<DRACULA> Kim Junsu’s 100% Immersion
A man who couldn’t protect the woman he loved.
A man who chose the curse of immortality because he could not protect her.
A man who only found the location of his heart after meeting her again.
The person who played Dracula, the man who offered everything he had for love. That person is Kim Junsu.
The man who knows how to portray heartbreaking love on stage, that man.
“More than anyone, Dracula is an extraordinary being who possesses a burning heart”
What is the song that you kept humming while filming earlier?
Ah, it’s a song from <Dracula> called ‘Loving You Keeps Me Alive’. This was the first song from <Dracula> that I listened to, and because of this song, I wanted to do <Dracula>. Initially I liked it because of the melody but now it’s the lyrics that make me love this song. The lyrics are really heartbreaking.
What part of the lyrics do you like the most?
“You are the reason I live. The first love that made me alive.”
What was the reaction around you when it was announced you were cast in <Dracula>? You must’ve heard a lot of people saying you match the role well.
Yes. I heard that my casting is a great match from musical representatives. However, I was surprised at that reaction. Even when I did <Elizabeth>, there weren’t many people that thought I would fit a fantasy-like role. In fact, everyone was puzzled, and even my fans too. After playing Death, I think I’ve developed an image that matches well with fantasy-like characters. I’m thankful. I feel great that my acting was convincing to a certain standard.
How was rehearsal?
I’ve only worked with foreign directors for a few times up to now, but David Swan is the first director who positively considers the actors’ and actress’ opinions so much. Maybe because the actors and actresses on our team are originally veterans, I’m not sure. I also talked many times about the production with the director. To be honest, in the past, there weren’t many times when I would be asked ‘what do you think?” first, but this time I am always asked that question. Because of that, I was quite nervous but it was also interesting. Ah, we spent a lot of time on ‘table reading’ this time. We even talked about intricate details like tone to expression so the ‘table reading’ took about 15 days.
Table reading? Actually, I wanted to ask you this in our interview today. Are there any ways that you overcome circumstances when you can’t participate in rehearsals?
There is a stigma that idols don’t come to rehearsals much. Of course, there are idols who can’t attend rehearsals because of their busy schedules. There were times when I couldn’t attend… No. Aside from the first performance of <Mozart!> and <Elizabeth>, I was good at attending rehearsals. My company also knows the importance of musicals now, and do not take on extreme daily schedules. If I can’t rehearse to the point that I am confident in my acting, then I won’t do it no matter how good the musical is, because my company and I have our pride.
Dracula is a character that requires you to use your imagination. Especially, the premise that he waited 400 years for the woman he loves. How did you approach that?
Dracula is not someone who one can identify with normally, and because of that it was vague in the beginning. What did he feel considering he lived 400 years with an immortal life… I couldn’t imagine it well. However as we started rehearsing the scenes, the ‘feeling’ came to me. I’m the type that gets a better feel as I rehearse. ‘There aren’t many scenes that explain Dracula and Mina’s past, so how do I express convey their heartbreaking love?’ I was really bothered by this issue but as soon as I sang ‘Act 1, Line 10, all my worries were went away. That was the song I mentioned earlier, ‘Loving You Keeps Me Alive’. As soon as I sang, the feeling came to me. I sing ‘You are the reason I live, my first love that made me alive’ and even though I don’t do it intentionally, tears come falling down.
Since we’re talking about tears… Kim Junsu doesn’t really cry on stage. In <December>, I was surprised when Jiwook sings ‘Love That Was Painful Was Not Love’ in Act 1. I wondered how you could cry like that while singing.
At that time, I was greatly influenced by the music even with the scene. As soon as the music starts, I got teary and tears fell down. Without the music, I wouldn’t be able to cry like that. It was hard to sing with the effect of a chocking throat, but that is the magic of musicals. The emotions you feel while singing remain intact when you express them. When your emotions become stronger in the musical, your breathing becomes faster and even if your pronunciation gets messy, it’s tolerable because the feeling of the scene is conveyed. If you sing like that on a music program, then you just get labeled as someone who can’t sing. Singing on stage in musicals has become more interesting because of that.
Which character scared you the most in <Dracula>?
Nobody was scary, because I am a strong being. Van Helsing knows how to kill me, but mortals are no match for me (laugh). What scared me was not the mortals, but myself who desperately desired Mina. After meeting Mina, I become engulfed in the desire to murder and drink human blood. Ah, in our production, Dracula only drinks animal blood as he lives. Animal blood barely soothes the hunger, but he doesn’t drink human blood in order to avoid committing murder. However, he wants to stand in front of Mina as a young and handsome man so he starts drinking human blood again. Dracula who wants to keep Mina by his side, I had to make this Dracula into a monster. I was worried about this at first too. However, I (T/N: Junsu shifts to first person while talking about Dracula) ponder whether my choice out of love is for that woman. In the end, I decided that I have to die for this woman [to live]. ‘I love you, you that I love. For you, I will depart.” These are my last lines.
