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[Herald Interview] Gang Dong-won says he’s ready to take on older roles

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Sept. 22, 2023 - 11:56

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Gang Dong-won (AA Group) Gang Dong-won (AA Group)

Dr. Cheon, the fake, comical exorcist Gang Dong-won portrays in the upcoming occult comedy flick “Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman,” has many similarities to the characters he played in 2009’s “Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard” and 2016’s “A Violent Prosecutor.”

“I did intend to set the tone of Dr. Cheon character to be somewhere in between Woo-chi and Chi-won -- at least in the first half of the story where Dr. Cheon’s cunning wits had to be shown,” Gang told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Thursday.

In “Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman,” director Kim Seong-sik’s debut occult comedy flick, Gang plays a comical and fraudulent exorcist. But when he meets his new client, You-kyung (Lee Som), who sees ghosts, he is given a mission to deal with a strong demon, Beom-cheon (Huh Joon-ho), who can possess a human body. Lee Dong-hwi and Kim Jong-su also star as Dr. Cheon’s trusted assistants.

Gang, whose comical acting has been well-received by the audience and has shown relatively good scores so far since the film's release, said he personally loves comedy flicks.

“I just like how comedy flicks are done in uplifting mood starting with the shooting. It feels less difficult and less serious,” said Gang. “Shooting the last few scenes of ‘Dr. Cheon’ was just hilarious and I couldn’t control my breath, laughing so hard,” he added.

“Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman” (CJENM) “Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman” (CJENM)

Now 42, Gang said he has started to see himself getting older on the screen.

“After watching the film, I thought that my face is now starting to show aging, like ahjussi,” he said.

“Now I feel I’m ready to take on characters in their 40s. Before, I thought I looked younger than my age, but now I like how my face looks at my age,” he added.

Gang is also known to do a lot of projects with first-time filmmakers. “Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman” is also director Kim Seong-sik’s theatrical debut film after working as an assistant director of Bong Joon-ho on “Parasite” and Park Chan-wook on “Decision to Leave.”

“Although my priority is fun, interesting scenario and clear message, I find working with debuting filmmakers more comfortable. Most of them are younger or at a similar age to me, which makes it feel more natural,” he said, adding that he decided to do “Dr. Cheon” after hearing about Kim, who enjoys a good reputation in the industry, with a long career as an assistant director.

Having set up his own agency in August, Gang said he is interested in production.

“If I find good actors or partners who share a similar vision, I’d like to work together (through my agency.) I feel like it was time to set up the agency and actively lead my future projects or paths,” Gang said, but he ruled out the possibility of directing.

Gang said he has many stories to tell in his 40s.

“Production is totally find with me. I can write a synopsis or work with a writer and pass it on,” said Gang, adding that he has until recently worked on a project involving golf but decided to drop it due to a timing issue.

“I heard that Ha Jung-woo is producing a film about golf. Actually, I know the writer (of that project) very well, we do a lot of brainstorming together,” he said.

“Dr. Cheon and the Lost Talisman” hits local theaters on Sept. 27.