Don`t peg him as just another pretty boy.
There is a reason why rising star Pierre Deporte is one of the first non-Korean actors to land a lead in a drama. He is, to put it simply, fearless - an oft-underrated yet crucial personality trait in an aspiring actor, especially in one who majored in law before embarking on a career in acting.
Rather than cower at the prospect of taking on a principal role in a period piece, first-time actor Deporte took a look at the synopsis, jumped on board a plane to Korea and decided to give it a go.
After filming MBC`s "Tamra, the Island," where he starred as a shipwrecked Englishman who falls for a Jeju Island "haenyeo (female diver)," the French model and actor headed down to Jeonju for 25 days to film his first movie, "Alien Band," slated to come out this year.
To sum it all up, in a relatively short amount of time Deporte has achieved what many aspiring actors only dream of accomplishing.
Two months have passed since he wrapped up "Alien Band." Nearly four months have passed since "Tamra, the Island" aired its final episode. Rather than flop down from sheer exhaustion, the 24-year-old seems ready for his next gig.
"I want to be the bad guy," Deporte told The Korea Herald about the next role he wants to play. "I`ve had something with that since I was a kid."
Sporting a shock of near auburn-brown hair, a tongue piercing and another one below his lip, it is not hard to imagine the Belfort native cast as a villain, albeit one with a rebellious punk-rock streak.
The tall and lean French transplant sipped at an Americano before exploring the whys and wherefores of his early attraction to antiheroes.
"You know I`m from the Disney generation basically. So I watched all the Disney. I had all the videos and I had all that stuff. But you know `One Hundred and One Dalmatians`? I love Cruella."
He paused, his grey-tinged baby-blue eyes pensive yet ever-so-slightly mischievous.
"I like a bad guy that you can understand why and actually feel bad. You know what I mean?"
His preference for the relatable rogue might explain why he cites Quentin Tarantino`s "Kill Bill" as one of his favorite movies and "Oldboy" star Choi Min-sik as one of his favorite actors. His attachment to Ann Demeulemeester pieces, plus his piercings, add to his dark edge.
Deporte`s tendency toward laughter and infectious grins, however, supersede his potentially gothic image. There is a certain addictive joie de vivre to him, a quality that bodes well for him.
Even when talking about a particularly grueling moment he experienced while filming "Tamra, the Island," he still managed a laugh and a smile.
"The cave thing was ... it was horrible," he laughs. "And we shot a lot of scenes."
He launched into a full-scale description of the 14 to 15 scenes shot in a cave on Jeju Island.
"There`s no air that goes inside this thing. And you know we put the smoke (in) to make it look better on screen," he cringed. "(It is) so hard to breathe in there and there`s the smoke everywhere so your eyes start burning and to make it pretty you know we`re putting a fireplace (in). We have this fire going."
"Ah that was horrible," he iterated.
The cave, however, seems to be the only truly arduous experience in a vast series of good ones.
"Everyday was so fun," Deporte could not pinpoint a specific high point.
"It was so much fun. I would totally do it again," he said earlier on in the interview. "Yeah, I`m flying tomorrow to Jeju like if we start again tomorrow. There`s no problem, with the same crew, with the same co-actors."
Before he had a chance to contemplate his next career move, however, a movie gig rolled in while he was still working on "Tamra, the Island" and he jumped on board.
"It`s called `Alien Band,`" he said. "It`s about a rock band in college. A few foreigner students, they make a club. It`s like a music movie. The music`s really good."
"What I loved about my character is that he does not speak anything else than Korean," said Deporte of his role as a French-born, naturalized Korean citizen who was raised by his grandmother in Korea and who plays the guitar.
Deporte expressed his take on "Alien Band."
"This is real life in Korea," he said. "When I read some lines, it`s really stuff I say."
Not surprising since his character parallels his own life on many levels. At the age of five, his father married a Korean woman, marking the moment when Deporte first started to learn about the language and culture of his new mother`s country.
"She taught me Korean," he spoke of his mother with a dedicated affection.
"Mom loves Korea and I think she translated that to me."
Deporte lived in Korea for seven years, from the impressionable age of 12 to his last year as a bona fide teenager. When he attended regular school for three months in Changwon - he was primarily schooled at international schools in Busan and Daejeon - he called his grandmother and asked her to give him a Korean name.
She christened him Hwaong Chan-bin.
"I took Hwaong for, like that`s my mother`s family name and Chan is `dollim` for the guys in my family. So there`s Chan-woo, Chan-young and I`m Chan, and `bin` is, that`s where she checked up for the meaning of the Chinese characters."
A dollim is a syllable of a Korean given name that is shared by all members of the same generation of a family.
Throughout the interview, Deporte slips into fluent Korean and reveals that he subsists off of rice and instant "doenjang (fermented soybean paste)" stew and "mulmandu (steamed dumplings)" at home. He even took his rice cooker with him to university in France.
"To me this is my home," he expressed his affinity for Korea. "This is where I feel the most comfortable."
"I know everything about this country."
By Jean Oh