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[ENG TRANSL] Ahn Hyo Seop - Star Focus (2020) Interview

November 16, 2020

Disclaimer: Article is roughly translated. It may contain inaccuracies. Please pardon any mistakes.


Ahn Hyo Seop is an actor who grew step by step. Ever since his debut, he never took a break, and trained himself more firmly and steadily than anybody else. When he finally realized the meaning of acting, the public became aware of Ahn Hyo Seop’s worth. This timing isn’t a coincidence, but the fruits of his sincerity. We are at the moment of Ahn Hyo Seop’s wonderful leap right at the end of the run.

Point 1: Newly found romance

Ahn Hyo Seop delicately and realistically expressed the growth of his character Seo Woo Jin, a 2nd-year fellow GS doctor in SBS Dr. Romantic Season 2. Six months spent at Doldam Hospital was a time for not only Seo Woo Jin, but also Ahn Hyo Seop, to grow. Ahn Hyo Seop said, “I’m so grateful and honored to be a part of Dr. Romantic 2,” and added, “I myself, together with Woo Jin and the other characters, grew up together, and I was happy to share that experience to the viewers. I hope everyone who worked on the drama, and watched it will find their own romance.”

As it was a drama that awakened many people’s romance, Ahn Hyo Seop also realized a new meaning of romance. He said, “I’m usually realistic and rational, so I’m far from being a romantic. However, after Dr. Romantic 2 ended, I realized that when I’m faced with a certain problem, I don’t need to solve it only realistically, but I can also add a bit of sentimentality to it. In that regard, it was a work that brought up the word ‘romantic (sentimental)’ that I didn’t have before, and it allowed me to look at a situation from a different perspective.”

Ahn Hyo Seop’s role, Seo Woo Jin, is a newly added character in Season 2. Previously, Season 1 was greatly loved, so overcoming the expectations and pressure of the sequel was his biggest task. Ahn Hyo Seop said with gratitude, “I thought it was a given to be worried. As I was also a big fan of Season 1, I was greatly worried and pressured to fill in the spot. Since the director, writer, and even part of the cast are the same, I thought it was bound to be compared. It was a lot of pressure, but the director, staff, and actors continued to boost my confidence. I sincerely felt their trust in me, so I found confidence, and I was able to do well until the end.”

Point 2: Ahn Hyo Seop, and Seo Woo Jin

For Ahn Hyo Seop, it’s his first medical drama and his first role as a doctor. Due to the nature of the genre, there were many difficulties during the preparation process. Ahn Hyo Seop said that he first distinguished the doctor Seo Woo Jin, from the person Seo Woo Jin, and he built his character step by step. He said, “When I first received the script, I first imagined what environment Woo Jin grew up in. Since Woo Jin’s past wasn’t described in detail in the synopsis, I began by imagining his past one by one based on the setup. Woo Jin was a character with thick walls put up and maintains a line when dealing with people, so I imagined things that might’ve happened, and drew the character out. I worked hard on making it more concrete.”

He added, “I took a more professional approach after Woo Jin’s character became established. I’m a 2nd-year fellow doctor, and I heard it takes at least 12 years of studying to get to this position. But I have to prepare for it within 2 months, so I thought at first that it would be impossible. I thought I’d do my best in imitating instead.”

Ahn Hyo Seop burned with enthusiasm as he personally went to the hospital (to observe) and even bought raw meat to practice surgery. He said with a smile, “I went to the hospital with the director and other senior actors to ask permission to do an on-site survey. After learning how doctors usually spent their day, what kind of mentality they had, the basics of surgery, and frequently used terms, I practiced repeatedly. I also bought raw meat, (to practice) cutting and sewing. I’ve been doing it so many times, I think I’ve mastered surgery.”

Although he was very thorough with his preparation, there was a real hurdle to completing Seo Woo Jin. Ahn Hyo Seop said, “One other thing I worried about was the age gap. Actually, there’s a slight age gap between me and Woo Jin, so I didn’t quite have the presence of a doctor, and so I thought, ‘What if I looked like a child?’ So I referred to documentaries or videos and practiced what tone doctors use. I noticed their tone was characterized by calmness even in urgent situations. I paid attention to the details so I wouldn’t look as young as possible. They say you build up your body so when you put on a doctor’s gown, you’ll look like an adult. But later on, there was a big difference in body size with Lee Sung Kyung, so I took out my gown.”

