There are very few actresses in Korea I admire because of sheer talent. So many actresses get trapped in their “pretty woman” image. It makes it difficult to see them beyond their hotness. Ha Ji Won is one of the few exceptions.
Ha Ji Won is lucky to have been born with a great acting skill but is smart enough to hone it. She is lucky enough to have been born with some brain that allows her to deliver great interviews but is smart enough to use her wits in planning her career.
Below are 10 brilliant things that Ha Ji Won does that other actresses should do if they want to be as prolific as she is.
1. Character Immersion
Ha Ji Won never denied that even she feels uncomfortable on how much she can disappear into her role. She never denied that she falls in love with the character of his leading men (the character, not the actor) and it often leaves her broken hearted after the shooting because she loses the character that she is in love with.
After shooting Sector 7, she had to see a shrink because she couldn’t recover from the fate of her character in the movie. She found it hard to move and take on other roles because she was still immersed in her character in Sector 7. Although people will argue that this may not exactly be healthy, she feels it is necessary. She has once tried to detach and just do what is required. Her role in As One forced her to get into table tennis. She couldn’t do it well and ended up wanting to drop out from the project because she felt she was lying.
Other actors may not feel that such immersion is necessary for them but for Ha Ji Won, there is no holding back. When she does it, she does it all the way and that’s probably why all her performances are honest and sincere.
2. Balancing Out Her Transition to New Genre
Often, new actors would take on the first role offered to them. Getting a break in the entertainment industry is hard and it’s impractical to say no to any opportunity to get your foot in the door. The problem is that actors get very much identified with the first role offered to them. When they play a dumb bimbo, they are most likely going to be a dumb bimbo for the rest of their career.
When Ha Ji Won first emerged, she became known as Asia’s Horror Princess. With three hit horror movies that made waves in Asia, no one disputed the title… except Ha Ji Won.
In what seemed like an absolutely stupid move, she refused to take on any more horror movies… but it worked. She won many awards for Sex is Zero. She then quickly moved on to do a period movie, Damo. She became more prolific as an actress and directors started seeing her beyond her horror movies.
It is a move she had done several times in her career. However, there is a small tweak in her process. She is aware that it is a little harder for people to let go of an image they have come to love. So, she takes a little of her past characters to her new one, allowing the public to ease in to what she is becoming.
When she first delved into action, she didn’t treated her character as an ultra masculine I’m-so-tough-you-can’t-mess-with-me-or-I’ll-kick-your-nuts kind of woman. She took it easy. She was a woman who enjoyed her femininity but had a very strong disposition. As the public started getting more and more comfortable with her as an action star, she became bolder and bolder with her roles.
3. Playing Flawed Characters
Ha Ji Won played a cunning and manipulative woman in Memories of Bali who uses her body and the weaknesses of men for her to get what she wants.
Many Korean actresses make a career out being a damsel in distress, the perfect princess, beautiful and delicate. Ha Ji Won is very cunning in her choices, in a good way of course. She plays the leading lady roles, alright but her she’s always a flawed woman, damaged and, at times, downright evil. Her role in What Happened in Bali was deceivingly weak and deceivingly soft. She appeared to be a woman trapped between two men but a closer look at her character would reveal a manipulative person who uses people’s weaknesses so she can get what she wants.
However, she is wise in her treatment of the role. She knew that the whole show is on her shoulder and she won’t be able to pull millions of people to her side if she goes balls out irritating. She added dimensions to her character. She had that visible layer, the beautiful woman who can attract men, then there’s the struggling human being who fights through the shit that life threw to her and that tough tactician who is willing to use resources, dirty or otherwise, to get what she thinks she needs.
It makes her sympathetic but still prolific and she has never once lost the sympathy of the public.
4. Taking Acting Pieces
She makes it a point to take up projects that may not necessarily draw the box office but would showcase her acting and solidify her status as an actress and not just a celebrity. She gets projects that may not necessarily have commercial appeal but will be critically acclaimed. One of that is Closer To Heaven where she played an undertaker who fell in love with a dying man.
Closer To Heaven was obviously an art piece. It didn’t have the predictable highly emotional scenes. It was very calm and even Ha Ji Won’s portrayal of her character is very relaxed. Her sufferings are very subtle and outbursts are very internal.
It is that subtlety that allowed her to display just how good of an actress she really is. She managed to take the audience in, make them cry and fall hard with her emotions without having to kick and scream.
5. It’s in the Eyes
She is able to do all these because she has something many actress don’t, the ability to let her eyes do the talking. Many describe her eyes as sad but I think “expressive” is the more accurate term. There are very few actors in the whole world who can do it. They can literally stand in one corner and not move and still allow the audience to understand what they feel.
6. Adventurous but Not Stupid
How many actresses are there who resorted to taking their clothes off for a supposedly great movie that makes nudity necessary? They make themselves believe that after people see the movie, they will remember that story and not explicit sex scenes. There are certain movies that make nudity necessary but there are very few of those because there really is very very few story lines that would require explicit love scenes to be told.
Click here to read the review of Frozen Flower, a Korean movie famed for explicit love scenes.
Ha Ji Won is wise not to do it. She wanted to prove she can do out-of-the-box roles but she didn’t need to take off her clothes to do it. She demanded the same kind of respect afforded to royalty and she got it by proving that she can be noticed through her acting and keep her clothes on while do it.
7. Timing and Rhythm to Her Roles
She has never done the same role consecutive times. When she plays a leading lady in one project, she would go and do an action movie in the next. There is a certain rhythm to her roles. Like a perfect song, she is able to make the audience dance to the beat of her career. She goes slow in the right moment and fast in the perfect time. She gives the right amount of rest and belts it out when necessary.
8. Never the Typical Woman
Ha Ji Won didn’t think twice about playing a supporting character in the movie ‘Miracle of a Giving Fool’
It is highly dangerous to define what a typical woman is. Some will argue that a typical woman is soft and sensitive while others feel they are b!tch3s and cunning. Regardless of what it is, she doesn’t play either. She is never soft and sensitive exclusively or b!tch and cunning exclusively. She is able to stir her role to give it some dimension.
In Miracle of a Giving Fool, you’d think of her as an angsty talented pianist who seems lost in her stupidity. She’s beautiful, rich and talented but couldn’t bring herself to perform in public. You will either hate her for her stupidity or pity her for being unable to get over her fear… then she falls in love with the fool. She was able to demonstrate such a pure kind of love that she didn’t just manage to make the audience believe that a woman like her would indeed fall in love with a fool. She also makes everyone wish we would experience such a pure kind of love.
She proved how much she loves the fool with her gaze, a simple touch of her hand, the smile she unconsciously gives when she sees him and all the other little body language that only a woman truly in love will do. Then you see her beyond her angst and realize that, like many of us, she couldn’t truly love her profession until she learns what love is.
9. Reaches out to Production Staff and Co-Stars
She has always been reputed to be kind towards her co-stars and production staff. Despite being shy and reserved, she admits to pushing herself to reach out because she knows it is but common humanity to show her appreciation to the people who makes it possible for her to do what she does.
She feels extremely privilege to be able to do what she loves to do and earn from it. This makes working with her easy and inspires people to do their job better. In the end, she benefits from it too. An inspired production and creative team help create a top-notch project.
10. Relationship With Her Fans
She spends her birthdays with her fans. She goes out of her way to communicate with them directly. She embraces them like they are her old friends and accepts gifts they worked hard to give her. She is aware that being a celebrity affords her privileges that she doesn’t deserve and the least she can do is show her appreciation to the people who willingly give her those privileges. Her humility inspires loyalty.
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