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(Yonhap Interview) Veteran actor Lee Jung-jae recreates villain character in 'Evil'

17:07 July 30, 2020

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- When prolific actor Lee Jung-jae takes the role of a villain, his movies have often become box office hits -- the caper film "The Thieves" (2012), the crime opera "New World" (2013), the historical film "The Face Leader" (2013) and the espionage action film "Assassination" (2015).

In the upcoming action thriller "Deliver Us From Evil," directed by Hong Won-chan, Lee plays a rabid, unsympathetic killer, named Ray. He pursues the death of assassin In-nam, played by Hwang Jung-min, after his brother's death.

"My previous bad-guy characters have definitely had violent and cruel ideas, but they don't express them outright," Lee said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Thursday. "So I had to focus on presenting their inner brutality rather than revealing such disposition through their conduct or attitude."

A scene from "Deliver Us From Evil" by CJ Entertainment (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In "The Face Leader," he portrayed Grand Prince Suyang during the 1392-1910 Joseon Dynasty, who yearns to become the king but conceals his desire until he takes the throne through a coup. Lee was awarded best supporting actor at the 2013 Blue Dragon Awards for his performance in the film.

But Ray is different from those roles, he said. Ray's every action and gesture shows that he is radically furious and wild, longing to kill In-nam, while there is no clear scene that explains his thoughts, intentions and his past.

"This time, I wanted to play a role that is apparently fierce and aggressive, as I've done many characters whose violence is hidden inside," he said. "So I made efforts to make Ray look more vicious and cruel even while doing nothing but frowning."

Ray's props and costumes in the film were elaborately sorted out by Lee to show his flat-out indecency and atrocity in a more eye-catching way. Ray first appears on screen wearing a white long coat at his brother's funeral, and he starts to run after In-nam.

"As a callous, tenacious killer, he would not have dressed in black for a funeral. He doesn't care about it," he said. "Because of his brother's death, he finds out a reason to hunt a murderer and pursue him."

Even during break times, Lee said he kept seeking details and gestures to present Ray's image in a creepier and more gruesome way.

Actor Lee Jung-jae, in this photo provided by CJ Entertainment (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Partly thanks to such intense efforts and dedication in creating his cinematic characters, Lee, 47, is preparing to make his directorial debut in the near future.

"I've written a scenario for the past eight or nine years and participated in a project to develop it," said the go-getting actor. "And the screenplay is now ready for production, and I decided to try it."

The espionage action film, tentatively titled "Hunt," is in pre-production and is expected to be shot next year.

A scene from "Deliver Us From Evil" by CJ Entertainment (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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