Point 3: Han Suk Kyu and Lee Sung Kyung

“My acting life’s savior.” When asked about his teamwork with Han Suk Kyu, this is what he said without hesitation. He said, “I respect him a lot, and he is an admirable person. His attitude and seriousness when it comes to acting opened my eyes to the fun of acting. He gave me essential advice for every scene, waited for me, and led me. Perhaps he was reminded of the trial and error he experienced while watching my acting. He helped me a lot by giving me various tips. The most memorable thing was that he would do his best in acting even when the camera wasn’t on him. He did that from Episode 1 to 16. I realized once again how great of an actor he is. Even though he has much experience, he still had the passion to learn constantly. I thought I should follow his examples in those aspects.”

“Different personality, the best synergy.” He also met his love interest in the drama, Lee Sung Kyung, for the first time through Dr. Romantic 2. Ahn Hyo Seop confessed a behind-the-scenes story wherein the awkwardness he felt in the beginning because of (Sung Kyung’s) different personality, became a great help. He said, “Sung Kyung has a very bright and positive personality, whereas I’m less talkative and introverted than I thought. Should I say our characters are a bit different. So at first, we were awkward with each other, but I thought that our relationship would help our narrative (in the drama). I don’t think I forced myself to become close to her because the awkward atmosphere naturally formed even when I was acting. Although we naturally became close as we continued filming. Sung Kyung isn’t only energetic, but she’s like a considerate and responsible older sister. Thanks to her, I was able to film smoothly until the end.”

Point 4: The path he took

Ahn Hyo Seop debuted in 2015 through the tvN show Always Cantare Season 2. Afterward, he established his presence through Splash, Splash LOVE, One More Happy Ending, and Happy Home. Two years after his debut, he took in his first lead role in the drama My Father is Strange. Then, he slowly built up his filmography with Still 17 and Abyss. What memories remain for Ahn Hyo Seop, who has worked nonstop for 5 years? Also, what else did he realize through this drama?

“It really feels like I’ve been running nonstop. I feel like I grew each time I did a project. Looking back, I think it was a necessary process for me to be in this place. Of course, I have my regrets, but those regrets became my driving force. I’m usually hard on myself, but this time, I want to compliment myself a little bit. Through Dr. Romantic 2, I became brighter and optimistic. I thought I shouldn’t put myself down too much, but instead, I should compliment and encourage myself more for a job well done.”

It was a time for him to gain a positive and bright personality, and at the same time, gain confidence. He said candidly, “Should I say that I was able to find confidence while filming? To be exact, I asked myself, ‘Is it possible for me to gain some confidence now?’ I felt the importance of confidence in whatever I do, whether it’s acting, or having a conversation with someone. This is because I felt the difference in strength when I was sure of what I was saying or doing, compared to when I hesitated. I always hid my confidence under the pretense of humility, but at some point, it didn’t look good. I thought it was very cool when the senior actors, directors, and staff would speak up clearly on set. I thought that was what I should do so I can grow. Rather than being a special opportunity, I think it naturally occurred to me while I was filming. I had to act confidently in order to convey to the viewers effectively. What I want to say is, ‘I need to be sure of what I’m doing.’”

Point 5: What acting means

It was a remarkable growth. Those who knew Ahn Hyo Seop, and those who didn’t were all mesmerized by his acting skills. The results of his meticulous thinking and training were delivered through TV as is, and satisfactory results were presented to everyone. Regarding the reactions of the people around him, Ahn Hyo Seop said with a smile, “I’m thankful and proud that they liked it. But, I can’t admit it myself.” He added, “Since I felt I was lacking a lot while acting at first, I was dumbfounded. I want to compliment myself for finishing well until the end, but I’m never satisfied 100%. At first, I thought, ‘How can I?’ but now, I’ve decided to accept good evaluations. As much as they like (my acting), I can just improve. I’m currently getting good motivation.”

As he realized many things through this drama, we asked Ahn Hyo Seop what he thought of acting. Ahn Hyo Seop, who was lost in thought for quite awhile, answered carefully, “I think acting is one way of communicating. You can say a lot through acting. At work, I can experience all the things I don’t usually experience, and I can share the message to many viewers. Maybe I can say that acting acts as a communication channel. Apart from obvious meaning of communication, which is to ‘share opinions through words,’ I think there is also the sharing of emotions even if you don’t say anything. I think acting plays a role in expressing and connecting those feelings.”

“You’re asking if I want to take a break? I want to work as soon as my next project is decided. As long as there’s a nice project, I can do it anytime.”

“I’ve always played well-defined characters. In the future, I’d like to play a variety of roles. I’d also love to do roles that are more free-spirited. I’m ready to be broken any time and play a gangster or a psycho (laughs).”

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