“Mr Sunshine” Interview ~ Yoo Yeon Seok
Q: Please tell us the reason why you chose Mr Sunshine and your first impression after reading the script.
YYS: The script was not ready when I was cast. After reading the introduction of the character, I understood the character I was going to play was Gu Dong Mae. There is only one woman in his heart. Because this is a character similar to what I played before, I thought I could express the character well. Also, it would be fun working with writer Kim Eun Seok and Director Lee Eung Bok, I looked forward to it. When I first read the script, I found it very interesting. On top of it, while I was analyzing the character Dong Dong Mae, I was worrying a lot on how to portray his charm.
Q: After going through all these worries, what have you decided to portray Gu Dong Mae’s charm?
YYS: In Dong Mae’s thinking, his home country had already abandoned him. Having lived as a butcher’s son had broken his heart and he left Chosun, however there is only one person whom he cannot forget and this person is a female who treats him as a human. Because of this single reason, he returned to Chosun. He looks cold-blooded but he has the passion of pure love, the character of Dong Mae has these two aspects. He doesn’t care if the whole world is against him except only one woman Go Ae Shin, I think this is his charm. He is a person who doesn’t care when he is going to die. I was very worried on how to portray his actions and gaze. His aspect of passion towards Ae Shin is similar to the project I played before. Also, in order to portray Gu Dong Mae’s way of life, visually I wanted to give him a distinctive look.
Q: I think his visual looks distinctive by wearing kimino and carrying Japanese sword. What are your thoughts about the costumes and makeup?
YYS: I have to glue facial hair on my face every time. Because it was my first time wearing kimono, I found it very interesting. Actually, it was not easy at all wearing geta (traditional Japanese footwear) and carrying Japanese sword to act out scenes. When I first wore Dong Mae’s costume, I didn’t get used to it and I found it not suitable however now I am so used to it to the extent that I found it uncomfortable not wearing it.
Q: Did you have any reference materials to act out the scenes wearing kimono and what did you watch?
YYS: I searched and found lots of footages and movies in relation to samurai in youtube, I watched movies like “Blade of Immortal” “Zatoichi” and etc. I took those as reference mainly because I had to wear kimono to act out the samurai action scenes.
Q: In the drama, there are many scenes that you have to speak Japanese lines. How did you cope?
YYS: Before filming had started, I have been studying Japanese individually. I couldn't remember the lines well if I used hangul to remember the Japanese lines as I thought it was hard to speak naturally, so I used hiragana and wrote down its meaning to remember the lines. To prepare for filming, I practised the lines, did recording and listened to my recording numerous times. This was how I remembered the Japanese lines. Even on set, someone would check my intonation.
Q: Since you made so much effort in speaking the Japanese lines, are they any lines that impressed you most?
YYS: “Let’s go”. Because Dong Mae said it many times.
Q: Please tell us any memorable scenes and episodes
YYS: The memorable scene would be the beach scene that both Hina and I were in. That scene itself was greatand as the filming was in its climax, being able to go to the beach with staff sharing hardship and joy during the filming was more impressive than anything.
Q: In drama, you spoke Japanese to your ronin subordinates and they were also following you around. What did you guys talk on set?
YYS: We indeed have so many scenes. Because we played the scenes together, we got along well with one another. I got along well particularly with Yoon Ju Man and Kim Ri Woo. Before filming, we normally practiced our Japanese lines together.
Q: The scenes in which Dong Mae, Eugene and Hui Seong met in the Japanese bar were like touch-and-go, comical and yet impressive. Would that be ad-libs? The dialogues of the trio were important scenes, were those scenes elaborately arranged in advance?
YYS: In one of the Japanese bar scenes, Eugene bought Dongmae snibbles for drinks, Dongmae just took it as a chance and ordered a large serve of sashimi but Eugene immediately changed the order to a small serve. Also in another scene that because Hui Seong left the bar without paying, both Eugene and Dong Mae were trying to read each other’s mind to see who was going to pay, at the end Dong Mae stood up from his seat first and left. These are the scenes not originally written in the script. Also, these ad-libs were not discussed among three of us before filming, we just naturally made them up and played ad-libs while we were filming. We had so much fun filming that. We are also satisfied as audiences did enjoy those ad-lib scenes.
