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Veteran actor Lee Sung-min no longer eyeing old man roles

15:54 February 27, 2023

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- Lee Sung-min, a veteran Korean actor notably known for his old man roles in recent dramas and films, said Monday he wants to play different characters that fit his age for upcoming works to avoid being typecast.

The 53-year-old was in the spotlight for breathing life into the JTBC's hit drama "Reborn Rich," in which he played the charismatic chairman of a family-run conglomerate, modeled after Samsung Chairman Lee Byung-chul.

In the upcoming movie "Devil's Deal," Lee appears as the mysterious man Kwon Soon-tae, who pulls the strings behind the local election scene in the southeastern city of Busan in 1992.

The political drama explores the themes of power, corruption and betrayal behind an aspiring politician's rise to power, also starring Cho Jin-woong in the title role of Jeon Hae-woong.

Actor Lee Sung-min is seen in this photo provided by Plus M Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Although the characters in the drama and upcoming film are both rich and powerful, Lee stressed they should be viewed separately. "Devil's Deal" completed shooting in 2020, but its release has been delayed amid the pandemic and is set to hit local screens Wednesday.

"Sun-tae is a kingmaker behind the scenes. I wonder if the world may be operating through such powerful people without our knowledge," Lee said during a group media interview in Seoul. "To make him look mysterious, I did not try to connect with his own personal story or past."

Lee said although there was an interval between taking old man roles, delays in theatrical schedules, in the wake of the pandemic, made him look as if he had taken two similar roles in a row.

In the thriller movie "Remember," released in October, Lee wore special makeup to play an 80-something man with Alzheimer's who acts on his long-awaited plan to purge pro-Japanese collaborators.

In the Disney+ crime drama series "Shadow Detective," streamed in November, he stars as a veteran detective nearing his retirement who finds himself falsely accused of the murder of his colleague.

"In 'Shadow Detective,' I struggled with shooting a flashback scene 20 years ago. I had to raise the tone of my voice, set my posture straight and run faster," he said. "As I am in my mid-50s, I feel more comfortable when acting as characters in their 60s and 70s than those in their 30s and 40s."

A scene from the Korean political drama "Devil's Deal" is seen in this photo provided by Plus M Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

At the peak of his acting career with dark roles, he cautioned against being typecast and wished to perform more light-hearted characters in upcoming works.

"I want to show natural, comfortable roles. I think I need to change from now on," he said.

Looking back on his acting career in which he remained relatively unknown for many years, Lee now feels better about himself and tries to focus on what he can do well.

"I used to set the line between myself as an actor and an individual, but now I feel like the two are naturally becoming one," he said. "There is no right or wrong, no good or bad in the world of acting. That's just the way it is."


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