By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- Actor Kim Woo-bin is no stranger to the world of sci-fi action with his role in the 2022 film "Alienoid" but still found it difficult to realistically play his charismatic character in the dystopian Netflix series "Black Knight."
Based on Lee Yong-gyun's webtoon, "Black Knight" depicts an apocalyptic world where oxygen is scarce due to devastating air pollution and a brutal social hierarchy determines who has the access to resources for survival.
In the wasteland, the survival of humanity depends on deliverymen known as "Black Knights," who deliver parcels of oxygen and other necessities.
Kim plays a former refugee, identified as 5-8, who takes on this job and recruits others from the bottom ladder of society to help him overthrow the hierarchy, controlled by powerful Cheonmyeong Group.
Premiered Friday, the six-part series topped Netflix's weekly viewership chart for non-English TV shows released Wednesday.
Kim said Wednesday the dystopian world where people must wear masks for survival is a plausible setting as the mask mandate had been in place until recently in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When I read the script, I felt such things could really happen. It was interesting and intriguing. Each character was alive and I was especially curious about 5-8," Kim said during a group media interview.
The actor introduced his character as a "legendary" figure who fights against social injustice as he knows the sorrow of being born as a refugee in the starkly divided world.
"5-8 was abandoned just because he was born as a refugee. He has fury against the brutal world and schemes for ways to make a society where more people can live happily," he said.
Although the series marks his second appearance in the sci-fi action genre, the model-turned-actor said the genre remains challenging as it demands both his imaginative capabilities and close collaboration with the visual effects (VFX) team and stunt performers.
"There are differences between acting in realistic scenes and acting based on imagination. I had confidence in the sci-fi genre as I had to fly in the sky and shoot guns during 13 months of shooting for 'Alienoid,' but it was still difficult," he said. "Action scenes are always challenging. Each shot requires the collective effort of many people."
For smoking scenes, Kim tried to look real without smoking with the help of the VFX team due to health reasons. The 35-year-old was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2017 and returned to the big screen with "Alienoid" after a six-year respite.
"Although the director wanted to delete the smoking scene due to concerns over my health, I thought 5-8 goes well with smoking. So I performed smoking scenes without actually smoking after consulting with the CG (computer graphic) team," he said.
During years of break, Kim said he looked back on his acting career that began in 2011 and felt sorry for not caring for himself enough. Now, he knows the importance of balancing life and work.
"Following the experience, I feel so grateful about what I have now. I learned what's precious in my life and try to stay healthy and happy," he said.