Just a few minutes later the shoot is over. He bows to the photographer and eases himself into his seat.
Two years have passed since Kim Kang-woo garnered critical acclaim as an engine driver in "The Railroad (Gyeongiseon)" (2007) and as Seong-chan in the box office hit "Le Grand Chef" (2007). To date he has played a detective in the thriller "Rainbow Eyes (Gamyeon)" (2007) and a pro swimmer-turned-drug trafficker in "Marine Boy" (2009). His latest projects include "The Slingshot," which began airing on KBS 2 this Monday, and the film "As We Love" (working title), set for release later this year.
"When selecting roles, the first thing I look for is a character or style of acting that does not overlap with roles and projects that I have done before," he said.
Despite his pretty-boy face, the 30-year-old actor has avoided being typecast as a run-of-the-mill Romeo. And it takes a certain degree of fearlessness and grit to constantly angle for new territory. Though he says, "If I did not take up acting, I would have ended up being an incredibly boring and conservative 30-something-year-old guy." Kim`s determination and dedication makes him anything but staid.
Prior to claiming the best actor award at the 25th Torino Film Festival for his role in "The Railroad," Kim trekked out to theaters to promote the low-budget film on his own, sitting in the front row, cap crushed down low on his head, before springing up unannounced to greet his audiences.
"I just went, like a guerilla press screening," he said.
"I was curious as to whether or not audiences understood what the director and I had envisioned; the character that I played. So I deliberately went to theaters on my own, greeted audiences and conversed with a small group of theatergoers."
For his role as a culinary genius in "Le Grand Chef," Kim learned how to slice and dice, observe master chefs and spend quality time with his co-star, the cow.
"I had no idea that cows were such shy creatures," he said. "The cow would not even look at the food I tried to give it. It only ate what its owner fed it and would not look at me. So, everyday, for about 10 days, I brushed it, took it for walks, fed it, caught flies and continually made eye contact. It was like working with a very sensitive actress."
Kim talks in a low and quiet voice: slow and steady. His sharp features - the pointed chin, pursed lips, thick eyebrows - accentuated by the gravity with which he talks about his career. Every now and then he breaks into a laugh or a light chuckle, but on the whole he remains relatively serious, especially when it comes to his latest role.
"The character himself is a villain but he is incredibly charming."
"The Slingshot" is a series that focuses on the struggles of a wronged hero - played by Hallyu star Park Yong-ha. Kim plays the hero`s nemesis, Chae Do-woo, the power-hungry son of the head of a large corporation who will stop at nothing to win and does so with a quiet menace.
"It is much more difficult because there is almost no movement. I have to express myself with my eyes, the angle of my face or the way that I speak. Because he is a character that reveals his emotions on a minute scale," he sucks in his breath. "It is somewhat challenging, but, also fun."
When asked about "The Slingshot" scriptwriter Song Ji-na, the mastermind behind the hit series "Hourglass" (1997), Kim answered: "Looking at this script, I think I can see why she is a good scriptwriter. The characters are very three-dimensional."
"Lines and situations that I could not have foreseen are scripted. I am very happy with that," he added.
Even though Kim has a movie, a compilation of five shorts titled "As We Love" (working title), slated to hit screens in the near future and is currently working on "The Slingshot" he hopes to star in yet another flick before the year is out.
"Though nothing has been decided yet, I would like to do a movie that would go out in theaters this winter."
Given his penchant for versatile characters, it will be interesting to see what role Kim reels in next. In the meantime, you can check out his dark side on Monday and Tuesday nights.
By Jean Oh