In 2012, Kim Junsu’s new musical is “Elisabeth” that is loved the most in Austria for 20 years. In this musical that tells the life story of Empress Elisabeth who, just like Mozart, always dreamt of freedom; he will play the fantasy character ‘Death’ (hereafter Tod) along with Ryu Junghan and Song Changui. Compared to a genius composer and a pure young man (‘Tears of Heaven’), a character of ‘non-existent being’ will require more imagination. As a musical actor, from now on, he has a lot of technical homework to solve. However, Kim Junsu said, “No matter what musical it is, I want the audience know that I do it because I love musical.”
10. Even the best skills can’t catch up with the sincerity. In the future, you might be compared to when you did ‘Mozart!’ whenever you do musical. Don’t you feel pressure?
Kim Junsu: I indeed like that. Because I did ‘Mozart!’, I’m able to do ‘Elisabeth’. I finally did it even in difficult situation and I didn’t give up on musical despite other activities. Therefore, I’m worried about whether I can successfully play this role but I don’t feel pressure about being compared.
“Compared to Ryu Junghan and Song Changui, I’ll become a dynamic Tod”
10. I heard that Tod’s appearance would be very flashy.
Kim Junsu: I’ll appear when six actors who plays the characters called ‘angels of death’ create an aura of death. Since it’s a transcendental character, there will be a lot of lights, wires and bridges involved. I almost won’t ever step on the 1st floor of the stage.
10. Since you have often held large-scale concerts, you must be more familiar to hanging on wires than other actors.
Kim Junsu: Some days ago, I tried hanging on wires but it was very high. (Silence for 3 seconds) I’ll just have to be confident. (Everyone burst out laughing) Luckily, I don’t have acrophobia and I got used to it because I have frequently been on it. However, it’s still scary. I think it’s the same with (Park) Euntae-hyung. (Laugh)
10. Even though it’s just a short appearance, you will play a character that has many implications. In term of experience and acting, there is a big difference between you and Ryu Junghan and Song Changui. How did you create ‘XiahTod’?
Kim Junsu: If I have to explain (how I created ‘XiahTod’), it was like adding a little bit of sweetness to the image of Hyde (of Jekyll and Hyde)? I haven’t play that kind of role before so it’s hard for people to get the feel what I’ll be like. And because there isn’t an exact answer for what a transcendental character will be like, I think I can play the character more freely. Perhaps, my Tod will have more dance moves than other actors. We are Death, three of us will all show different feelings. Therefore, they said that we wouldn’t need to have the same hairstyle or wear the same costumes.
10. Basically, Tod always fascinates Sissi so that character needs to have a ‘homme fatale’ feeling. (Laugh)
Kim Junsu: I’m studying him in my own way. I also lost a lot of weights. (Laugh) My manager jumped up and down, worrying that I might get hurt but I play soccer often. It has helped me to lose weight, made my skin healthier and increased my physical strength. I also think somehow the choreography will a strong point of my character.
10. Since the public acknowledges you as a good singer, it’s quite not easy to me to understand why you said that choreography would be your strong point.
Kim Junsu: Since I was young, I have liked both singing and dance. Even when I was trainee, some friends who were better than me at singing but I think I was the best at dancing. (Laugh) When I was in SM, every time some visitors came from Japan, they made some of the trainees good at singing and dancing perform for them and I did both. I could imitate the dancing after 2 or 3 times watching it on television. I still like to dance. I also miss the stage where I can dance.
10. Then how did you start singing?
Kim Junsu: My mother was very good at singing. I was much influenced from her. At the beginning, instead of thinking that I was good at singing, I wondered why other kids couldn’t sing. (Laugh) Since elementary school, when we sang national anthem, while other friends sang like singing a children’s song, I even sang it with a lot of vibrations. So many of them asked why I sang like an old man. (Laugh) I felt that it was very cool but I don’t know since when I used vibration.
“To diversify the roles, I thought about taking musical lessons”
10. But in musicals, there are a lot of cases where that vibration becomes harmful. It’s not easy to set a balance between pop music and musical.
Kim Junsu: In musicals, because the lyrics are also the lines, the diction is extremely important. But in pop music, if you sing precisely the lyrics, it indeed makes the song unfashionable. So enhancing your pronunciation becomes important. Therefore, I think these two genres are different from the start. In addition, in pop music, you use a lot of bending, pushing up the notes but it’s not the case in musical. The singing methods are also different.
10. Starting musical career, have you ever received separate vocal lessons?
Kim Junsu: I have practiced with the musical director but have never received separate vocal lessons. But somehow, I still can’t get aside the distinct way a singer sings and it caused a limitation in the roles I can play. Nowadays, I have been thinking of taking musical lessons. Not doing something and not being able to do something are two different things.
10. I asked you about vocal lessons because your low notes that I felt to be your weak point in ‘Mozart!’ and ‘Tears of heaven’ have improved a lot.
Kim Junsu: Actually, the low notes in “Elisabeth” are lower than the ones in my previous musicals. In term of voice range, it’s evidently hard because I had always been strong with the high notes. However, I have been thinking of many things these days. There is surely different point between the feelings as a singer and the feelings as a musical actor. And I’m in the process of getting to know about those.
10. I think that musical has become something that you don’t want let go of. Your strong point is that you express your emotions through songs. Will you continue to go forward with this strong point or take a new challenge?
Kim Junsu: Because each musical is attractive in its own way, I want to try feeling all of them. (Laugh) I still prefer the sad endings that leave lingering emotion in audience. All the musicals I have done till now were also a bit like that. What I really have confidence in is something funny like ‘Guys and Dolls’. (Laugh) I think that’s why I want to challenge myself with sad endings. However, there are things that you want to do but aren’t suited for. There are also things that you can do but don’t want to. For now, rather than wondering whether I should bring out my strong point or take a new challenge, I want to act in the way that the audience will knows that I’m doing musicals because I really love it.
10. It seems that in difficult situation, JYJ’s members have found the best ways for you.
Kim Junsu: It’s very tough. While other people have 10 weapons, we’re in the situation that we can only chose from 2 or 3. Maybe that’s why we try more desperately whenever we get one. That’s also what gives me more strength.