MBC’s Wednesday and Thursday drama “When a Man Falls in Love” was an eventful experience for actress Shin Se-gyeong who played the show’s main female character Seo Mi-do. She received harsh criticism for her acting and many wrote malicious comments about her on the Internet. But she was all smiles when she said that she believes in “fatalistic attraction.” It’s almost difficult to tell whether she is just that composed or indifferent. But you understand the moment that you realize the peculiar sense of balance you feel between those emotions is due to her positivity. Maybe this is why her personality, slightly different from her coy appearance, seems attractive? Shin’s solidness on the inside wrapped by her positivity and unexpectedness on the outside will probably serve her well.
Q. What a long journey the show has been for you. How does it feel to end “When a Man Falls in Love”?
Shin Se-gyeong: Extremely relieving. I didn’t read too many of the articles online but I heard about the response. And there was a time I was upset for a bit because the response was quite fierce but I forgot about it quickly (laughs). I think this drama helped me grow another level on the inside.
Q. I think it must’ve not been easy to ignore such response though because the ratings for the show weren’t that good either.
Shin: It would’ve helped a lot if the ratings were good. I do try not to be influenced by the response that comes from around me. Maybe it’s because I’m young but I remember my experiences based on the memory I have from working with people on set, not the results shown by numbers. Of course, I did have all sorts of thoughts when I first started getting criticized. I wondered, ‘Should I tone down my character?’ But I think I would’ve had a lot of regrets if I changed my character’s personality. I feel good about the fact that I did all I could although I got criticized.
Q. Isn’t it good to get lots of criticism if you’re playing an evil role? (laugh) Of course, not that your character Mi-do was necessarily an evil person.
Shin: Of course it’s better (laughs). One of the things I was drawn to the most about this drama was that I felt it could draw a variety of very different responses from viewers. That’s why I think it’s only natural that people sympathized with her in some ways but criticized her in other ways. The fact that she wasn’t all that perfect is what made her more human. And I think that’s how this drama differentiated itself from others.
Q. Like you said though, different viewers sympathized with different things so I think it must’ve made it difficult to play your character.
Shin: I never tried to make my character seem nice on purpose. Reality is complicated and Mi-do’s life was one of the many types of lives that exist in this world. What I paid the most attention to was calculating the intensity of feelings she has for each character since there were several she was involved with emotionally. Because her feelings for them came about in the beginning of the show, I figured everything would get messed up in the end if I didn’t start it right. So I wrote down the level her emotions were at in numbers. I started by writing them as whole numbers, such as 2, 3, 5 but I ended up going as far as 3.2 and 4.6 because the situations she was in and her emotions got increasingly complex (laughs). I had no choice but to because we didn’t shoot the drama in the order it went in but back and forth.
Q. But it seemed that the more the show headed to the end, the more it focused more on the inner growth Mi-do experienced, rather than depicting on her relationship with Tae-sang (Song Seung-heon) and Jae-hee (Yeon Woo-jin).
Shin: And that’s what I felt was most important. A lot of people may have looked forward to seeing more romance but I personally focused more on her inner growth.
Q. Then I don’t think it would have been easy to connect the story of her worldly desires that was in the beginning of the show, to the story of her inner growth that was in the latter half of the show.
Shin: Mi-do was a girl with a duplicity. She had materialistic desires, yet also wanted to just settle with reality when Tae-sang helps her. And she tried to pretend she was extremely rational but she occasionally experienced emotional turmoil. I knew this about her so I put in a lot of effort to prepare for the role. I wanted to do so well. And of course there were difficulties. She may have not lived an ordinary life but I tried to tell her story in my own way by regarding her life as the one of many that exist in this world. I tried to show that she didn’t readily accept the wave of emotions she feels but rather tried to look at them calmly. That’s why she never told either men that she loved them.
Q. Well, maybe it was because you expressed highly complex emotions through inner feelings but a lot of people said your acting was a bit dry.
Shin: I did feel sort of this pressure to not respond excessively to any situation because the emotions Mi-do felt went not in a single direction but many directions. And in that sense, viewers may have felt that my acting was dry. My character had ambiguous emotions to start with and knowing the incidents that would follow, it was difficult to pour forth the emotions. I know I didn’t show a wide range of emotions but I tried to express even the slightest changes she felt.
Q. It must’ve been really difficult to play your character. How was your chemistry with the two male actors?
Shin: It was great. The two of them had different styles of acting. My character’s relationship with Tae-sang was complicated but the emotions that Jae-hee felt were more complex so I think I spoke more with Yeon Woo-jin.
Q. If you were Mi-do, who would you have chosen?
Shin: Neither. I would’ve just chased my dreams (laughs).
Reporter. Kim Gwang Kuk email@example.com
Photographer. Gue Hye Jung firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor. Hong Ji You email@example.com