SINGAPORE - Signing on to film period zombie movie Rampant was a no-brainer for lead actors Hyun Bin and Jang Dong-gun as it finally gave the pair of real-life best friends the chance to work together.
At a press conference to promote the film in Singapore on Tuesday (Oct 30) afternoon, Jang, 46, says in Korean via a translator: "One of the main reasons why I took on this movie was because I would get to act with Hyun Bin. When you're acting with someone who knows you so well, the chemistry is naturally there, and you also feel more at ease.
"There is a high level of trust on the set because we're so familiar with each other."
Hyun, 36, adds: "When the offer to do this movie came, I was so excited because I would finally be able to see a different side to my good friend - to see how he is as an actor. It was an amazing opportunity. He is such a fantastic actor, so there were many learning opportunities for me on set from watching him act."
Never mind that the two had to play rivals in the movie - Hyun is a prince in the film, while Jang plays an ambitious war minister who schemes to take advantage of a growing zombie problem in the kingdom to overthrow the royal family.
Jang says with a grin: "I often had to look at him with hatred in my eyes, but the experience was very enjoyable nonetheless."
They were in town to promote their new film, which marries the genres of zombie horror with Korean period drama. Singapore is the only stop outside of South Korea where they are promoting the movie.
Hyun was last in Singapore in 2013 when he held a fan meet event, while Jang was here more than 13 years ago to promote Chinese epic fantasy film The Promise.
Jang says: "On my last trip here to promote my movie, the movie was made by a foreign production company. I'm very honoured to be back in Singapore to promote a Korean production this time around."
Looking at the two actors at the press conference, it was evident that they felt very relaxed next to each other. They would often look at each other and chuckle, as if they shared many inside jokes.
The two superstars, who have been friends for more than a decade, are also teammates on a Korean celebrity baseball team known as the Playboys.
As advantageous as it was to have two best friends working alongside each other, the director of the movie, Kim Sung-hoon, who was also at the press conference, pointed out that the film was still a challenging one to make.
"Filming the mass zombie scenes were tough, because of the sheer number of actors involved as well as some time constraints. It meant that the actors, including the leads, had to do a lot of action stunts on their own instead of using stunt doubles. There were safety concerns," he says.
The biggest challenge of all, however, had nothing to do with safety.
"Both Hyun Bin and Jang Dong-gun are so outrageously handsome that even if they were required to look dirty for certain scenes, they still looked so good," says Kim.
Rampant opens in cinemas on Nov 1.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.