”Who would have thought that a minor part as a lead character’s younger self (in 2003’s Oldboy) would lead to an accoladed career spanning almost two decades, 21 films and 16 television series, not to mention a healthy splattering of music videos and theatrical productions? If there’s one thing that can be said about boyish South Korean actor Yoo Yeon-seok, it’s that he’s a hard-working man who is intensely dedicated to his craft— with a seemingly longer day than the rest of us mere mortals.
Even more exciting is the fact that this year sees the popular 36-year-old thespian in a project that many South Korean actors can only dream about: He plays the male lead in Matin Calme, an international film directed by acclaimed French director Denis Dercourt, alongside actress Olga Kurylenko—better known to moviegoers as the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace (2008).
It’s a glorious far cry from his humble start in the industry and if all goes well with this detective thriller (in which he plays a Korean detective who teams up with Kurylenko’s French forensic professor character), one could say that Yoo is at the cusp of a new era in his acting career—and it’s about time too. Yoo has more than paid his dues with an extensive portfolio across mediums, and he has to show for it numerous awards from industry ceremonies such as the MBC Drama Awards, the SBS Drama Awards, the Korea Film Actor’s Association Awards and the Asia Artist Awards.
Yet, as the actor tells it, it hasn’t always been the bed of roses that it is for him today. Looking back at his 18-year career, he recounts having to persevere through adversities, never giving up on his dream and, more recently, educating his French co-star on the intricacies of luxury seaweed from South Korea.
Matin Calme is a Hollywood movie filmed in South Korea by a French director. Tell us more about it.
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