Nam Joo-hyuk on Netflix series The School Nurse Files, why he loves flawed characters and is a romantic at heart
- South Korean actor Nam has had a busy year, with roles in Netflix’s The School Nurse Files, tvN series Start-Up and romance movie Josee
- He is attracted to playing complex characters that are far from perfect, and will always give ‘100 per cent to the person I love’
By Kwak Yeon-soo
“I always keep in mind that ‘If you don’t do anything, nothing will happen.’ I don’t want my 20s to be wasted, so that’s why I've worked really hard so far,” he said in an interview with The Korea Times via Google Meet.
Asked if he was suffering from burnout, he said: “It wasn’t my intention, but my works got released one after another, making it feel more like I've worked like an ox this year. I haven’t burned out, but I'm glad that I can finally take a break and reflect on the moments that made me grow as an actor.”
Nam revealed that when choosing a role, he prefers flawed characters who try to be a better person. In The School Nurse Files, he played Chinese teacher Hong In-pyo, who accidentally releases monster-like creatures known as “jellies” and puts the student body in danger.
In Start-Up, he played software engineer Nam Do-san, who is a genius at his work but lacks the ability to read social cues and has no interest in social interactions. In Josee, he plays college student Young-seok, who falls in love with a girl in a wheelchair but fails to keep his relationship.
“I think I’m attracted to characters that are complex or possess certain flaws. I think everyone can relate to a flawed character. If a character is too perfect, it seems inauthentic,” he said.
As for any similarities with Young-seok’s character in Josee, Nam added: “We’re both in our 20s. Maybe, feeling anxious and living fiercely?”
Nam said he tends to be hard on himself although he tries his best in every role he plays. “I always feel like I’m not performing well and I can do better,” he said. “But one thing I know for sure is that I have the strength to continue acting and exploring diverse roles.”
A remake of the 2003 Japanese film Josee, The Tiger and the Fish, the romance drama is a profoundly sad and moving story of Young-seok and Josee (Han Ji-min), who fall in love.
“I saw the original film three or four years ago. I didn’t rewatch it while filming Josee because I wanted to breathe new life into Young-seok's character,” he said. “I worked very hard to portray the complex emotions of the character. I looked for different ways to approach the scenes, for example, like a documentary. I also looked up a diverse list of romance movies in the early-to-mid-2000s.”
Nam shared that his romantic experiences helped shape him as a person. “My perception of love has not changed. I always think that I should give 100 per cent to the person I love,” he said.
“Apart from romantic love, I think family love also has a profound effect on a person. My mother has had a huge influence in my life and encouraged me to have a positive attitude.”
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