South Korean actor Joo Sang Wook is not just serious about his job, but he is also serious about his characters being serious about their jobs.
On the acclaimed TV series Ten, he relishes playing a brooding cop for one major reason: The character actually does his job. That is a far cry from many of his previous screen personae, who are so often distracted by romance, says the 35-year-old actor in an e-mail interview with Life!.
"I've played a lot of characters in middle management positions who are more interested in love affairs than actual work. But in the series Ten, my character Yeo Ji Hoon is really focused on chasing criminals. I like that Yeo Ji Hoon focuses only on his work."
Some of the actor's previous roles include a film producer on romance drama hit The Thorn Birds (2011) and a mayoral candidate in romantic comedy series The Accidental Couple (2009).
Ten, which airs on Kix (StarHub TV Channel 518, SingTel mio TV Channel 309), is a gritty crime drama about a special criminal investigation unit named Ten that handles the most violent criminal cases in the country. The series is now into its second season.
The character of Yeo Ji Hoon is a tough detective who has a knack for intuitively reading other people's motivation and behaviour.
For a serious crime drama like this, Joo had to do adequate preparation and he admits that it was "difficult to understand" the role at first, given how little he knew about the nature of criminal investigations.
"For the role, I watched many movies and TV series to prepare myself, and also talked to the producer to find out more about Yeo Ji Hoon's image and personality.
"There is an old Japanese TV series called One Million Stars Falling From The Sky (2002), which aired about 10 years ago. I thought that one of the actors, Takuya Kimura, looked a bit like what Yeo Ji Hoon should look like. I don't know if I performed well in the end, but I think I put in good effort," adds the actor who is single.
Though his character is a cop, the actor does not have to do too many physical stunts.
"Initially, I expected fighting scenes in this series. But (co-star) Kim Sang Ho does all the fighting scenes. My character is the brains of the show. He uses his brain to solve cases and doesn't need to fight to solve a problem and uses his powers of deduction to solve all these near-perfect crimes."
The 43-year-old Kim, who plays another detective on the same Ten team as Yeo, is an acclaimed veteran actor best known for his roles in TV series My Husband Got A Family (2012) and in the film The Happy Life (2007), which earned him a Best Supporting Actor award at South Korea's Blue Dragon Film Awards.
He was a mentor of sorts to Joo, who says: "Kim Sang Ho has a lot of experience, and my own performance improved because I was working with such a good actor. Good actors like him teach me and make up for my weaknesses."
Self-deprecation aside, Joo, who made his acting debut in 1998, has won a New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards in 2010 and a Best Supporting Actor award at the 2011 Korea Drama Festival Awards.
"Being an actor requires patience, and the more you endure, the better an actor you will become. Over the years, I realised that I really enjoy this line of work. To me, acting is one of my favourite hobbies."
Ten Season 2 airs on Kix (StarHub TV Channel 518, SingTel mio TV Channel 309) on Thursdays at 10pm.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.