English translation of TOP's interview for L'Officiel Hommes November 2013 issue:
“Let's Talk At Home (In My Room)”
L’officiel Hommes (LH): So we’re interviewing you as an actor not a singer today. I heard that the film company prepared the movie having you as the main character in their minds.
Choi Seung Hyun: Yes. Thankfully… Actually there was a funny episode. I almost never even got to see the scenario of this movie. After my manager put it in my room, I always just looked at it from a distance and past by it and never really looked at it. The title of the scenario was called ‘Alumni’ and I was like “Is this a high-teen romance? Some high school melo drama?” and I just left it there. But about a month later, someone called me. He asked me if I read the scenario. That’s when I finally decided to flip the first page and start reading it.
LH: You don’t like getting roles that represent an idol star’s image?
Choi Seung Hyun: It’s not that I hate it but I wanted to do something more serious. Maybe that’s why I didn’t do as many movies. Besides, I’m the main character for this movie. It’s a happy thing but at the same time it’s a burdensome thing. 3 years ago when I filmed <IRIS>, it was not common for idols to actively participate in big scale dramas or movies like that. After first appearing on <I am Sam> in 2007, I realized that it’s already been 6 years from that. I decided that I should start showing different sides by acting in different movies or dramas one by one.
LH: If I look at your past works, you usually have a role with not many lines. You probably liked it since you didn’t have to memorize a lot. Are you good at memorizing lines?
Choi Seung Hyun: Thankfully I’m pretty good at memorizing lines. If I don’t understand the complete scenario, I can’t really act out the character well. I guess that’s a normal thing but when I start, I think by myself a lot and I keep organizing my thoughts continuously. More than anything else, when I get something new I have to stay be in a state of tension so I try to control my mind a little more.
LH: That reminds me of the movie <71: Into the Fire>. Honestly I wasn’t expecting much from it but you didn’t get discouraged by any of the other actors at all. But on one hand, it was doubtful because it was kind of like an expansion of the image of TOP from BIGBANG.
Choi Seung Hyun: (Nods) But this movie is different. When I looked at the scenario, the first thing that came in to my mind was ‘Wow, this is hard.’ But then I was like ‘If I do this well, it’ll be a very nice, sophisticated movie.’ The fact that I’m someone who came from North Korea and living as a south Korean high school student is already fictional enough. And I thought that if my emotions are too expressive it wouldn’t look sincere so I should control it. I always asked endless questions to myself like ‘Why would I do this? What is something that I have to understand from this?’
LH: Was there anyone special that helped you out during the preparation for this movie?
Choi Seung Hyun: I had so many that I can’t even choose one. Thankfully the director and all the senior actors kindly answered all my questions. But since it’s my work, I still had a lot of responsibilities. A movie has to move the audience’s heart. Depending on its result, you could get praised or slapped in the face by the audience.
LH: Now that I think about it, this is your first movie in 3 years.
Choi Seung Hyun: That’s right. Every time I filmed a movie, I also worked on an album too. It wasn’t decided but now I try to do at least something. I feel these responsibilities for my fans since I rarely ever have any solo promotions. I think about this a lot in my daily life and have a time for self-examination. It’s like a time I ask a question to myself and I answer it myself.
LH: Self-examination? Wow. I haven’t heard that word in a while.
Choi Seung Hyun: (Serious) I’m not kidding. I seriously think about myself and what I do everyday. Well, at least I try to. ‘Am I going in the right path?’ I ask myself. I might look like a mischievous boy or an arrogant rapper but I am actually dark inside. And Myung Hoon in the movie is also a dark, complicated character. He’s like a character who met an unexpected danger and who fell into a bottomless pit. It requires a much more varied inward dramatics. He could just look like the same killer as in IRIS, but this one is different in that it’s not in the image of TOP from BIGBANG.
LH: You must have put a lot of effort to become Myung Hoon.
Choi Seung Hyun: I wanted my dark sides that I never showed on stage to be seen on the screen. I wanted to look lonely even when I’m just standing. The best way to learn how to do that was to stay by myself. I didn’t meet anyone for about a year. I spent a lot of time by myself. I even told that to my company, YG. I don’t want to do any promotions so don’t plan any schedules. It must have been hard for the manager since he had to cancel all the requests for my appearance on TV shows and stuff.
LH: I guess you’re a fussy actor for your manager
Choi Seung Hyun: Probably. I do whatever I want to do and only do what I want to do not only in movies but as in BIGBANG as well. After the movie shooting ended and the final movie release date was announced, my younger members told me this. “Hyung, we’re going to go see just how great that movie is.” I didn’t know but apparently my members tried to stay away from me during tours to avoid conflicts. They said that they couldn’t even dare to talk to me because I looked so sensitive and sharp.
