With short hair and jeans instead of a suit, Daniel Henney looks relaxed and approachable. The man who in just two dramas — My Name is Kim Sam-soon and Spring Waltz — captured the hearts of millions of Korean women is now promoting his first feature film, Seducing Mr. Robin, which is released on Dec.7. The Chosun Ilbo spoke to the 28-year old.
Don’t you think that you are playing on women’s fantasies a little too much? In this movie, your character is a Harvard graduate and CEO of a foreign company.
“It’s a misunderstanding. Having read the screenplay, I thought he was such an ass. Too cold and stubborn. Later in the movie, a little human touch is added to the character, but the part is different than my previous roles, which were more warm-hearted.”
Your fans praise your gentleness and sweetness, best represented in your smile.
“Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, everybody has two sides: good and bad. I showed my true self through Henry in My Name is Kim Sam-soon, but I showed only my good side.”
What kind of guy is the rest of you?
“When I played basketball in college, I used to be a greedy player. I only thought about winning. I didn’t go so far as to take steroids, but I went on a protein diet to build up muscle, and got all the way up to 220 pounds (around 110 kg). When I was a high school student, I threw eggs at school buses for no reason. I was the captain of my basketball team, but I ended up getting a seven-game suspension. It was a time when I was full of dissatisfaction and greed.”
Born in the U.S. state of Michigan, Henney dreamed of playing in the NBA when he was a boy. He was talented enough to be scouted to the University of Illinois at Chicago. But he says the talent others envied was not enough to reach the “top level,” and he was at odds with the team’s coach, whom he accuses of prejudice against him — the sole player with Asian heritage — so he finally changed his course. After that, he worked as a model and took acting classes, and debuted in My Name is Kim Sam-soon where he became widely known.
An uncomfortable question. You said the coach at UIC had a racial bias. But don’t you think that the fact that you are of mixed race worked in your favor in Korea?
“First of all, I don’t think that being of mixed race helped me get cast in Kim Sam-soon. Actually, I didn’t learn about biases in Korea until well after I became famous. I’ve realized that even among people of mixed race, there is ‘class.’ But what’s clear is that Korea, unlike in the U.S., isn’t a country where racism is shown openly, and the younger generation has a more open mind than the older generation. I’m fretting about what kind of help I can be.”
Would it be rude if I ask whether your activities in Korea are a springboard for something else, like Hollywood?
A springboard? No way. The only good thing about working in Hollywood would be the fact that my parents could see the movies I’m in more easily. Whether it’s Hollywood or Korea isn’t important to me. The script, and what kind of a project it is, are what I consider most important. This work isn’t a stepping stone — it’s my life.
What virtues must women have to seduce Daniel Henney, rather than Mr. Robin?
First of all, a non-enhanced natural beauty. And what I like the most is the natural sound of laughter. Age changes appearance and body shape, but the laughter is unchanged when they turn 90, and even when they sit in a wheelchair.
That is some smooth talk. But, how should I put this, it sounds like a canned response.
(Blushes) Well, of course I can’t ignore the impression and feeling that I get from a woman when I meet her first.
This is an English translation of an interview with Daniel Henney that appeared in the print version of the Chosun Ilbo.
doozy: Daniel Henney sshi, I’m definitely looking forward to watching your new movie and I don’t care about the storyline, whether it’s good or not, etc. because really, I probably won’t notice and be nitpicky since my attention will be focused on you. (Although, I do hope that it won’t be grossly terrible that even your presence can’t even keep my attention.)
On another note, Harry Potter would like his spectacles back. And also, your hairstylist’s not happy because you’ve missed another appoinment.