the hypnosis of. I also can occasionally cry my eyes out, and even give somebody an emotional scar. You can also beat someone up to your heart’s content. Even if you can’t do these things in real life situations, getting to experience all these different kinds of emotions relieves stress.
Now finally, please state a resolution.
My resolution is to simply memorize the script and be able to do it. I say this, but if I do it perfectly well, people who are watching me will think I’m provoking them, huh? Hahaha. A lot of people are uneasy because I’m not working hard, but I am waiting for it to become mastered. Ah, my resolution for now. Even though I probably won’t do as well as past Hedwigs, I will show my own Hedwig. That is my resolution.
Credits: The Musical + Kim Dongwan Tumblr (Eng Trans)
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