If Mina is transformed into a Dracula/vampire, you can still be together with the person he loves.
Of course I want to be with Mina forever. However, I know how it’s like to live like Dracula. I don’t want to inflict that same pain on the person I love. As long as I die, Mina can return to her regular life, so I chose to die. To be able to sacrifice himself, isn’t his love remarkable? More than anyone, Dracula is an extraordinary being who possess a burning heart. It would be great if the audience could feel that.
“I can’t complain if people don’t understand my heart”
Talking about the fact that Dracula starves in order to avoid murdering people, I think there are similarities between that and Kim Junsu’s life. In order to survive as a celebrity, here are times when you have to suppress your instincts.
It’s not easy living as a celebrity. There are many times you have to resist and overcome. Particularly, I know a bit about Dracula’s hunger. I am the type that puts on weight easily so after becoming a celebrity, I can’t eat the amount I want each meal aside from time to time when I say, “I should give myself a reward!” (laugh). Dating is also not easy, and it’s not easy to go outside. But these are just short words. There was a time when I thought I had to give up more than I gained by doing this line of work. However, no matter what kind of life one lives, there are things that are gained and lost. Now, I know what I enjoy and I’m thankful.
Dracula resists the urge to kill, but nobody understands his struggle so he feels even lonelier. This may be a leap of logic, but there probably aren’t many people who understand what Kim Junsu resists and the effort he makes in order to stand on stage.
People say that in accomplishing something, the process is more important than the result. However, I think that the result is more important than the process because my profession in particular emphasizes the result. My fans know the effort I put into my process but regular audiences who view me objectively judge me based on the result. That is indeed a bit tough. I do this work voluntarily, so I can’t complain when people don’t understand me. I think I strive for people’s recognition of my heart/efforts.
When have you thought, “I’ve become a musical actor”?
Because it’s so trivial, I’m not sure if people can feel the same and just say “What the? So trivial”, but when I dare to think that I’ve become a musical actor is when I freely practice my lines and singing in rehearsal. Having all the lights in the rehearsal room on and practicing in front of all the people watching, it’s more nerve-wracking than standing on the actual stage. It was tough to practice in front of everyone watching when the musical starts. I was a bit embarrassed. I was a bit envious of the actors and actresses who practiced like they were performing in a show, but I’ve come to do that too. It was like this in <December> as well, but while doing <Dracula>, I wasn’t embarrassed at all. Even my line where I say, “Welcome,” I was able to arrogantly pull it off with a brazen voice (laugh). I was able to carry out the production process of a musical actor, so I felt great about that.
Kim Junsu doesn’t seem like the type to keep things in the past on your mind, but while doing musicals, do you have a moment that you regret?
You’re right, I don’t regret things much. Before I make a choice, I think about it a lot. After making a decision, I try to think optimistically. Of course that doesn’t mean I only look at the positive side of everything.
When lyrics for <December> came out, I kept agonizing over it. The production I did before that was <Elizabeth> and <December> was a very ordinary story. What shall I say… It was like a musical stripped of many things. Also, it was different from my previous musicals as it had a lot of dialogue, so the burden was quite heavy. I called a nuna from the production team and asked, “What kind of blow will I get if I change my mind about taking on this musical?” I asked her to send me a message of objective, not subjective words. Not long after I hung up, a message came. She said that it would hurt the image that I’ve created by doing musicals for a long time… so I opened my script again. I said “Aish,” and then said “Fighting” to myself (everyone laughs).
However, I think it was great that I did <December>. My fear of dialogue vanished and I installed many ‘weapons’ in me.
While working as a reporter, I hear many behind-the-scene stories. Something that was memorable to me about Kim Junsu was that when you almost appeared as a supporting actor you said that it’s nice that the weight to be carried is lighter. I’m not sure if it was a joke, but after hearing that, I thought that Kim Junsu’s self-confidence is quite amazing. I wonder if you were saying, “What if the role is more or less? I am me, Kim Junsu.”
Hm. If there are roles A and B, and A’s role is bigger than B’s so I choose B! No, I don’t choose roles like that. I want to take on roles that have great songs and roles that I can show my heart. I don’t think the weight of the role is very important.
Is there a reason why you only do one or two productions per year?
Well, I don’t calculate it or anything. It’s just that I want to show the best side of me. It’s not like the sparkle will run out and disappear. I want to advance step by step for the next 10 and 20 years.