There’s something about him that’s… captivating. Maybe it’s his mysterious smirk, those eyes, or the fact that he can kick some butts over at Queen Seonduk – the early days, before he becomes the “Hwarang” Bidam. Here’s a little something to read about the actor.
Kim Nam-gil has gone through an unpredictable career — from TV series “Be Strong Geum Soon” to film “No Regrets”, and then to drama “Goodbye Solo” and hopping back to films including “Portrait of Beauty” and “No Regrets”. He is now revealing his true colors as Bi-dam in hit MBC TV series “Queen Seon-duk”. 10Asia met with Kim to talk about his journey as the historical character.
[INTERVIEW] Actor Kim Nam Gil “Bidam” from Queen Seonduk (Part I)
10: What situation were you in when you were first asked to appear in “Queen Seon-deok”
Kim Nam-gil: The producers said they thought of me after seeing film “Portrait of a Beauty”. But I actually had been thinking of not taking on a historical drama for some time. I usually try to avoid taking on the same genre or similar characters from my previous works. And it’s also one of the easier ways to avoid facing controversy over my acting. (laugh) So I mulled over whether I should take on “Seon-duk” because it was a historical drama.
10: And how did you decide to go for it?
Kim : First, I met with the producers and heard about my character. I thought it was interesting how although Bi-dam actually existed, he had never properly been portrayed in drama or history itself. His character seemed to be quite spectacular, different from other characters and I would be able to make people imagine that he really did live his life the way he did, depending on how I acted his role. The directors explained that he would have a warrior-like feel from film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. And Bi-dam hasn’t carried any weapons in particular till now but he will start carrying around a spear with the motive from “Red Cliff”.
10: Are there any parts you discussed with scriptwriters Kim Young-hyun and Park Sang-yeon? Kim: They said they wanted to meet to talk so I met with them after receiving the script. They said that Bi-dam, unlike other characters who would be fully explained from the beginning of the story, would suddenly appear and make himself understood in just two episodes. So they told me a lot about how he lived his life, how he grew up and everything in general, but I increasingly thought he was like a character from comics. I had been wondering what sort of image he had but “Slam Dunk” came across my mind because I had read it sometime around then.
10: From the start of “Seon-duk”, it had been said that Bi-dam, played by Kim Nam-gil, will be the secret weapon to the drama and that Chun-chu, played by Yoo Seung-ho would be the ultimate weapon. Weren’t you under a lot of pressure because the public knew very little about your character and yourself as an actor?
Kim: Ah… I’ve kept wondering why people keep mentioning ’secret weapon’. (laugh) The writers had said we should keep information about Bi-dam as low-key as possible so they decided to cut the part where I appear as a child too. So before I went into shoot, I watched the drama at home too, laughing and crying over the scenes when they told me one day that I would go into shoot the following week. I was completely surprised. And I wanted to look for a hole to hide in after people started talking about me being the secret weapon again… (laugh) I was pressured a lot by those things but I feel more responsibility now and it helps to think that I cannot get by with doing just an okay job.
10: You made a very strong entrance to the drama.
Kim: The writers had written a strong scene for it but it was up to me and the producers to come up with how we could show it to the viewers. I wondered how I could leave a strong impression while not breaking the flow of the story despite my sudden appearance. That was when I was the most stressed and worried because I wouldn’t be able to catch on to the flow of the story if I couldn’t explain my character well enough in episodes 21 and 22.
10: Bi-dam is a character we have never seen in historical dramas and even in “Seon-duk”, his speech is quite modern compared to other characters.
Kim: That’s why in the beginning, I asked our writers if they hadn’t looked at comments the viewers had left on our website. I asked them if I was supposed to take the blame for it. (laugh) But after I heard that Bi-dam lived freely in the mountains and was not used to language they use in the palace, I thought it would be okay if I express myself well enough. And the story had been so serious till then so I didn’t want to make it even more serious than it already is. So although I knew I was taking a risk, I added some parts to liven up the drama when I could. I owe it to the producers for allowing me to act so comfortably. Producer Kim Keun-hong did too but producer Park Hong-kyun in particular has trust in the actors and leaves up a lot to them. They are the best!
10: Bi-dam is also a character who is complex on the inside. How did you approach this?
Kim: I decided that Bi-dam is a very innocent character. That’s how he doesn’t get swayed, he is happy to have a friend like Duk-man and will get excited over his own thoughts when everyone else is serious. Everyone will say something about that to him but for Bi-dam, the excitement of doing something with a friend for the first time is greater. However, from that point on, Bi-dam, who had been on a blank page, will gradually start to express that he wants something. Naturally, he inherited his nature and disposition from Mi-shil and King Jin-ji so it may seem like he inherited the bad side from Mi-shil, but he was actually a prince and wanted to achieve something great which was suppressed while being raised under Munno.