Looking for a new Korean drama to watch? If you’re into K-dramas, Kim Hee-seon shouldn’t be a new name to you.
After all, the A-list actress has acted in numerous popular dramas since the ’90s, and even acted with Jackie Chan in 2005’s The Myth.
The 43-year-old now has a new drama, Alice, which is currently streaming on Viu. But don’t brush it off as another rom-com. Alice, which also stars Joo-won, is a sci-fi drama that touches on time travel.
Here’s what to expect from the drama, according to Hee-seon.
Interview: Kim Hee-seon talks about time travel and new K-drama Alice
What attracted you to take up the drama Alice?
Through Alice, I got to play a college student in her 20s and a mother in her 40s. I’ve been in a lot of dramas, but this is the first time I’ve had to express such a wide range of ages, so I did feel the pressure.
But it was charming being able to play two characters, Tae-yi and Sun-young, who look the same but have completely different personalities.
I wanted to take on the challenge as an actor, being able to show the viewers different sides of me through one drama.
This kind of opportunity doesn’t come around often so I did my best and I have no regrets. I hope it’s an opportunity to show the viewers a new side of Kim Hee-seon.
How different was your role on Alice compared to other roles you've played in the past?
It’s the first time I’ve played multiple characters in one drama. Genius physicist Yoon Tae-yi as a college student, as her present self, and Park Sun-young from her 20s to 40s. It was a very diverse role.
Anything you had to do in particular to prepare for the role?
In order to pull off the lines for genius physicist Yoon Tae-yi, I watched movies and read books and watched videos on YouTube about physicists but it wasn’t something I could get used to in just a day or two.
The only thing I could do was keep practising to use that language like I knew it. I practised really hard, enough to say the lines in the middle of my sleep.
Also, I worried a lot that both characters would seem too similar. Both characters have the same face but we really put a lot of work into the details to make them seem different, like the facial expressions, the way they talked, the lines, the tone of voice, and styling.
What are the similarities and differences between you and the characters you played in Alice?
Both were similar to me. I really felt to heart the love she showed for her son. Tae-yi had a strong personality that doesn’t like to owe others and I think that’s similar to me in real life. On the other hand, I’m very friendly and I care, unlike Tae-yi.
Do you personally like the character you played in Alice?
Of course. I chose to be a part of Alice because I liked my character. In particular, I could really relate to Park Sun-young who really had a strong sense of motherly love.
You had to play two characters in this drama, Yoon Tae-yi and Park Sun-young. Was it difficult switching between the two?
It was particularly difficult when shooting the scenes that had both characters. In order to do have both characters in the same shot, I quickly got changed and shot the scene twice.
I didn’t have much time to get out of one character and get into the other, so that was a little difficult. I want to surprise you all with great results even though it was difficult at times.
Yoon Tae-yi is a genius physicist. Did you ever want to be a physicist in real life?
Physics is a whole different world to me. I’m planning to never go near science so that I’m not a burden to the world. (Laughs)
The other character you played, Park Sun-young, also knows the secret to time travel. If you had the opportunity to time travel, would you travel to the past or the future? If possible, which year would you go to? And why?
I don’t want to travel to the past. If I can, I’d like to travel to the far future to a time I won’t be able to experience in my lifetime. The world is changing too fast. Just 50 years into the future will be incredible to experience.
Were there any fun or memorable moments from the shoot?
The action scenes that showcased this bad-ass charm were memorable. It was also interesting to play a genius physicist that was so different from who I really am.
It was a role I thought I would never get to play as an actor, but I got to experience it, and it was fun.
Were they any difficulties working with special effects?
Since it was sci-fi, there were difficulties working with special effects. For example, when shooting a gun, it wasn’t a common gun.
It was a gun from the future, so I had to act with the CGI in mind. I didn’t know how the gun would be shown on screen, so I had to really use my imagination.
How does this science fiction role compare to other genres you've worked on?
Since the theme is time travel, something that’s not possible right now, I had to really rely on my imagination.
So, in order to find the intersection between my imagination and the director’s, I had to heavily rely on my surroundings throughout the shoot. That’s why I’m really looking forward to the final result on screen.
You were partners with Joo-won in the drama. How was it working with him?
Joo-won is really kind-hearted. He was really focused and really meticulous, so I thought to myself that he’s really professional.
I received a lot of positive energy from him throughout the shoot. We worked hard together to produce a good drama.
How was working with Yeon-woo (former member of Momoland that played Kim Hee-seon's sister)?
Yeon-woo and I were sisters in the drama. There were many scenes where we bicker and so we tried to be comfortable in real life.
She was friendly with me first and she spoke without hesitation, which helped us to get closer, faster.
She’s such a kind girl and I’m so thankful for her, I just want to give her a hug every time I see her.
You started acting in 1993 and have played countless roles. Are there roles you'd like to play or genre you'd like to try in the future?
I really enjoyed playing the antagonist. I want to play an antagonist that will thrill me from the moment I start reading the script.
And I attempted action for the first time in this drama. I’ve mostly played roles where I’ve had to be protected but this time, I got to carry a gun and do flashy action scenes.
It was so much fun. If I get the opportunity again, I’d like to try another action genre drama.
What's something that the viewers must keep in mind when watching Alice?
The focus of Alice is time travel. From the 1990s to 2050, there is a huge variation in the time that’s presented in the drama.
You get to see a depiction of the future that only exists in our imaginations right now and you get to see the past as well.
Also, through Tae-yi and Sun-young, you get to see the interesting differences in their styles, mannerisms, personalities that change as you go from their 20s to their 40s.
What can viewers look forward to with Alice?
The mystery surrounding time travel and the scale of production being on the level of a movie are unique factors of this drama.
And though the main topic is time travel, its main theme is humanism. It’s a drama that makes you think about family and loved ones.
What do you hope for the viewers to feel once they watch this drama?
I’d like them to be surprised that the always bright and cheerful Kim Hee-seon can also play moving roles that display motherly love.
They say I’m an actor that’s being rediscovered for 28 years (laughs) and I’d like to be told that I’ve rediscovered myself once more through Alice.
Any words for your Southeast Asian fans?
It was a lot of hard work along with the staff, but we worked hard and had fun for nine months. I hope Alice and I can provide encouragement for you during these hard times.
Please tune in and look forward to it since it’s a type of drama that you’ve probably never seen before. Thank you.
Alice is available on Viu with new episodes every Saturday and Sunday.
This article was published in Her World Online.