SBS’s You’re Beautiful showed off its Ilsan, Kyunggi-do, filming location on the afternoon of October 13 for an open set day. The cast showed some behind-the-scenes activities (and new hairstyles!) and gave interviews with the media, who were on hand to watch some new scenes being shot.
If you’ve been watching the drama (or just following along with the developments), you’ll know that A.N.JELL is the drama’s fictional idol group, led by Jang Geun-seok and also consisting of Park Shin-hye, Lee Hong-ki, and Jung Yong-hwa. In these scenes, A.N.JELL appears on a television variety program (as so many of kpop’s real idols do) and participate in some silly games.
Jang Geun-seok explained, “As the eldest, I feel a big sense of responsibility.” Naturally, the cast and crew are aware of potential competition coming from new rival drama IRIS, which is to premiere tomorrow. Jang said, “I’m not really worried about the competition, but I do make an effort to keep the atmosphere on set pleasant.” He therefore cracks a lot of jokes to maintain an upbeat mood. He also said, “Since Iris is a different genre, I think it has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s true that I’m a little nervous, but I’m not fixating on Iris.” He joked that he would watch You’re Beautiful during its first run, and catch Iris in reruns.
Q: What is the plot of today’s shoot?
Jang Geun-seok: “It’s the old debut performance for A.N.JELL. Mi-nam takes a look at old A.N.JELL material and says, ‘Tae-kyung hyung is the most handsome,’ and when Tae-kyung hears that, that leads to him changing his hairstyle. I don’t know if that’s to show the beginning of falling in love, or if it’s because the writers didn’t like his current hairstyle. [Laughs]”
How do you feel about Episodes 1 and 2, which aired last week?
Park Shin-hye: “I felt very good that there were many positive responses. You’re Beautiful is in a newish style, so as I expected, there were responses that it didn’t quite work as well as those that thought it was fun. But as Episode 2 aired, I think many people were more receptive. At first, there were comments that I was too feminine for a girl dressing as a boy, but the way I see it, in MBC’s Coffee Prince and SBS’s Painter of the Wind, the female characters played by Yoon Eun-hye and Moon Geun-young had laid-back, easygoing personalities even when they were playing women. However, Mi-nyeo is originally very girlish so if she were to become too boyish when dressing as a male, her character would disappear. I consulted with the director and the writers, and we decided to keep Mi-nyeo’s personality as it was.”
Mi-nyeo has an interesting, particular way of talking. It could come off awkward, but it’s very unique and the more you watch, the more it suits her. How did that come about?
Park Shin-hye: “Usually when women copy men’s way of speaking, they say things like, ‘Uh, yeah, so?’ while Mi-nyo’s way of speaking is to say, ‘That is so. Yes, I do believe so.’ It’s unique and I wanted to give it a refreshing feel. It’s like when I talked on the phone with my brother when he came out on leave from army service and he spoke differently, ending sentences with ‘–subnikka?’ and ‘–subnida’ [honorific suffix]. I spoke with the writers about that and they wrote it in, which I think is working well. At first, there were some people who were opposed and said not to write weird dialogue, but I think it’s catching on. It’s even a trend on set for the crew members to talk to each other like my character, saying, ‘Is that so? I do not know of that!’ [그랬습니까? 저는 그런 거 모릅니다]”
Lee Hong-ki: “My younger sister told me that Shin-hye’s way of talking is already very popular at her school. Also popular is Geun-seok hyung’s hairstyle, and the accessories that I wear in the drama. Today I went online to buy some clothes and there were searches for ‘Lee Hong-ki style’ that brought up accessories in the exact same design. [Laughs]”
It seems like Jang Geun-seok put a lot of thought into his style and appearance. In particular, his hairstyle with the extreme part.
Jang Geun-seok: “I’m still lacking in my acting even when I delve into the script and devote myself to it, so it’s beyond me to think of all those things. I trust in the stylist and experts for that. In the beginning, there were a lot of reactions to my hairstyle, but to be honest we lacked preparation before the broadcast began, so I needed something to trust in and go with for my character. People said, ‘Jang Geun-seok looks best like a “pretty boy,” so why isn’t he doing that now?’ but it’s not that I don’t know that. But I think that if I want my acting to be engaging, I need some sense of connection to the character even if it’s a bit awkward. In any case, the other three are very idol-like and stand out, so it’s okay.”
You’re the eldest of the group — how do you lead on set?
Jang Geun-seok: “I’ve always been the youngest. I learned a lot from watching [Kang] Ji-hwan hyung on Hong Gil Dong and [Kim] Myung-min hyung on Beethoven Virus. This is the first time I’m the oldest, and the most important thing is that the teamwork within A.N.JELL has to be good. Usually, even if I’m loosened up, when I get to the film set I think it’s important to bring tension, as the director requests of me. Not long ago, I said in an interview, ‘I learned a lot watching Ji-hwan hyung acting as a leader,’ and he sent me a text message after seeing that. ‘How funny — you listened to me the least!’ [Laughs]”
I hear you’ve been practicing your sneering smile and other expressions in the mirror. How does it feel to see yourself with those expressions?
Jang Geun-seok: “It’s fun to review my acting. Hwang Tae-kyung is very forward and swift, and on top of that he’s sensitive and a neat freak. But even so, there’s a small opening [leading to his inner self] — I want to show the part inside that, and I think that’s how people will see Tae-kyung, too. That’s why it’s a lot of fun seeing that sneer on my face or other expressions I don’t normally use. Starting this week, Tae-kyung shows a particular way of pursing his lips that I got from referencing Meryl Streep’s editor character in The Devil Wears Prada, which she uses whenever she’s displeased about something.”
From here on, how will you show Hwang Tae-kyung’s appeal as a character?
