Revenge, romance fuel ‘The Bodyguard’-channeling ‘Red Swan’

Revenge and romance fuel ‘The Bodyguard’-channeling ‘Red Swan’

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:20 AM July 10, 2024

Cast of “Red Swan” (from left): Seo Yi-sook, Rain aka Jung Ji-hoon, Kim Ha-neul, Ki Eun-sae and Jung Gyu-woon —PHOTOS COURTESY OF DISNEY+

Cast of “Red Swan” (from left): Seo Yi-sook, Rain aka Jung Ji-hoon, Kim Ha-neul, Ki Eun-sae and Jung Gyu-woon —PHOTOS COURTESY OF DISNEY+

The Philippine setting in the opening episode of “Red Swan” doesn’t just bring its gripping narrative progression closer to home, it also ends up utilizing the formula that made the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston romantic thriller “The Bodyguard” a blockbuster hit in 1992.

In the 10-episode revenge drama, which began streaming with a two-part rollout on Disney+ last Wednesday and will drop two new episodes every week, the story follows the events that lead to a budding romance.


It’s this surprising turn of events that transpires after former golfing wunderkind-turned-billionaire’s wife Oh Wan-soo (Kim Ha-neul) is rescued by former cop Seo Do-yoon (Rain aka Jung Ji-hoon) during an assassination attempt by terrorists. Do-yoon whisks Wan-soo off to a secluded hideaway in the suburbs before dropping her off to safety in the South Korean embassy in Manila.


But there’s good reason behind Do-yoon’s gung ho attitude. He’s raring to solve the violent death of his bosom buddy. Thereafter, he manages to get himself hired as Wan-soo’s bodyguard and sees the vulnerable woman behind her hardened exterior. But the situation takes an unexpected turn when the unlikely pair starts to acknowledge the sparks that fly every time they’re together.

READ: Jun Ji-hyun, Kang Dong-won to join forces in new K-drama ‘Tempest’

During the press con that took place in rainy Seoul last week, Ha-neul (“Blind,” “18 Again”) admitted that part of what attracted her to “Red Swan’s” story is the romance that blossoms between Do-yoon and Wan-soo.

“I loved the film ‘The Bodyguard’ when I saw it back in the day because I grew up in that day and age,” Ha-neul shared. “So it was a pleasant surprise to see this concept being brought to life again. I also think that every single episode here is fascinating as it embodies different themes from one episode to the next.

“In this series, I play a goodwill ambassador and head of our foundation. So I monitored a lot of what goodwill ambassadors do in public—they’re very confident, very graceful. I tried to learn from their gestures, how they stand before an audience and read into their mindset. It was also important how I looked, so I focused on how to dress up for every occasion.

Tricky part

“But the most tricky part for me was … how to look convincing as a golf champion! I did play a bit of golf in the past, but I had to learn to look like I was the best golfer in the world, right? And no matter how hard I practiced my pose and posture, I couldn’t quite pull it off 100 percent (laughs). But at least director Park did his best to capture her essence beautifully on camera.”


Rain, the singer-actor who has carved out a niche for himself in the K-drama series “Full House,” in Park Chan-wook’s Berlin fest-winning rom-com “I’m a Cyborg , But That’s OK,” and the Hollywood actioners “Speed Racer” and “Ninja Assassin,” said that he’s always wanted to work with Ha-neul, director Park Hong-kyun (“Warm and Cozy”), and veteran actress Seo Yi-sook (“The World of the Married,” “Start-Up”).

In the episodes’ Dorina Pineda and Lavinia Arguelles-channeling confrontation scenes between Ha-neul and Seo Yi-sook (Wan-soo’s abusive and perpetually high-strung mother-in-law), the latter embraces every chance she’s given to chew up the scenery, although Ha-neul quickly demonstrates she’s no damsel in distress either.

