IN CONVERSATION WITH MINYEONG CHOI
Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari & Jana Letonja
Korean actor Minyeong Choi will soon be a household name thanks to his performance in the highly anticipated Netflix production ‘XO, Kitty’, a companion series to the ‘To All The Boys’ film franchise. Known for his roles in numerous Korean projects, such as ‘Twenty-Five Twenty-One’ and ‘Itaewon Class’, Minyeong is making his debut in an American series. ‘XO, Kitty’ is premiering today.
You are an uprising young actor, widely known for having played in numerous beloved Korean-produced projects like ‘Twenty-Five Twenty-One’ and ‘Itaewon Class’. How did you react when you found out you got the role of Dae in ‘XO, Kitty’?
Obviously, I was so excited and grateful. But at the same time, I instantly started to think about what I should do to prepare for the role. I didn’t expect to get the part because it was my first time acting in English and it was my first time auditioning for a project that wasn’t Korean.
How did you prepare for your first lead role in a US-produced series?
Unlike my other projects, reading the script was not the first step in my preparation process. I tried my best to understand the culture first in order to have a deeper understanding of the characters and the story. I spent a lot of time thinking about Dae and about what he would think or what he would be like. I also connected with the cast a lot and that dynamic in real life really helped with the dynamic on screen.
You became the youngest Korean actor to break out in the US. Was there a major difference between working on Korean and American projects? How did your experience on ‘XO, Kitty’ differ from your previous work?
One of the biggest and most interesting differences was that US productions have different directors for different blocks. However, in Korea usually one or two directors direct the whole series.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
Finding the fine line between giving Dae some of my aspects and creating some of his own.
The ten-episode story follows Kitty who traveled halfway across the world to reunite with her long-distance boyfriend Dae, who you are portraying. How did you create the dynamic between the two characters on set?
Anna and I spent a lot of time talking about the script and about life in general as well. Like with all of the other cast members, we became real friends and that’s something you can clearly see on the screen too.
Was there a scene in ‘XO, Kitty’ that you found particularly difficult to shoot?
The last scene with Kitty at the airport. Dae is a character who I’ve connected with the most emotionally throughout my acting career. Particularly with this scene, I felt all the sentiments he experienced, especially the sadness he felt knowing the only way to express his love for Kitty would be to let her go. Initially, when I was reading the script, I never saw Dae crying at that moment and I didn’t want him to because it would ultimately make Kitty cry. But when filming, I found myself holding back tears. I felt everything Dae was going through and I found it difficult to separate my own emotions from his.
How did you identify with your character, Dae?
Dae and I have many similar characteristics, so it wasn’t too hard to identify with him. The Dae I tried to portray was not someone who was the most charming, attractive or the stereotypical ‘Homecoming King’. He is an emotional and sincere guy, and what I love about him is his warm heart. He knows how important love is. That was the main idea about the character for me. He knew how important love is, so he could give up things for love. Not just with Kitty, but love for his younger sister, his family, his friends and maybe himself. For parts of his character that are not like me, the things in the show I personally haven’t experienced, such as his mom’s early death, Bora and so on, I tried to find reasons for his actions so I could best connect with the character.
What advice would you give to Korean actors who want to work in the American film industry?
Just give it a try. That’s all we need to do.
What was your reaction when you saw that the show ranked #1 on Netflix?
Even though I didn’t set this result as a goal while filming, it really is a meaningful reaction for me and I’m so happy that people liked our show as much as I did.
Can you share with us a scene or moment from the series that particularly stood out to you?
There’s a ‘grand gesture scene’ with Kitty in Episode 8. I loved the scene because I feel like that showed a lot about Dae as himself and about their relationship as well.
Are there any future projects you are currently working on that you can share with us?
I am in an independent movie called ‘Dream Palace’, which is coming out in Korea.
Photography SARAM ENTERTAINMENT