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Entertainment

Ji Chang Wook shows he’s a ‘triple threat’ and more

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Ji Chang Wook shows heâs a âtriple threatâ and more
The South Korean star plays an intriguing magician who wants to forever stay a child in The Sound of Magic.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

MANILA, Philippines — Ji Chang Wook is a triple threat and more in the new South Korean drama The Sound of Magic now streaming on Netflix. He acts, sings, dances and does magic in the six-episode series, where he plays an eccentric magician with a Peter Pan-like complex and who lives in an abandoned amusement park.

Chang Wook stars alongside Choi Sung Eun and Hwang In Youp who are cast as the high schoolers Yoon Ah Yi and Il Deung, respectively, whose lives get intertwined with that of his character Ri Eul.

“This is a fantasy-music drama that starts when a mysterious magician, who wants to remain as a kid forever, appears in front of a child who’s forced to grow up too fast and the other child whose dreams are imposed upon him by his parents,” the 34-year-old actor explained through an interpreter in a recent press junket.

Filming the K-drama adapted from a webtoon and helmed by Itaewon Class and Love in the Moonlight, director Kim Sung Youn was a “truly a new experience” for Chang Wook.

“Of course, there were very challenging parts, but I also would think to myself, this is the chance of a lifetime. When would I have this kind of opportunity where I have to act, sing, dance and on top of that, do magic?” he said.

“There was a lot of preparation involved, but I felt like it was such a rewarding experience and because it was so challenging and difficult, there was so much time spent together as a team, with everyone’s heads put together to create something. And now that it’s actually going to be out there, showcased to the world, I feel very strange.”

One could say that Chang Wook has treaded familiar territory. After all, the actor best-known for such dramas as K2, Healer and Empress Ki started acting via musical theater before venturing into on-screen projects.

Nevertheless, when asked about the show’s differences from his stage experiences, he said he wouldn’t consider The Sound of Magic as a musical, genre-wise. “I didn’t make that connection at all because the tone and manner (were) a lot lighter, and in terms of the mechanism, it’s completely different from being on stage. So during the filming, lighting and working with the different teams — it’s a completely different process. There’s after-recording and just different elements and processes that come into play. It’s very different from putting up a musical.”

Chang Wook acts, sings, dances and does magic in the six-episode series.

But all the singing he had to do in The Sound of Magic was still as demanding. “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t burdensome to some extent, but I had such wonderful help from the music team. And when I was on set, I felt like the pressure was a little lighter.”

If fans regarded it as a “gift” to hear Chang Wook sing in a series, he said that “it was a gift for myself, too. It was a new challenge and it was a very joyful experience.”

Chang Wook signed up for this project two years ago because he found the stories of the main characters very relatable despite the fantastical aspects.

“First of all, with the two characters Ah Yi and Il Deung, I felt like their stories were my stories. I also felt that this is a story for all of us. I thought it was very relatable, and I wanted to really root for Ah Yi and Il Deung. I think I was drawn to that the most. And the character Ri Eul was intriguing. I thought it was a challenge I would like to take on.”

In a separate roundtable chat, The STAR learned that he was also hands-on in shaping his character, from the makeup to the wardrobe, and the whole process proved one of the fun parts of shooting The Sound of Magic.

“I just want to say that I had a lot of fun shooting. (From) when I was putting on my makeup, I would be smiling. I would be cracking up every time on the set. It was a very fun experience for me overall,” he said.

What he focused on wasn’t the magic tricks but the way his character performed magic and how he felt about doing it. “I think magic is a medium to portray who Ri Eul really is. So to that end, I had a lot of talks with director Kim about what kind of wardrobe I should wear, what kind of hairstyle I should have, or what tone and manner I should use to say my lines.”

He also learned how to be a magician from a master himself. “It was really, really difficult… You know, there’s no shortcut to doing magic. So, I saw a lot of the videos by illusionist Lee Eung Yeol but I had to be much more expressive when doing magic. He’s like an artist. He’s not just a magician, he is an illusionist and an artist. So, I felt a lot of pressure. But the good news was that there was a great design and he came up with the design, so I could rely on the design when doing magic. But still, it was very, very challenging,” he shared.

As for essaying a character who is a grown-up but wants to forever stay a child, Chang Wook had to reawaken his dormant childlike wonder. “I’m a grown-up myself, and I lost my childhood wonders. I had these dreams as a child, but I think I’ve lost them. And I wanted that process of re-finding those dreams and re-finding my childhood wonders.”

For Chang Wook, this is one of the key takeaways from the show — rediscovering childhood dreams and passions. “Sometimes, we lose track of our childhood innocence, our childhood wonders. And there are dreams that we had as a child. I think the show will let you think about those past dreams, and the wonders you had as a child. It’s like a fairytale for people, it’s a heartwarming story, so I hope everyone can really enjoy The Sound of Magic.”

JI CHANG WOOK

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