“I’ve always dreamed of acting alongside Ha-neul,” Rain admitted. “Ha-neul, Yi-sook, Jung Gyu-woon (who plays Wan-soo’s cheating husband, Kim Yong-guk) and Ki Eun-sae (as Jang Tae-ra) were cast before me. When the script came along, I thought that nothing much was required of me because I didn’t have many lines as Ha-neul’s bodyguard.

“Still, my character Do-yoon is supposed to exude strong presence, so it did require some effort to build that up and capture his vibe. I had an instructor helping me execute that. But I did put in a lot of thought into how to exactly put this character together. I tried really hard to control my tone of voice and add other helpful details [to create a full character].”

“In the case of the action-packed stunts here, I felt like I really had to own up to everything I did. I always feel better and more comfortable pulling off the action sequences myself and just fill in the void in between my improvisations. Of course, if the scenes are very dangerous, I have to step out and let the professionals do it themselves.

“Unlike anything you’ve seen before, I wanted to do something that looked really impactful, so I had a lot of conversations with the director. And rather than doing a lot of cuts, we wanted to do longer takes this time so we could show every action scene in its full glory.

Eyeball acting

“I didn’t have many lines, so it was more difficult for me because I had to express emotions without saying them out loud. It had to be done with my eyes. In fact, in the script, it would say, ‘Do-yoon looks at Wan-soo as if he understands everything …’

“It’s a lot of eyeball acting, but my eyes aren’t really the largest pair of eyes there is. So I needed to be as expressive as possible. As preparation, I would also do morning runs before going to the set. That’s how passionate I was with this character.”

As for Ha-neul, Rain thought his 46-year-old costar was oozing with charisma even when she claimed to have struggled with Wan-soo’s physicality as a golfer.

He explained, “I thought she was truly a professional because the amount of lines she had to deliver required almost robotic skill. Also, the way Yi-sook and Ha-neul acted against each other onscreen was truly gripping! Their verbal tussle and banter … were really amazing to see—to the point where I had to stop watching at some point. I told the director I needed to leave.”

On the other hand, Yi-sook was just as thrilled to go mano a mano with Ha-neul and Rain in front of the camera.

The 57-year-old veteran quipped, “They’re such great actors! They really lived up to their reputation. As an actor, you automatically feel reassured when there’s good chemistry among members of the cast.”


For his part, when director Park was asked what the story was about, he said, “It’s about Oh Wan-soo, a former golfer who’s a nationally loved hero. She becomes the daughter-in-law of the matriarch of the chaebol family behind the Hwain group. “Wan-soo becomes the director of their foundation, doing good deeds around the world. But following a terrorist attack that threatens her life, she meets her bodyguard Do-yoon, who comes into the family with a personal agenda—he wants to avenge the death of a friend he owes his life to.”

Even Gyu-woon manages to hold his own as Ha-neul’s good-looking but faithless “lesser-half,” Yong-guk.

At the press con, the 42-year-old award-winning actor (“Sign,” “Dr. Champ”) admitted that he was nervous coming into the set, especially because the last time he was seen in a TV series was via 2017’s “You Are Too Much.”

“I’m blown away to have been cast in this show because, as you know, I took some time off from acting,” Gyu-woon disclosed. “So I really went after this enticing role. I convinced director Park that I could really match his expectations and set this character apart from the ones that I played in the past.

Scene from “Red Swan”

Scene from “Red Swan”

“To be honest, my character really loves his wife, but she’s always pushing me away. And from that perspective, it’s a very lonely life, especially since the mother I’m always fighting with is someone who rabidly dislikes my wife. He’s always at a loss for what to do with his situation.”

As for Eun-sae, the lovely young actress stated, “Well, I didn’t choose the project—the project, and our director specifically, chose me (laughs). So when this series came along, I didn’t hesitate and just jumped right in! It was an honor and a blessing to work with this amazing cast.

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“The trailer only focuses on my character, Tae-ra, being a very provocative woman. But while she is villainous, I focused on not wanting to appear only as a villain so that she wouldn’t be perceived as someone predictable.” INQ

TAGS: Jung Ji-Hoon, The Bodyguard

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