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Jinyoung takes on the role of both boy and man: ‘Inside Me’ has a highly familiar premise, but it still manages to earn laughs

Jan 05,2019
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Singer-turned-actor Jinyoung from boy band B1A4 returns to the silver screen in his first major role in the comedy “Inside Me,” in which he co-stars with Park Sung-woong and Ra Mi-ran.[TCO THE CONTENTS ON]
The upcoming “Inside Me” is a goofy movie with a familiar premise. The soul of a timid high school boy is swapped with that of a middle-aged gangster. Hilarity ensues. Despite the story’s high level of predictability, the movie manages to get a succession of laughs and pulls off its modest ambitions by the end.

It doesn’t hurt that singer-turned-actor Jinyoung from boy band B1A4 is the star. He plays a bullied high school boy named Dong-hyeon, who falls off the top of his school building and lands on middle-aged gangster Pan-su (Park Sung-woong). Both survive - but with their souls swapped.

Following the swap, Dong-hyeon is no longer the target of bullying at school. He is confident, charismatic, thinner - Jinyoung had to go through four hours of special effects makeup prior to the shooting of the early scenes to make him look heavier - and not kind with the kids who bullied him earlier. He becomes a popular student.

The tale becomes more tangled when the gangster within Dong-hyeon’s body realizes that the mother of Dong-hyeon’s close female friend Hyeon-jeong is his first love. (The mother is played by the fabulous Ra Mi-ran.) A second realization comes soon after: Hyeon-jeong is his own daughter.

“I am aware that this movie is childish and the body-swap story is guaranteed to be predictable,” said Jinyoung during an interview in central Seoul on Thursday. “But the movie has its own strengths as a comedy, and therefore, I believe ‘Inside Me’ is a fine film that is able to pull off laughs from audience members.”

Supporting players play a big role in creating a sweet and funny mood. Lee Jun-hyeok, who played minor roles in movies like “Alice in Earnestland” (2015), shines as a gangster down the pecking order from Pan-su. Several of the funnier scenes in the film were ad-libbed, according to Jinyoung.

The preview received positive reviews. Though many agreed on the story’s inherent childishness, they did not deny the steady laughs it provoked.

“Instead of attempting to force laughs out of audiences with trying-to-be-funny lines, the movie manages to naturally make people burst into laughter by creating humorous situations.”

Jinyoung, who previously appeared in KBS2’s historical series “Love in the Moonlight” (2016), originally did not have a strong taste for comedy flicks. He started thinking differently following the brief appearance he made in the comedy “Miss Granny” (2014).

“I used to prefer watching blockbusters over comedies when going to the movies,” the 29-year-old said. “But after seeing so many people laughing together at a theater during the screening of ‘Miss Granny,’ my interest towards comedy started to grow. I think the genre is attractive in that it is able to make people laugh out loud in a theater - much louder than they would have laughed had they seen the same scene alone at home.”

After his minor role in “Miss Granny,” “Inside Me” is his return to the silver screen after five years. That was accompanied by a lot of pressure.

“Choosing to accept the role brought on pressure. It is a soul-swap tale, and I was told by the film’s director [Kang Hyo-jin] that even veteran actors avoid such roles [due to the difficulties].” Jinyoung added. “But I was able to accept the role because I wasn’t aware of how difficult such a role would be. Plus, I wanted to challenge myself so that I could act in a wider range of roles in the future. I wanted to see myself overcoming the challenges.”

It was not an easy role to pull off.

“Acting always felt difficult for the movie because I had to play two different characters, and the situations encountered by each character varied drastically,” he said. Having to play a middle-aged man added more complexity.

“Even after shooting completed, I was not sure whether I had done well [playing Pan-su in Dong-hyeon’s body]. If I had played the role of someone my own age, I would have immediately known whether my acting was satisfying or not. So to confirm whether I had done well, I had to wait until the preview. Only after audience members gave positive reviews did I feel assured.”

Jinyoung now feels like he is capable of taking on more challenging roles.

“I want to star in a war movie that demands a lot of physical effort,” he said. “I really like action titles, and war movies is a genre I definitely hope to try before I get older.”

Jinyoung is hoping to push his limits further by continuing his career as both a musician and an actor.

“I love music just as much as I love acting,” he said. “Though it may sound a bit greedy, I hope to continue working as both a musician and an actor. My dream was to write a song for the soundtrack of a drama or movie I starred in. That happened in ‘Love in the Moonlight,’ and I hope to feel that satisfaction again.”

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]