Jang Geun-seok: “His appeal is the opening despite the edge? [Laughs] He may be a perfectionist and a neat freak, but it’s important to make people realize in the end, ‘He’s human too.’ Actually, the drama is pretty tight — the script’s pace is quick like a manhwa and there’s a variety of shots. I have faith in the skills of the director and writers.
Jung Yong-hwa has already earned a good reaction and a nickname as ‘Towel Guy.’ Does your popularity seem real to you?
Jung Yong-hwa: “To be honest, I’m always at the filming location, so I can’t feel it that strongly. Sometimes when I have some time, I type in my name in the search engine and take a look. In Episodes 1 and 2, I filmed truly not knowing anything, so I’m thankful that people responded positively. Every scene is so difficult to act, but my sunbaes look after me a lot and explain things well.”
Park Shin-hye: “I’ve been bombarded with friends calling immediately after the broadcast finished, asking me about Yong-hwa. They ask who he is, say he’s good-looking, that he makes their hearts pound. So when I ask, ‘How did I come across?’ they all say that doesn’t matter! [Laughs]”
Who do you like better, the members of your group CN Blue or your A.N.JELL members?
Jung Yong-hwa: “They’re both in my heart. [Laughs] When I’m with A.N.JELL, I think of my [CN Blue] bandmates, and when I’m with them, I think of A.N.JELL.”
(Side note: Diplomatic answer to a stupid question!)
Shin-woo found out in Episode 2 that Mi-nam is a girl, so what happens now?
Jung Yong-hwa: “At first, Shin-woo was cold and only smiled out of greeting, but after finding out the truth that Mi-nam is a girl and why she cross-dressed, he looks after her. I try to come up with ways to express that, and work with Shin-hye to play off each other. In my opinion, Shin-woo has experienced a painful love once in his past. And so he deals with that pain and sometimes avoids people, but the more he sees Mi-nam, he feels that hurt easing. When Mi-nam is around, he feels brighter and really wants to cherish her.”
Jang Geun-seok: “Actually, he’s a character that women will like better than mine.”
On the other hand, Jeremy is more thickheaded than his teammates and still doesn’t know the truth about Mi-nam. How are you in real life?
Lee Hong-ki: “I’m a bit thickheaded in real life too. I don’t really know what’s going on. [Laughs] I’ll zone out alone even when I have to report to my manager hyungs later. But when it’s good news, I catch on quickly.”
You look a lot thinner now than at the beginning of the drama.
Lee Hong-ki: “At the time of the script reading, the director gave me the task to ‘build up my body quickly.’ Jeremy is a very bright, child-like character, but when he takes off his shirt he has to come across as a man, so I lost about 6 or 7 kg. The drama takes place in autumn and winter, but the director has Jeremy wearing tank tops, whether it’s at clubs or rehearsals. So the film set is like a gym to me. [Laughs]”
Park Shin-hye: “He really doesn’t rest and is always working out. The videos of him online are for real. I end up doing ab workouts with him too.”
Before debuting with FT Island, you were a child actor. How’s the reaction to you acting as an adult in You’re Beautiful?
Lee Hong-gi: “After the first episode aired, everyone cringed a bit. But the next day, they grew used to my character and responded well. The FT Island members usually point out each other’s flaws, but this time they gave me a lot of praise. The drama is very entertaining and they don’t cringe now; they say he’s like me. [Laughs]”
The last scene of Episode 1 was a lot of fun, when Mi-nam falls from the bench, the other members try to catch her, and she ends up colliding lips with Tae-kyung. What are some fun stories from filming?
Park Shin-hye: “My body was held up with wires, but I couldn’t keep my body stiff so they were all supporting me, and they raised such a fuss that their arms hurt.”
Lee Hong-ki: “There’s the scene where Shin-hye throws up and it gets on hyung’s mouth. Shooting that was so funny.”
Park Shin-hye: “It was a mixture of Yoplait and vegetable porridge… I had a hard time because the sound I made when gagging was so funny. But then, maybe Hong-ki sshi was thinking too lovingly of Geun-seok oppa, because he shoved me off his body while shouting, ‘Tae-kyung hyung!’ and used so much force that the other half of my body went flying. Even though I’m a girl. [Laughs]”
Lee Hong-ki: “Haha. It’s only because I was so focused on acting.”
Which of your three male teammates is closest to your ideal type?
Park Shin-hye: “All three look after me really well, but nobody is exactly my type. I just enjoy being stuck among such good-looking guys. If I had to choose among the characters, it would be Shin-woo. I think a lot of women would agree. But Tae-kyung is too… [Laughs] I don’t think I’d be able to take Tae-kyung’s prickliness.”
Lee Hong-ki: “Truthfully, Tae-kyung’s character is hard to put up with even among guys… [To Jang Geun-seok, looking from a distance] Not you hyung, your character! [Laughs]”
KBS’s IRIS begins airing this week, kicking off the real ratings battle. How are you preparing for that?
Park Shin-hye: “Both dramas are so different in genre and characters, so I can’t say much to the viewers about choosing, but our drama is about youthful ambition and energy. There are lots of bits with Mi-nam and Tae-kyung bickering back and forth, Shin-woo’s jealousy, Jeremy’s misunderstandings, and more. Like we said at the production press conference, we are an exuberant drama, and even if we’re trampled on, we get right back up. [Laughs] These days, when I happen to walk down the streets and see the faces of others, hardly anyone is smiling. In the past, whenever I watched the sitcoms of director Kim Byung-wook or the dramas of the Hong Sisters writers, when thinking of them later I would automatically smile. In a similar way, I’d like to make a drama where people will smile just to think, ‘Oh, You’re Beautiful is on today!’”