K-actor Lee Je-hoon not afraid of piling on 20kg for roles, Latest TV News - The New Paper

K-actor Lee Je-hoon not afraid of piling on 20kg for roles

Throughout his 16-year career, South Korean actor Lee Je-hoon has played characters who are slim and fit.

But in the spirit of expanding his repertoire, he now wants to show a version of himself that is 10 or 20kg heavier.

In an interview on Friday, the 38-year-old told The Straits Times that he was “not afraid at all” of being portrayed as unglamorous on screen.

“That is a different way to portray (myself) and will expand my range as an actor. I am more than happy to take those opportunities if they come.”

When ST pointed out to him that he would have to eat a lot to play an overweight character, he laughed and said: “The whole process of preparing will be so much fun.”

Lee, who stars in K-drama Taxi Driver 2 which is streaming on Viu, was in town to attend two fan meetings on Saturday, where he is expected to serenade fans with his singing and play games with them.

He has always gone the extra mile. For example, to play an underground mixed martial arts fighter in the drama series Move To Heaven (2021), he trained at least six days a week for four months.

And to portray an independence activist who protested by refusing to eat in the movie Anarchist From Colony (2017), Lee reportedly drank only protein shakes during five weeks of the six-week filming period.

On the physical rigours he has had to endure for his craft, he said it was “necessary and essential”.

He added: “It helps me portray the characters better. The audience can tell if I put in the effort and go through that difficult process.”

Even so, he feels there is still room for growth. “I do not find myself perfect. I still think there is space to learn and I will try my best to meet the standard and improve,” he said.

In the second season of action thriller Taxi Driver, Lee reprises his role of Kim Do-gi, a special forces captain turned taxi driver for a company which offers a “revenge-call” service to its clients who have been wronged.

Expect fierce fights, car chases and plenty of intrigue. To execute the stunts on the show, Lee enrolled in an “action school”, where he trained with a martial arts team and built up his stamina.

Despite the challenges he faced to bringing his character to life, there were lighter moments during filming.

In one episode, he has to assume the persona of a country bumpkin to expose those who have been scamming the elderly – which ends up being his favourite alter ego.

He shared that the farmer character spoke a Korean dialect specific to a rural area. So he tracked down such dialect speakers, asked them to record themselves, listened to the recordings repeatedly to master the intonations. He even asked the na­tives for feedback.

“Playing him was very fun, especially since his personality was super friendly and approachable. I could keep things comical and not too serious.”

Taxi Driver 2 is available on Viu.

Lee Je Hoon “Vacation” Fan Meet In Singapore

Where: Stephen Riady Auditorium, NTUC Centre, 1 Marina Boulevard
When: Saturday, 2 and 6pm
Admission: $158 to $188 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

South Koreak-drama