It didn’t take long for TOP to become Choi Seung Hyun and Choi Seung Hyun to become Myung Hoon. But the movie that started filming in the cold January weather ended in hot midsummer and he confessed that he spent his time hiding for a long time. At first it was his plan to focus more on the movie. Because he wanted to be seen as different from what the audience knows him as, BIGBANG. But even after the movie shooting ended, Myung Hoon was still there in him. Few months before the release of the movie, Choi Seung Hyun couldn’t do any promotions. He just lay in bed the whole day or drank at home by himself for 5 months. He says that he’s thankful for his company for understanding his situation. He was afraid that he might fall in a deep depression so he pulled himself outside of his house to meet people. Like that, he started pulling himself together and finally stood in the spotlight of now.
LH: Such a deep person and you started dancing as soon as you got here. You did that twice.
Choi Seung Hyun: I’m actually a really tender person (Laughs). Actually I’m really sensitive. Even before I became a celebrity and even when I was little, it was the same. I still wake up several times in my sleep. But I don’t oversleep either. Even when I don’t have any schedule, I still wake up at 10 in the morning.
LH: I can tell that you’re really shy.
Choi Seung Hyun: Even in TV shows or even in movies, there are so many people with a strong aurora. We call it ‘nerve war’ and I don’t like to be in that situation. I try to avoid it. Honestly I don’t want to waste my energy on something useless like that. I’m going to try to pour as much energy as I can in front of the camera or on stage. So these kinds of photoshoots and interviews make me shy. That’s why I just started dancing as soon as I entered the studio earlier. Haha.
LH: You’re 27 years old this year. Even a normal man at this age starts thinking seriously about reality, right?
Choi Seung Hyun: Hmm. Compared to earlier days, I try to enjoy my hobbies more. For example, I enjoy going to galleries or furniture stores. It significantly helps me to focus on something new. I guess I could say that it gives me inspiration.
LH: Don’t guys usually focus more on shoes or clothes? I remember you said that on your old interviews too. You being interested in furniture is kind of like looking at a whole house itself. Like that, did your view on the world widen?
Choi Seung Hyun: In a way, my job is like a clown. Being a singer or an actor is a job where you have to like commercialize yourself. I’m not the only one who exists and I have to turn myself into someone. When I think like that and look at tables and chairs at a department store, those artworks look different and I start to feel different. Because I can see that it’s an artwork that the designer poured his or her heart out, trying to make other people want it and to catch their eyes. I could also be a product made like that. When I have free time, I like to go to galleries or exhibitions by myself. So I meet people with lots of interests in interior design or furniture often. They’re usually a lot older than me but I don’t feel the age gap when we talk about those things. It’s actually really fun.
LH: Oh yeah, I heard that you helped a lot with the interior design for Taeyang’s house.
Choi Seung Hyun: Eyy, not really. I didn’t really do much. He picked it well himself. Like I said before, I do love furniture. I like architecture so I started reading books about it. Actually, I have a private warehouse other than my house. I collect bath supplies, furniture like chairs and tables and sculptures.
LH: Wow, really? Is that like your way of relieving stress?
Choi Seung Hyun: Yeah. I think I like everything that’s pretty. I guess I obsess over things that are beautiful. My body can rest while looking at something beautiful. When I was young, I really liked clothes. I bought a lot and I collected them. Now that I’m in my late 20s, my desires for clothes have decreased.
LH: I heard that your role model is Mark Ronson…
Choi Seung Hyun: No, I never said that he was my role model. NEVER. I wonder how that story came about? Who said that? How can I copy someone who is living in the same era as me? I don’t like that. That was just the popular style of Europe. Then would you say that everyone in England and France copied Ronson? I’d rather have David Bowie as my role model. Then I’ll admit it. Anyways, coming back to the question, I realized that it relieves my heart when I look at paintings or furniture in times of suffering. Even when I go on tours overseas, I took some time to visit art museums or galleries by myself. Right now I’m really into surrealism.
LH: Let me guess… Dali!
Choi Seung Hyun: Oh, that’s right! I actually have some furniture with a design motif from Dali’s work. I really like the crooked furniture of Gaudi as well. When I have collected enough stuff, I’m thinking about opening a little museum. Those things were something that I could not see when I was little. When I get old and when I can collect more things, I want to make a space where even little kids can see. Well, it’s just a wish for now.
