Ahead of his public service in 2008, he had said, “I want to quickly enter service.” At that time, 30-year-old Kim Dongwan seemed to be exhausted from his 10+ years of being a celebrity. He longed for what seemed like a time when he could look at and give full attention to himself. Then two years passed by before we knew it, and as an eternal member of Shinhwa, the versatile Kim Dongwan is putting on the new clothes of a musical and getting ready to appear before us. What kind of change seeped into him before deciding to take on another kind of challenge? Let’s start Kim Dongwan’s first interview in which he talks about the musical stage.
Hedwig is the musical world’s triathlon?
Kim Dongwan doing a musical, let alone Hedwig, was surprising news for many reasons.
Because I’m a singer and an actor, I had the strange preconception that I should sing just on the stage and act where I could only show my acting, whether it was a drama or a movie. I didn’t want to do things that involved both at the same time. Of course, it was also because musicals are difficult.
In Hedwig’s case, I have wanted to try a homosexual role and it’s a really difficult and complex role. This production is kind of like the musical world’s triathlon. I thought, okay, if it’s this then I can torture myself a bit, and that’s why I decided to do it. When the offer came in, I debated over it for just two days and later on even vehemently requested that I wanted to do it.
Hedwig is by no means an ordinary role. It’s also difficult to just simply call her a transgender.
It’s really complicated. John Cameron Mitchell is a person who is extremely charming and complex. And so far, really great actors have done this musical. There’s also the original movie. I’m still getting to know what kind of character Hedwig is.
Have you seen a past performance?
I was interested, but I haven’t seen it once. When I started getting ready for the performance, I thought that that was such a relief. It meant that I wouldn’t copy somebody else. However, now I’m looking for all the videos. (laughs) I regret it, ah, I should’ve seen it…I don’t think it’s going to be easy.
Since it’s your first musical, it seems like excitement and anxiety would coexist.
I had always thought that my strong point was my self-confidence, but when dealing with a musical, that confidence was something reckless. The director said that acting is also a skill. That as much as you repeat it over and over, acting becomes like second skin, and that you need to become a master of that role because the probability that you will succeed by sense and being in a good mood becomes smaller. I think she’s right.
Singers and idols of course work hard, but there are many cases of popularity being obtained because of things like the energy you receive from the audience while onstage and also natural talents you can show. However, with musicals, if you don’t prepare everything from 1 to 100, it seems like it’s hard to even receive acknowledgement. Beyond popularity, everything will be disclosed.
Wouldn’t the various stages that you’ve stood on so far be of help?
I think the experiences of being a singer, doing dramas, and doing this and that were all to be able to do a musical. (laughs) All of my experiences are helping. In Hedwig’s case, it’s like you’re doing your own show. Since it’s a monodrama, you’re continuously conversing with the audience and seeing their reaction. In that sense, I think my experiences as an MC and a DJ are helping.
To transform into Hedwig, what kind of preparations are you making externally and internally? Rumor has it that you are “getting rid of your muscles.” (laughs)
The thing is, my muscles aren’t really shrinking. (laughs) I was exercising to get rid of them, but more formed. Since my body fat is decreasing, it’s become a body on which the muscles can be seen even better. (laughs) So we decided to go with losing as much weight in the face and making it up to look like a woman’s, while having a muscular body.
I briefly learned hand gestures from Harisu and went to transgender bars to get advice. But isn’t Hedwig not a complete transgender? As I went, I slightly sensed that kind of different aspect.