30-DAY ASIAN DRAMA CHALLENGE DAY 2 – Actor(s) that proved you wrong in their acting abilities
Lee Jong Hyun as Collin for A Gentleman’s Dignity
I have known Lee Jong Hyun since their band, CN Blue, made their official debut in 2010. I have always known him as the shy, ex-leader, with the mad guitar skills and a self-confessed manga reader and drama fan. But as an actor? Nah. He was quite the timid one, even in interviews and variety shows that I was never really expecting him to debut as an actor. In fact, by 2012, two years from their debut, he was the only one left in their group to have never starred in any drama. So I was really surprised when he was cast as Collin in Jang Dong Gun’s much-anticipated comeback drama, A Gentleman’s Dignity, to play (double surprise!) no less than Jang Dong Gun’s son.
I didn’t catch the drama while it was airing but I have heard good feedback of Jong Hyun’s acting skills in it. But with my prejudice in K-pop idols crossing over to K-dramaland as actors (Kim Hyun Joong of Boys Over Flowers, Jung Yong Hwa in You’re Beautiful, to name a few), I was not really expecting much from Jong Hyun. I love CN Blue as musicians but I’m known to be not blinded by biases when it comes to acting skills. So when I finally got the chance to watch the drama some two year later, I was able to enjoy Jong Hyun’s debut on the small screen without the hype and without any expectation.
And boy, I was pleasantly surprised. For a newbie, he was able to hold his own considering he was acting with veteran and more seasoned actors and actresses. And to act along side Jang Dong Gun must really be a pressure in itself but uri Jong Hyun handled it well. He was not amazingly great or awesome, but he was able to own the role and acted as natural as possible without appearing like the newbie that he was. His Collin was believable and even relatable as a son looking and yearning for his biological dad. Not to mention the fact that physical appearances-wise, he could really passed as JDG’s son for real.
If I had not known him to be a newbie, I wouldn’t have noticed that it’s his first drama role. And as a viewer, I think that’s what matters most for an actor — to not see the actor acting out the character but to see the character as himself, believing them to be one and the same.