Han Ki-ae: (reluctant to lift her head) Ah, okay.
Kim Tan: (looking Choi Yeong-doh in the eye, calmly) Mom, say hello to him. He is my friend.
It is a scene from the 9th episode of 'The Heirs'. Choi Yeong-doh(Kim Woo-bin) visited Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho)’s home without notice to provoke Kim Tan by reminding him that Kim Tan’s biological mother is not Jeong Mi-suk (Park Jun-keum) but Han Ki-ae (Kim Seong-ryeong).
Kim Tan said in a cold voice, “Come out before I kill you," and took Choi Yeong-doh out. What did Kim Tan do next? You should not forget that 'The Heirs' is a somewhat predictable romantic comedy on love and friendship of high school students.
Example ① He punched Choi Yeong-doh.
Example ② He drove Choi Yeong-doh away from his home.
Example ③ He calmly talked with Choi Yeong-doh.
The correct answer is ③. Kim Tan neither grab Choi Yeong-doh by the collar nor hit him in the face. He just looked at his eyes straightly. He appeared with a calm voice and firm eyes. It was not the image of a teenager usually seen in a romantic comedy.
The key point here is Lee Min-ho’s controlled acting. When an explosion of emotion was expected, Lee Min-ho suppressed his feelings. This is how Lee Min-ho interprets his character Kim Tan. He realized that Kim Tan is a character that has to be emotional. He concluded that he should not reveal emotions as they are for the other characters.
It is the beauty of control that Lee Min-ho wants to let people know on 'The Heirs'.
◆ "What Lee Min-ho hides. Hide your feelings"
Kim Tan is a character with many scars. He is an heir of a rich family, but a son from a mistress. His father is cold and his older brother despises him. His best friend turned his back on him after finding the secret. He is an 18-year-old boy who could not turn to anyone.
Lee Min-ho focused on this point. He focused on the character’s deep scars and set the personality that he does not talk about his inner feelings to others. That is why he chose controlled acting. He realized that suppressing emotions is the right way to express the character Kim Tan properly.
A source from Lee Min-ho’s agency 'Starhaus Entertainment’ said, "We paid attention to Kim Tan’s loneliness. Kim Tan of today came from Lee Min-ho’s analysis of the character. In fact, controlled acting is challenging, but Lee Min-ho is determined to express his character perfectly.
He is already receiving reviews that he has a high understanding of his character. A source from ‘The Heirs' said, "Lee Min-ho became one with his character. Other actors have been amazed by his acting.”
◆ "What Lee Min-ho tried. Focus on your eyes"
What drives controlled acting is the level of expression. Just hiding your feelings is not a controlled way of acting. You should use nonverbal and psychological methods such as eyes and fingertips instead of direct methods such as speaking lines. You need great concentration and energy.
Lee Min-ho is focused on acting with eyes most of the time. He properly expresses excitement, sorrow, anger, confusion, loneliness only with his eyes. He made sure that his eyes can show the emotional status of his character. That is why he has the nicknames such as 'Straw Eyes' or 'CG Eyes’.
Instead, he stuck to a dry voice. When he confessed his love or got angry or hurt, he calmly spoke his lines. He thought that the lines have too much energy, his acting could be too much.
A source from his agency said, "He is excellent at understanding his character and controlling feelings. He is showing the sensitive and controlled way of acting through the excellent analysis of his character. Particularly, he is appealing to viewers with his deep eyes in his own way.”
◆ "What Lee Min-ho wants. A win-win strategy”
Unfortunately, controlled acting accompanies a certain level of sacrifice. It is not easy to stand out. Moreover, if the counterpart character is strong, the character is likely to be outshone. In fact, Song Hye-kyo is the only actor who drew attention as controlled acting this year through the drama series ‘That Winter, the Wind Blows’.
Lee Min-ho is in a similar situation. His rival Kim Woo-bin’s character is absolutely strong. Kim Woo-bin’s acting has to be strong. He has powerful voice and eyes. Moreover, there are over nine characters who will be in confrontation with him in addition to Kim Woo-bin.
In fact, any actor would want to stand out in a drama especially when they appear with competitors. However, 'The Heirs' was an exception. He thought that the other characters had to stand out.
Lee Min-ho said, "I am aware that I received a review that my character is mediocre compared to the other characters. I am satisfied that the character Choi Yeong-doh shone. Except for Kim Tan, all characters are strong. It would not have worked if Kim Tan had been a strong character as well. Taking one step back is a way of letting the other characters shine and the drama be successful.”
Controlled acting improved Lee Min-ho. He proved that he can hide his emotions as well as explode them, which means that the spectrum of his acting has been wider. In addition, Lee Min-ho took one step closer to his goal this year.
"I have never attended an award ceremony together with other actors whom I worked with. I have always had regrets about it. I hope that the other actors can stand out even if I may be outshone. I hope to sit around the same table with the name tag 'The Heirs' with other actors at an award ceremony. It is my goal of this year.”
Written by Seo Bo-hyeon (Dispatch)
Photographed by Song Hyo-jin (Dispatch)
Photographs from Hwa & Dam Pictures