Q: Other than the scenes in the Japanese bar, there are other comical scenes but basically this drama has many serious scenes. What was the atmosphere on set?
YYS: Other than the bar scenes I just mentioned, we had so many ad-libs, filming was fun on set, we always had endless laughter there. Because we got along so well, we always spent great time when we met. Basically as I had to maintain the profound feelings of the character Dong Mae, I had to do so many preparations with Japanese lines and Japanese sword in one single scene. Therefore, I always filmed in midst of nervousness while doing preparations for the scenes.
Q: Please tell us your impression of co-stars Lee Byung Hun, Byun Yo Han, Kim Tae Ri and Kim Min Jung
YYS: Because Lee Byung Hun is a senior actor, I was really very nervous in the beginning. I thought it would be hard to approach him but he is really cheerful and friendly, he approached me first. He is a mood maker on set, really an interesting person. Kim Tae Ri is very bright and she brings positive energy. Because I was a fan of Kim Min Jung when I was a child, I am very honoured having acted with her and I am really pleased. Byun Yo Han has a mischievous image but actually he is bright and very serious, he is a thoughtful and considerate actor. When we met, we updated what we were up to and we also discussed worries about the characters.
Q: Other than the main cast, many veteran actors played supporting roles in this drama. By playing with them, did you get any influence?
YYS: As I just said, atmosphere on set was really good. Especially I have been respecting actor Kim Eui Sung since long time ago. This time, we played many scenes together in this drama and because we met so often on set, I learnt a lot from him this time and I got influenced by him.
Q: Around Gu Dong Mae, there are female characters of Kim Tae Ri who played Ae Shin and Kim Min Jung who played Kudo Hina, which one of these characters did catch your eye more?
YYS: Since Go Ae Shin is a very important person particularly in Dong Mae’s life, in Dong Mae’s thinking, it would definitely be Ae Shin because Ae Shin’s actions and words could influence him. He placed himself in danger and he couldn’t avoid it as Ae Shin was moving forward (t/n: her involvement with the Righteous Army). Rather than concerning Ae Shin’s moving forward, he was more concerned the importance of Ae Shin’s life. To overcome this, he pushed himself forward with strength and courage to protect her in his own unique way.
Q: Turbulent times are depicted as the background in this drama, we saw appearance of various characters from the king and to the characters in reality. Other than Gu Dong Mae, if there were another character you could play, which character would attract you most?
YYS: All the characters in this drama are attractive, I really want to play them all. If I have to choose one, I would choose Kudo Hina. You don’t know what she knows and what she doesn’t know. The charm of her character is like a mystery of the veil. It looks like she got everything but actually she has a deep wound in her heart, her character is very attractive. Her confident appearance coupling with wisdom really makes her look so cool.
Q: There are many action and sword fight scenes. What was the hardest part in filming these scenes?
YYS: The hardest part is to do everything in one scene. Overall, there are too many scenes that I had to simultaneously digest well with saying Japanese lines and sword fighting while delivering my emotions in one scene. I found it really hard.
Q: You were busy filming but did you watch the broadcast on TV? As an audience, please tell us any memorable scenes.
YYS: Because broadcast had started while we were still filming, I couldn’t watch live broadcast of the drama but I always watched the drama online afterwards. It is hard to select which scene is the most impressive because there are just too many great scenes.
Date: 28 Sep 2018
The rest of the interview is about his travel, his hobby, his monthly fan project since March this year and his upcoming fan meeting in Japan. Since this is a drama thread, I will skip the translation regarding these topics.
Note: The source of the interview is published in Japanese, above English translation possibly has slight differences in meaning from its original interview published in Korean. Please excuse my bad English.
This is my second post here. Only two more episodes left. I can’t wait to see its ending. I really enjoy watching this drama and thank you writer nim for writing such a great story showcasing these 5 unique characters who have their own individual charms, especially both female characters are so headstrong and brave, symbol of Korean women in new generation more than 100 years ago. Needless to say, watching the scenes of the trio in Japanese Bar was real fun. Just saw @charray posted stills of the bar scene on previous page. Will find out if the trio can still show us some more fun in their reunion after going through three years of hardship.