The ‘Much older hyungs’ that Choi Seung Hyun talked about are Top stars that are at least 10 years older than him – Jung Woo Sung, Lee Jung Jae and Lee Byung Hun. They can talk all night with just one bottle of drink. He learns about acting and controlling from them. The one who also encouraged TOP to read the scenario was a CEO of a big film company. But he never mentioned them during the interview. He also has famous furniture from overseas and has unique stories for each of them. He could brag about them all but he’s very careful like that.
The interest Choi Seung Hyun has for furniture is not just a plain luxury of a rich idol. Nowadays he is making a chair inside his head. He makes a project and sketches it. He is carefully dreaming for that day when he can actually make it in to a real chair. We could see TOP laughing and joking when we started talking about his hobbies. Unexpectedly, before we talked about this, his lips were shaking. His legs were shaking too. He had a green apple in his hands and he stared at the wall as he talked. He’s such a charismatic, proud person on stage but he got so nervous for a little interview. It’s so surprising.
LH: You don’t like doing interviews like this? Should we rest for a little?
Choi Seung Hyun: I don’t hate it but I didn’t have many opportunities to do it. But I like how the interviewer is not a guy today. I like doing interviews with girls like today (Laughs). Isn’t it normal to like doing something with the opposite sex?
LH: Like what
Choi Seung Hyun: Hmm. Lately I’ve wanted to fall in love
LH: What happens if you love?
Choi Seung Hyun: I’ll get richer in emotions. Everything I do will go well since I would want to look cool in front of my girlfriend (Laughs).
LH: What was the stupidest question you’ve ever heard?
Choi Seung Hyun: “Which fan was your favorite?” and “Which fan was the most impressive?” Every fan is so precious to me so how can I say who I like more and who I like less? I said this before but I work with the responsibilities I feel for my fans. Those responsibilities motivate me. Hmm… This is the first time saying this here… I’m actually preparing a single album.
LH: Now you’re getting comfortable!
Choi Seung Hyun: I don’t really know the specific goals or the specific date for it yet. I feel sorry for my fans because of my rare activities. So yeah, that’s how I’ve been working on it.
LH: It’s an album made as a rapper TOP, right?
Choi Seung Hyun: Yeah. It’ll probably be nothing like the TOP you’ve seen before. I really want to make it the way I want it to be. I want to write songs too and give some opinions on producing. I want the music video concept to be extremely shocking as well. I told this to my manager and he said “It’ll be screwed if you do it the way you want.” and sighed. Haha. He said that my preferences are not very likable by the public. But if I knew that someone could do better on this movie, I wouldn’t have started it. I’m not trying to see how much the public likes my new single. I just want them to think like “Ah, he tried something new.” Or “Ah, he makes it different when he does it.” and that would be enough. I hope they can see the little details I tried to put in.
LH: Actor Choi Seung Hyun and Rapper TOP. Are they different?
Choi Seung Hyun: They’re both TOP. I don’t think there is a real Choi Seung Hyun
LH: You’re strict about that. Who is closer to the real Choi Seung Hyun?
Choi Seung Hyun: That doesn’t make sense either. There can’t be someone as Seung Hyun. I never have a place where I can show the plain Choi Seung Hyun. I have things I want to hide and I have things I have to hide. Starting to act was not my choice at first. I don’t want to lie and say that I got into acting because of my great passion. Unless you’re lucky to be in the circumstances to do whatever you want to do all the time, I think there are things in your life that you can do well at certain times. I want to act and do music as long as I can. I will probably stop when I feel like I don’t have the talent anymore. It’s not arrogance, but it’s like having more energy than others. I act normal and then when I go on stage, I enjoy and go crazy like I’m possessed. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy everything in life. There’s nothing that’s easy either. But I’ll have to explode again this time.
LH: You know what? You just made eye contact with me.
Choi Seung Hyun: (Grins) I was too shy.
LH: Okay. Now I’ll give you some time to define yourself. Describe yourself in one sentence.
Choi Seung Hyun: Ah, this should be good. “Hey, I’m someone who appeared after a long time.” It’s true. So it’s okay, right? When I was younger I used to introduce myself like “I’m that guy whose always drunk.” All my friends are really weird and I’m considered pretty normal when I’m with them. Oh yeah, I wasn’t saying that I was always drunk in my teenage years. Please make sure that you write it was my early twenties. Haha.
LH: Okay. Now stop getting more serious!
Source: L'Officiel Hommes via kmagazinelovers & Choiseunghyun.com, @BIGBANGGisVIP via bigbangupdates.